‘Intelligent’ is a word that scares me.

It’s a compliment I am afraid of accepting, for fear I would become complacent. I have learned to be in constant motion, constant movement, propelled forward, never accepting, always questioning, and compelled by change. ‘Intelligent’ is just a word, but a word I refuse, that I cannot assimilate or digest. It’s one of those words too big, too small, and after I’m done mulling over it, it still really means nothing at all. I don’t like the word intelligent. And even if I was… What then? What purpose? Why does it matter? What would it do, accomplish, change? Why do we chase after it, as if receiving the compliment will define our worth for the rest of our lives? And after some introspection, no, I’d rather not accept that word, I’d rather leave it out of the conversation, pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s a word with no flavor, it leaves a tasteless impression in my mouth, an unsettling one, with an inconsistent texture. It’s a point that is moot, a qualification that seems useless.

I just don’t like the word.

He says, “you’re mad smart”, and my first reflex is to fight it, to question his motives. Why? How? And based on what? Why did he feel the need to say it, what did he try to tell me? Was the aim of his compliment to make me feel appreciated, should it have eased my mind? Was it his way to say he valued my opinion, the things I had to say? Was it just one of those things people say without really understanding their meaning? Does receiving a compliment from someone you care about… should it mean something more, should it be some kind of reassurance? Maybe the assessment of my worth through his eyes could have eased my mind… Maybe.

I don’t think I’ll ever be at ease with being called intelligent, and it strikes me that there was a time I cared about it, and even needed to know I was, and be viewed as such. But I’ve let go of that, and I feel at peace with myself, accepting that it doesn’t matter anymore, and that in fact, I’d rather be something else.

Image Source: Felicity

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