We often draw conclusions about people based on the way they look and the positions they hold in society, and that includes how smart we think somebody is. If someone is sporting the bow-tie, thick glasses, and high-waters, on top of being a software whiz, chess grand master, Sudoku champion, we automatically assume they’re smart.
On the other hand, there are plenty of smart people out there with completely different interests and hobbies beyond the stereotypical images presented above. Here are 10 signs that you’re exceptionally smart, even though you might not appear to be.
1. You’re curious–like a cat.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also helped motivate some of the most influential people in history. It drove Benjamin Franklin to tie keys to kite strings during storms. It drove James Cameron to build a one-of-a-kind submarine to explore the Mariana Trench. It drove the first person that ever sucked on cow udders to discover milk. Yes, maybe natural curiosity causes you to try some things that others think are just weird and crazy–but where would we be without that curiosity? Sitting around with no electricity, no idea of the depth of the ocean, and no milk, that’s where.
If you’re one of these honorable curiosities, then there’s also no doubt that…
2. You ask way too many questions.
It’s a common misconception that “smart people always have an answer”. The truth of the matter is that smart people are always searching for an answer, and always asking questions of the world around them–and where better to ask than the internet? Nowadays, we have the ability at our fingertips to access an archive of collective human knowledge… but most people are too busy snapping selfies to notice. The trick behind finding the right information on the internet is knowing how to ask the right questions–something smart people do all the time.
Unfortunately, a lot of information in media and on the internet is pretty skewed in our society, which leads us to the next indicator that you’re actually really smart…
3. You’re a skeptic.
Skeptics don’t take anything at face value. They want to know the truth, and aren’t distracted by false and illogical claims. They often catch flack for not conforming to conventionally accepted norms, but sleep well knowing that they think for themselves.
Now, this is not to say that all skeptics are smart, or even that all smart skeptics are correct in their skepticism, no, because even if you are the smartest of skeptics…
4. You are not afraid to admit when you are wrong.
“I know one thing: that I know nothing” – Socrates
This quote is often referred to as the “Socratic Paradox”, and it means to highlight that the wiser person is not the person who presumes to know everything, but rather the person who recognizes that they don’t. This runs counter to today’s popular idea that smart people should never admit that they’re wrong or mistaken–but we all know that one smart guy who thinks he knows everything… and we all know he’s not really that smart.
So keep on admitting you’re wrong. It’s healthy, and a sign that…
5. You’re emotionally intelligent.
The University of Maryland defines emotional IQ as the “skills used to understand and manage emotions effectively”. It’s different from standard intelligence because it deals less with cognition, but shows the depths to which a person can control their own emotions. Putting that last bit of money into savings despite the urge to spend it, choosing healthy options over junk food, and getting back to work instead of surfing the web (caught ya!) are all signs of well-developed emotional intelligence.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should just shut off your emotions, especially not if…
6. You enjoy art.
A lot of times, art demands that we think abstractly, perhaps even that we feel and not think at all. Comprehending pieces like Picasso’s Guernica isn’t necessarily a walk in the park, but those with a mind for it are up for a history lesson and half, and that’s before even getting into interpreting the meaning of the horse and the bull and the lack of color throughout.
But enjoying art doesn’t have to come down to liking Picasso–it can be as simple as getting lost in a guitar solo or the lyrics of a socially conscious rapper or singer in your headphones, especially if it gets you to think so much that…
7. You think about thinking.
Thinking about thinking, or being aware of your own thought processes, is called meta-cognition. It’s an interesting way to examine how you problem solve and react to certain stimuli, but it’s also been shown to encourage critical thinking and help maximize cognitive skills. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking too much, however–spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing is one of the commons faults of smart people.
Speaking of fault, you might be a smart person if…
8. You stay up late, drink, and do drugs.
Yes, you read that right. Studies have shown that children with a high IQ are six times more likely to binge drink as adults and two to three times more likely to use illicit drugs. They are also more likely to be night owls. Indeed, many philosophers and other great minds of the past used to stay up all night with wine to “loosen the tongue” and talk about whatever business they pleased, seeking refuge in their conversations with one another.
Unfortunately, there aren’t as many thinkers around nowadays, and many of them, like you, keep a low profile. Thus, it’s only natural that…
9. You feel socially removed.
Because of all the previously mentioned traits, smart people aren’t necessarily seen as “smart” first and foremost anymore, but as artsy-fartsy skeptics who stay up too late and ask too many questions. Okay, maybe you don’t fit that description, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re more apt to stay away from fads that the standard “herd” seems to find cool all the time. There’s just something about your peers that you don’t get–or maybe it’s something about you that they don’t get–but in the end it generally frees up time for other, more important ventures.
This is important, because…
10. You fail–a lot. But you learn from your mistakes.
Most smart people throughout history failed a ton, a humongous amount–but for every thousand failures they had their one grand success. Google’s Larry Page and Apple’s Steve Jobs both went through tumultuous times being run out of garages as startups, and even Bill Gates’s first business failed miserably. What sets these legendary examples apart is that they got back on the horse and kept re-imagining and planning for success until they obtained it.
One thing that the smartest figures in history recognized was that they would not and could not be constrained by their image. They understood the value inherent in simply being smart, and they used that to their advantage to shape the world we live in today.
They utilized their smarts to the utmost and changed history. What are you doing with yours?
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