What it's Like to be Sort of Clever

I've been thinking a lot about intelligence recently. After re-watching the whole four series of Cougar Town in one weekend, it dawned on me that I'm not as clever as I'd like to be. Nor am I as inclined to learn about 'intellectual' things as I'd like. 

This blog is proof that my mind tends to get restless, and needs more stimulation than merely observing. I also, however, find happiness in watching Sex and the City and laughing at the jokes on Penguin chocolate bars. To the defence of my IQ, I can, and have, often performed both of these activities simultaneously. 

Just like right and wrong, funny and unfunny, ugly and beautiful, we automatically register things as either highbrow or not. Therefore, we're all partly defined by what we're drawn to. Whilst we can strive to change ourselves in certain ways, we like what we like and, although tastes change as we mature, we can't do much about them.

I'm far more interested in humans, psychology, mental health and sociology than I am history, geography or maths. Of course, ability comes into it - but if, for example, you're genuinely interested in nuclear physics, you at least know what the two words mean. Then there's spatial and social intelligence, neither of which I'd get an A in, seeing as I have about one friend and I acquire roughly three bruises a day from walking into furniture.

There's also the ability to acquire second languages as a determinant of intelligence. I studied German for five years and only ever fully grasped the word for 'ice skating'. As long as I visit Germany in the winter, though, I'm sure I'd survive. 

I'm definitely not clever in academic terms either, but I'm of the belief that the tendency of schools to test nothing but memory and ability to answer questions in a structure set out by exam boards doesn't necessarily measure cognitive function effectively. 

Despite the incessant narcissism engulfing our 'selfie'-mad generation (harsh, yes - but unfortunately true), I think and worry about things beyond my own nose. I can look beyond my own life and take an interest in bigger issues. Yet, is curiosity a sign of intelligence?

My generation has grown up Googling, which has frightening effects on our brains. We've also, for some reason, taken to using the word 'literally' in every other sentence (and incorrectly). For every generation, there are outside influences that will help determine how our brains work. God knows where the habit of butchering the English language came from, but technology certainly has an enormous impact on our brains. 

There are programs and apps designed to shut off the internet/social media for a period of time, so that we can concentrate on work. The mere invention of such a thing is worrying - what happened to our self-control? I'm not by any means saying I've overcome this problem, however - I began writing notes for this blog post on my bed, where the internet connection doesn't reach (ahh, renting in London ). 

Living a happy life is ultimately all anyone cares about when we're on our death beds. Is intelligence the knowing of this, and prioritising happiness - in which case, knowing Cougar Town off by heart means I'm a genius? Life is a complicated, convoluted gift that can arguably be better off left unexamined. Are the cleverest amongst us the ones who avoid taking steps to understand it, and ultimately live a happier life?

I don't know my Aristotle from my aioli, nor do I really care. I read books, but I wouldn't be able to articulately describe why I like particular ones. If anything technological around me broke, I'd struggle to figure out who to call to repair it, never mind how to do so myself. But I'm glad I'm somewhere in the middle of the intelligence spectrum. I have to try hard, but I still get to look down on Geordie Shore.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, and often feel similar in terms of not feeling like I'm actually smart enough. It's funny how much good technology has done, but it's a little terrifying to realise just how dependent everyone has become , myself definitely included.

    1. Thank you! And I'm sure you are :) Yeah, I don't think we even really realise it. But I live in a place with questionable internet, and when it dies I feel a little lost - which is worrying, really! x

  2. I think highly academic people sometimes tend to be lacking in common sense and real world intelligence! It's all about balance! Also, I have a masters degree but I am fed up with people thinking I'm stupid just cos I make cakes now as a business...

    1. I agree! And as if people thing that, that's ridiculous! I think you should wear a badge saying 'I'm not stupid, I have a degree', that'll stop anyone judging you!