“You’re weird.” I think that started in Kindergarten. I had to wear corrective shoes, so not sneakers. I immediately stood out from the crowd. I had a vast vocabulary as a first grader, but I didn’t start reading chapter books until Fifth Grade…The Robe by Douglas Lloyd. I heard that phrase “You’re so weird!” every day, multiple times a day, for all of elementary school. I was imbued with the connections between subjects, music and art, art and history, history and literature, literature and math, math and science, science and music, and around and around and around it goes. I took for granted that everyone thought this way. They don’t. People didn’t understand my jokes. I was (and am) loud when I get excited. When we started on the SRA reading program in fifth grade, I zoomed ahead and got through all of the fifth grade requirements, the sixth grade, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade requirements. There were one or two others in the class that did that too. That would be two or three of us out of a class of thirty that reached ninth grade level in fifth grade.
Because our elementary school was a lab school, we were the mice they experimented on. No one in public school got as many standardized tests as we did. Where the rest of the class was worried about content, I learned how to take tests. You didn’t have to have a whole lot of content mastery to do well on the test. This surprised some teachers. I was the exception, not the rule, though. Therefore, they didn’t have to make adjustments. I was the outlier. I was weird.
Somewhere along the way, weird translated to stupid. I transferred to public school in seventh grade because my teacher at the lab school was psycho. I was in tears Every Day with this woman! Remember that I hadn’t started reading chapter books until fifth grade? I decided for my 1000-page per month book-reading requirement that I was going to read David Copperfield (850 pages). My psycho teacher said I couldn’t do it, so, of course, I did and wrote a book report on it. She accused me of cheating even though I could quote her passages and explain the whole plot to her without notes. My folks adamantly denied I had cheated. It made no difference. She flunked me on that project. I transferred before the winter break. At this time, I’d already studied Spanish for 3 1/2 years, so vocabulary words in my English class were easy–Latin roots etc. made new English words easy to understand. Though in the fifth grade classroom at the lab school, we had experimented with the “New Math,” the public school seventh graders where I now found myself were just getting into it. My teacher was not very familiar with “New Math.” They discouraged mental flexibility and solving problems without pencil and paper. For the tests, I wrote the answer and then went back and did all the steps.
The question I had to answer was this: 12 – x = 7.
- Soooo in my head it came out in English. What’s the difference between 12 and 7? The answer is 5. I couldn’t just write 5 and go on to the next question though. So on the bottom line I wrote “5 = x”
- Then I filled in all the steps: 12 – x – 7 = 7 – 7
- 12 – x – 7 = (7 – 7) = 0
- 12 – x – 7 = (12 – 7) – x
- (12 – 7) – x + x = 0 + x
- (12 – 7) + (-x + x) = 0 + x
- 12 – 7 + 0 = x
- 5 + 0 = x
- 5 = x
NOW go on to the next question. What a horrendous way to spend twenty minutes. Only one other person in that class was done in twenty minutes. He was the smartest kid in the class. Everyone else took the full fifty minutes. My teacher assumed I’d given up and was surprised there were any answers on my test when I turned it in. Then She accused me of cheating. I wanted to issue a challenge to the other kid that had finished in twenty minutes, but this was public school. You don’t have competitions to improve your skill. It might make someone in the class feel bad. I asked her how I could have “given up” after twenty minutes and a full thirty minutes before those sitting around me and copied from people who didn’t pass the test and still get a 95% on it? The look on her face confirmed she was unfamiliar with logical debate. From then on, we had to bring our work up to the teacher’s desk as we finished it instead of just passing it forward at the end of class. It was a race now between me and the other bright kid, and we were always first and second. Sometimes he won, sometimes I did. Now I was REALLY weird. Girls are not supposed to be good at Math–we were supposed to be brilliant at English and Spelling and Social Studies. Julie and Paula and I were also good at science. Julie and Paula got a pass because they were smart. (?) I was weird so I wasn’t supposed to be smart? I was loud and obnoxious, so I couldn’t be smart.
OK, everything will be different when I go to college…oh well. Nope.
I could hear better than anyone in the music department. I could even identify metronome beats per minute without looking at it. So it would go tick tick tick tick and I’d say, “Ah, that’s 84 beats per minute,” and be right. This is a trick. This is not a tool. It not a skill that anyone would want to acquire. I took the final exam for ear training and sight singing and passed it without taking the class. I was once again accused of cheating. I was now expecting this type of reaction. I invited them to test me again on any other song they chose. They didn’t. But then they had me as “dropped from course” instead of passing it. I didn’t even realize they’d done that until I went back to school in ’86 and got a look at my transcript. Every time I did well in a course, regardless of the subject matter, I was accused of cheating. I guess it is suspicious to have someone that was weird be good at anything. I took Calculus, Fortran IV (dark ages with punch cards!) and Assembly language computer programming classes and they thought my boyfriend was doing my homework and were surprised when I got an A on the final exam. I took Renaissance History and Renaissance Literature, and they were surprised that a music major would get A’s on the final tests. I only had to take English Composition and Grammar once and apparently that’s unusual among music majors.
Then I went to get a second degree in Business, and when I did well on the accounting classes and the business law classes, they were surprised that I had another degree in Music (the horror!) I took a Geology class and not expected to do well because business majors didn’t take Geology classes. I took advanced statistics and business majors were mostly into marketing so when I did well there and was actually tutoring some of the other students, it was because I was cheating–my husband was helping me write the computer programs that I wrote in Basic to do my homework and check my students’. (Remember the boyfriend from earlier? Same guy. We got married!) Nope I didn’t cheat; that was all me. And I was pregnant. I was weird because I actually liked Macro and Micro Economics. I took the GMAT and got 650+ and that did not surprise anyone. They were surprised that I took the test at all. After all, business majors who are mothers of four kids do not usually go back for a masters’ degree. And, I didn’t. We moved and I hadn’t been accepted into any Masters programs. It reinforced my belief that maybe I wasn’t as special as I thought I was.
I have been head-butting the “you’re weird, you can’t be innovative or smart or wise” all my life. It’s only been in the last 10 or so years that I quit fighting. I had looked back on my life and realized that it didn’t matter how much I knew, how long I’d studied, how well I remembered things, or how I expressed my wisdom. I was not at all as special as I thought myself to be. If the first thing EVERYONE thought was that I was not very bright, that I was a goof off, that I was a trouble maker, or that I was an arrogant self-centered narcissist, MAYBE THEY WERE RIGHT. I tried not to stick out. I tried not to show what I knew while secretly hoping someone would see me for me besides my husband.
Long-term friends now recognize that I have a lot of intelligence and skill in a wide variety of subjects. But most people’s first impression of me is that I’m not very smart. I still get that look of shock when I speak from the perspective of a fairly intelligent being with an integrated approach to things physical, mental and spiritual. I guess I’ve spoken about this before.
Unfortunately, I am extremely intolerant of ignorant people. Given the overload of information that is currently from a multitude of sources, I find that people that latch onto the things that make absolutely no sense MADDENING! I cannot understand how anyone could fact check the things they see online or hear on TV or Radio espoused as the “truth” and ignore (hence ignorant) the facts and the context of said information. So sometimes I let my “intelligence, wisdom, and factual grounding” blow-up on the screen. It’s like I’m reading or listening to something really foolish and I say or post, “Wait just a dam minute! Do you hear what you’re saying?!!! Shut up and do some detective work before you start spouting off stuff you clearly do not understand! You are making yourself look like a foo… Wait? you got 500 likes and people agreeing with you in the first minute since you posted something this stupid?” And from the ignorant person I get, “Where’d that come from? I thought you were enlightened! You’re just as delusional as ______________(fill in the blank with the most esteemed expert in whatever area you want to discuss)” So now I get blasted by all of my ignorant friends and all HIS ignorant friends as someone who’s obviously been deceived. I’m now a member of the sheeple? Excuse me? So given a choice between overwhelming factual proof and incontrovertible evidence versus the overwhelming negative responses and personal attacks what should I do? Unfriend a person because they’re ignorant? I keep backing myself into the patronizing activity of these doofuses with the head patting, “It’s ok, I like you even if you are woefully uninformed about the FACT that the earth really is flat…” Once again, I’m not as smart and informed and wise as I think I am. I feel like I don’t belong here.
Yes, I still want to see their cute kids and their latest fur baby antics. I love their vacation pictures. But I wish they’d stay out of philosophy and science and politics and religion because on the ladder of awareness and scientific study and theological background, they are not even on the third rung. When they expose their lack of understanding, I have to show extreme restraint to keep from pouring slime all over their heads. I realize I’m not at the top of the ladder and someone above me might be fighting the same urge to pour on me. But I think I’m miles above them. And this is my problem. I am weird. My greatest fear is that I’m only on the fourth rung.
What this is demonstrates the fact that where I think of myself on an intellectual and philosophical scale may be incongruent with my actual position.