When someone is asked what their desirable characteristics are in a potential partner, one of the first attributes many people say is “they have to be smart,” and “I want someone I can have intellectual conversations with.” This usually defined as someone who is book smart, knowledgeable or in other words, someone who is very clever. The problem with this is that it excludes and denies people who are intelligent in other areas, but not necessarily in books or academia.
It’s damaging for two reasons:
- People who are talented in something are led to believe that they are not smart, even if their genius lies in something else.
- People who do well academically or are “book smart”, are led to believe that they don’t have a talent or gift.
Someone can be really good at sport, be a master in the art of performance, a creative genius, a handy person or just a banging cook and STILL BE as intelligent and as smart as someone who knows a lot about politics, the history of a country and gets straight As in all their subjects.
We live in an education system that looks less on those who do not follow the typical academic route. I always found it confusing why my elders would say they would always respect the unemployed man who has a degree to a man working a labour intensive skilled job on a very good salary. I would never shame anyone that is very smart, unemployed with a degree and is actively looking for work, so why should we do the same to someone who pursues a non-conventional career, knowing that school was never one of their strong points?
Growing up I always did considerably well at school; I left school and college with good grades. But, I always felt like I wasn’t anything special, because I never had a real talent and well getting good grades is what you’re supposed to do. From a Christian perspective, I’ve always believed that we all have individual talents that God has given us, and we should use our talents to excel in what we’re good at it, all whilst serving God. If you’re good at writing, write a book, if you can sing, make an album, if you love speaking about yourself, create your own YouTube channel – what’s better is make a living out of your talents! I now know that I am more talented in ways that I never thought I could be and even more, I love being around people who have various talents!
I have challenged myself to either change the way that I conceptualise the world “smart” and “intelligent,” or begin to use the word “talent”.
So next time someone asks me the question mentioned at the start of this post, I will say one of the attributes I look for is someone who is “talented” or “intelligent in what they are good at doing” and it would mean the same for someone who is gifted with a passion for maths, or someone who is great at playing guitar, good at writing or is exceptional in public speaking!
Let’s stop saying “smart” or “intelligent”, because it disregards those who are GENIUSES in other non-academic things. And they make much more interesting friends and partners too (if like me, you’re not really good at much things)!