5 Definite Signs You’re Smarter Than You Give Yourself Credit For

Jason Strull / Unsplash

We all have those friends. They’re the ones who can pass an exam with flying colors without studying for a second. Learning comes naturally to them and they retain everything they come across. They can pick up a piece of sheet music and start playing a symphony without practicing a day in their life.

When we’re around people like for long stretches of time, we can start to question our own intelligence. After all, it might take us days to cram for a test and we still get a grade we’re unsatisfied with. Maybe we’ve been honing a craft for ages and have yet to master it. Yet, just as weight-loss experts will tell you that the number on the scale isn’t everything and it’s not fully demonstrative of your progress, the same holds true for personal brilliance. Before you get discouraged and start questioning your abilities, read on. Today, we’re sharing five signs that you’re actually smarter than you think.

1. You can focus and multi-task easily.

You can fold laundry, watch your favorite television show, help your daughter with her homework and get dinner ready — all at the same time. You’re capable of keeping more than one ball up in the air simultaneously and you rarely break focus. If this sounds like you, you’re more highly intelligent than you think. Why? The ability to tune out all distractions and concentrate on the task or tasks at hand requires great mental strength.

It takes a complex mental process to determine what is the most important and filter out all the extraneous material surrounding it. In our fast-paced world where your attention is demanded and captured at every turn, being able to laser-focus your brain isn’t easy. If you’re the go-to, do-all person in your household, give yourself credit.

2. You can go with the flow.

We can set concrete plans all day long, but the reality is that sometimes those plans can change. Maybe your best friend cancels on the coffee date you’ve had planned all week. Or, perhaps your boss changes project requirements on you just two days before the big deadline. Do you stress out, throw something and call your significant other on the phone in tears? Or, do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, adjust your perspective and get back to the grind as quickly as possible?

If it’s the latter, you’re smarter than you know. Being able to adapt to your surroundings, as unpredictable and unplanned as they might be, shows a mental clarity and flexibility that few can claim. If you thrive just as well in a group setting with tons of people as during a one-on-one chat with your significant other, consider yourself intelligent. That’s a coping mechanism that can take a lifetime for some to hone and even then, changes can still throw them for a loop.

3. You’re eager to learn.

There are things we inherently understand, and then there is knowledge that must be acquired. Do you find yourself naturally curious about everything you haven’t discovered yet? If you’re willing to state that you don’t know something but are willing to find out more about it, you’re smart regardless of what any test score says. Why? A willingness to accept your shortcomings while pressing onward in the pursuit of knowledge is a sign of both maturity and intelligence.

The curious mind never stops learning. A routine visit to your favorite restaurant can be a classroom, as is a day spent at the park or a night under the stars. You look for the unknown and seek out opportunities to try new things. Maybe you begin a new hobby, such as beekeeping, home-brewing or archery, that’s always interested you. Or, maybe you spend hours on the computer discovering new insights that take a little digging to uncover. Whatever your preferred medium, if you’re always on the lookout for a place to expand your horizons, you’ll never have a shortage of opportunities for both learning and growth.

4. You have immense self-control.

This doesn’t just apply to your ability to stay away from that massive stash of Halloween candy. If you can practice self-control in all aspects of your life, from your health to your hobbies, that strength begins in your mind. Honing the ability to discern the difference between what you need and what you want doesn’t come easily. Too often, we fall prey to instant gratification, seeking to fulfill short-term desires that might not serve us in the long-term. That’s where self-control comes in.

If you’re able to overcome such impulsivity and instead let practicality guide your decision-making, you’re connecting those mental neurons responsible for successful quick thinking. This is a lifelong skill that can take you far in all areas of your life, from your personal environments to your professional ones. The key here is the ability to see the bigger picture and know which choices will serve you down the road. Looking ahead and focusing on the future is a mental skill that takes immense focus.

5. You’re emotionally intelligent.

Are you naturally empathetic? In other words, can you relate to what someone is feeling or going through even if you’ve never been down that particular road before? If so, that’s a clear sign of emotional intelligence and maturity. Sometimes, even though being book smart doesn’t come as easily to us, we’re able to interact with others on a level that most can’t. Think about it:

Are you the person that all your friends go to when they need to vent or just want a listening ear? Can you act in a way that’s sensitive to their present needs and meets them where they are? If so, you have a different level of intelligence that’s often overlooked but is equally important. Fully realizing the myriad patterns and facets of emotions is an essential part of life and being able to succeed in this sense can take you farther in life than you might realize.

Finding and Living Into Your Personal Intelligence

Knowing all of the answers on a difficult math test might be a sign of one specific kind of intelligence. However, ultimately, your “smarts” are discovered and revealed in more than one way. Maybe you connect on a deeper emotional level with others than most can. Or, maybe you have a depth of perspective, self-control or curiosity that ignites a separate section of your brain than fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice exams ever could.

Before you write yourself off as unintelligent, take a second to reassess how you define intelligence in the first place. Turns out, it’s more than being book smart. It’s being able to read the people and situations around you and respond in a manner that’s appropriate and progressive. If you can say “yes” to any of the above five statements, you’re already ahead of the game. Even if you can’t, you’re still smarter than you realize. You just haven’t found your niche yet and that’s OK. After all, it’s the pursuit of all of these things that makes the difference in the end. If you’re heading fervently in the direction of your personal journey, you can’t help but learn along the way. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

A work-from-home mama of two who loves fashion and family.

Keep up with Courtney on Instagram and ilovethrifting.com

More From Thought Catalog