smarter than average

Posted on March 6, 2009
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Believe me, being a genius is not all its cracked up to be. This Esquire article profiles some of those who struggle with capabilities most of us would see as a blessing….

“Though she is by no means the smartest woman in America–that title goes to Marilyn Mach vos Savant, the Parade magazine columnist–she is way up there, with an IQ around 168. (…) Forty-three years old, twice divorced, the mother of two–a twenty-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son–Gina recently received her Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology from Wayne State University in Detroit, having completed her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in just under five years. (…)

Gina opines that highly intelligent women make the best lovers. She believes that her high libido and her high intelligence are both related to a higher-than-normal percentage of testosterone in her system. When she was young, in fact, she wanted to be a boy, refused to answer to any name other than Billy. (…)

Before she found chess through a correspondence league associated with Mensa, Gina managed a weight-loss clinic, flunked out of three colleges, attended computer-programming school, sold copiers, made sand-art terrariums, sold candy behind the counter at a movie theater. As soon as she played in her first chess tournament, she realized two things. First: This was what she wanted to do with her life. Second: Her marriage to her first husband–a construction worker from the old neighborhood in Brooklyn–was over. She felt the same way when she was accepted into her doctoral program. The night after she received her degree, she informed her second husband that she wanted a divorce. Gina has never had a problem letting go, forging ahead, concentrating on her own needs, making tough decisions, like leaving her daughter behind to pursue her dreams of playing chess. She abhors hanging around.

“When people like me want to do something, we just do it,” she says, typically unabashed. “From learning a musical instrument to learning how to tile your bathroom. You just get the books and you figure it out. It’s a real empowering feeling, knowing that you can do almost anything you try. The hard part, of course, is trying. When I know I can do a presentation better with little or no preparation than the average person can with all kinds of preparation, it’s hard for me to get motivated. I can be very industrious, but I have a lazy side. Or not lazy, really. It’s just, like, I wanna do what I wanna do, you know?”

In a way, she believes, high intelligence works against you, because mundane things are very difficult, and the world is full of mundane things structured for the average person. Waiting in line, paying bills, filling out forms, taking required courses, driving her son to school, answering routine questions, following arbitrary rules–life to her can sometimes be excruciatingly dull. Another difficult obstacle, she says, is finding the patience to communicate properly with others. Though she is a people person of the highest order and has many good friends, she isn’t always easy to get along with. She expects those around her to make leaps they sometimes fail to make. She easily becomes impatient: Why should she have to belabor a point to make herself understood? Sometimes she feels like snapping her fingers–Come on, come on, keep up!”

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