You gotta play the hand that’s dealt you. There may be pain in that hand, but you play it.
I was blessed – or cursed – with an IQ of 150; top 2% of the population. I qualified for Mensa.
The blessing was that I enjoyed reading and learning and did very well in exams and competitions in my childhood and teens.
The curse was that emotionally and socially I lagged far behind my intellect for many years. Being the youngest in my class at school didn’t help and left me open to bullying (“have you swallowed a dictionary or what?”).
I suffered from social phobia (fear of people) and an eating disorder from a very young age. I would often vomit before exams or competitions and I found it difficult to eat in public. I came across as confident and few people realised how much I suffered from low self-esteem.
I once read a good explanation for eating disorders. If someone’s life seems out of their control, It seems to them that the only choice they can make (often subconsciously) is whether to eat or not.
I believe that, once I developed schizophrenia (in my early 20s), my episodes in psychiatric hospital amounted to a crash course in communication skills. I had thought that being intelligent was what mattered; now I realised that being human mattered much more. I began to learn small talk. Another plus was that my mental illness meant I had to retire from the competitive and stressful life that I had been leading and my life became much simpler.
Today I am mostly happy with the balance of my life. I hope and believe that the rest of me has caught up with my intellectual head-start. I certainly feel more peaceful than I used to be.
The Worry Tree
Once upon a time there was a big tree at the top of the hill. It was called the worry tree. On the appointed day, a group of people climbed to the tree. They were carrying knapsacks of their worries. They each hung their knapsacks onto the tree and were told that they could pick any knapsack they liked to take home. As they circled the tree, they became aware that everybody had their cross to bear, and one by one, they chose the knapsack that they came with. They realised that our own difficulties are best suited to us.
Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.
* Words on Strength and Perseverance – a Helen Exley Giftbook (pocket size); part of the “Words for Life” series
Bye for now