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Pretending to be Clever - How I Do It

Updated on November 17, 2010

I have always wanted to be clever, but have never wanted it enough to try to overcome my inherent laziness. I have always looked at intelligent people, scientists particularly, authors and playwrights, surgeons and airline pilots, and I have been jealous. I have always wished that I had been born with more brains, and a greater capacity for memorising facts. I cannot tell you how I envy someone with a photographic memory.

I also cannot tell you why big-brainedness seems so important to me. Intelligence has always just appealed to me as something to collect and desire more of. But I think our level of intelligence is probably a fairly constant thing. We can try brain training and mental exercises, but on the whole we'll always be just as clever as we are now - I don't think anyone can make themselves clever if they're not already. We can only add to the list of things we know. Feel free to disagree with me.

For this reason I know that I will never be as intelligent as I want to be. I have always fancied being a genius, but I do now realise it to be a truth that genius is something one is born with.

With this in mind, I realised the other day that I have probably always tried to put across an image of myself as a highly intelligent person. I doubt that anyone has ever really fallen for it, and quite rightly. Everyone is undoubtedly more intelligent than me, because they can see through my daft attempts to impress and appear to be of superior intelligence.

Some of the things I do to pretend to be clever:

  • mention that I went to a grammar school (whilst neglecting to mention that I did not get very good grades)
  • mention that I have a degree (whilst neglecting to mention that it was a poor classification of degree that I achieved, and in a relatively easy subject at that!)
  • telling people that I am a writer (whilst neglecting to mention that I have had nothing published, and have not even finished so much as a piece of flash fiction)
  • remembering how to construct a sentence. This is no great achievement since I have spoken this same language for almost thirty three years - anyone can be good at something if they've practised it for three decades. I have also practised procrastination for the same length of time, and I am ten times better at that than I am at constructing a sentence
  • using big words. I do this as often as possible, but I often get the word in the wrong context or use it completely inappropriately. Using big words when they're not really necessary is just showing off. And highly intelligent people, I find, use them sparingly. Small words will do just as nicely oftentimes.
  • raising one eyebrow and looking down my nose at people. This is something I am extremely ashamed of. I often don't realise that I am doing it, and I try to guard against it, but am still unsuccessful at times. It's a stupid thing to do, and proves that I am too judgemental. I have been wrong to do this many, many times. I have judged a person to be stupid, only to be proved wrong, and to discover that that person is much more intelligent than me. Thankfully, for me, I always keep my thoughts to myself, so no-one ever knows that I think they're stupid. My mother tells me that I have always looked down at people. If you have noticed me doing this to you, then please accept my apologies - it could be that I'm thinking of something else, and not even listening to you.
  • writing in public. I often do this, partly for the look of it, knowing full well that I write much more productively at home where I can concentrate properly. (I partly write outside the confines of my house because the lure of pastries and nice coffee are too powerful to resist.)

There are more points to this list, but I cannot bring them to mind, because I am not clever enough.
Being not quite as clever as I would like to be is something that I am coming to terms with. I am realising that it is not something that I can do anything about. And what is the point of unimaginable intelligence anyway, if one does nothing with it.
To conclude, I think that we should not take ourselves too seriously, and we should just try to make the most of the tools that we have. Intelligence is relative anyway, and is measured by more than just an IQ test. Common sense and social awareness are perhaps more important than IQ points, and these can be developed at any stage of life.

Related hub: The Importance of a Good Dictionary


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