The Universal Truth that Smart People Don’t Know

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I’m a genius but I don’t perform well. Am I just a lazy person who thinks he’s a genius?
Well, short answer: no.
Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and somehow a variant of this topic came up. We both think we’re quite smart. There are small glimpses of brilliance amidst a sea of mediocrity and shadows of underperformance for both of us.
How much ever I try to convince myself I’m not the best example of the pinnacle of human evolution, there’s a part of me that tells me I’m being stupid and unreasonable. Not many people have done everything that I’ve done. No one my age has a blog or a youtube channel or plays solos on the guitar while knowing the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and knowing the theory behind why certain equations are quadratic; no one my age writes essays that give Emerson a run for his money (sorry, I just think I’m really good); no one my age is writing a book or has won as many awards as I in interschool quizzes and debates and essay competitions; none of my friends is the Head Boy of our school.
But then again, no one of my calibre periodically gets low marks in each and every one of their exams. I’ve never got more than 50 on 80 in mathematics. I almost failed Geography. I’m the worst person in my grade when it comes to our second language, Hindi. I can’t kick a football without insulting the human species and everything it stands for.
It’s a peculiar mix of being trapped in a cocktail of turmoil and self pity that others fail to realise exists. It’s a lone crisis I experience which gets laughed at by everyone except the teachers who teach me and my parents. For the longest time I was trapped in cycle of laziness when it came to actually doing any work that would get me a mark. Mind you, this is India. Marks are everything, and I do want to collect some. Like Mario wants his coins despite not really needing them to complete the level.
Every so often I’ll tell myself to get some work done, but for the most part underperformance is directly related to the fact that I work far less than I can. I don’t think I’ve ever given a study routine a hundred percent. I always attributed it to laziness, but then this conversation with my friend gave me an idea.
It turns out, I’m secretly on tenterhooks that my work will be ‘genius’; I won’t achieve that platform of amazing perfection where looking down I see the remnants of yearning to succeed and smell the petrichor of triumph, so I cling to any excuse to avoid doing anything to produce results.
I then realised my flaw. Every time I see someone on stage, for example, I imagine myself doing a much better job than whatever they’re doing up there, no matter what they’re speaking about or what they’re acting. Perhaps I can, but it’s the mentality that supports this vehement viewpoint that contributes to poisoning the foundations of reasonability and reliability. This thing seeps into every part of my life; video game scores, website designs, making jokes in a group of people, being kind towards people, writing an answer or whatever it is that can be better than something that others do.
 Not good, I told myself. I have to change. I am, after all, a genius.
So no, nothing anyone tells me can change my viewpoint. I respect everyone’s views, except people whose IQs are hovering around room temperature. 

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Upamanyu Acharya is a writer who doesn't write. Sometimes he's an artist, musician, photographer, physicist or lazy student. His hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is his personal blog where he writes on topics ranging from leadership skills to the consistency of jam.

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