I recently reconnected with an old classmate whom I haven’t seen or spoken with in ten years. In the course of our conversation, we reminisced on random memories and mutual classmates. I took the opportunity to tell her the positive things I thought about her then but never shared, and the qualities I admired in her. She responded with a remark that had me baffled for a couple of hours. She said she always respect my intelligence and quick-wittedness. That I somehow always had the answers to everything the teacher asked and it boggled her how my mind conjured it, even after it’d be explained to her. I interjected with the fact that intelligence per se won’t take you very far and that I suffered more from it than benefitted. She insisted, and with that I saw myself from the observer’s point of view; the way my parents, my teachers, my friends saw me. It now made sense why all throughout my life people emphasised my intelligence as if it were some novelty to mankind. To me, I didn’t see what people were pointing out because it was apart of me. It was like a short person pointing out the height of a tall person ; ok, then what? It was clear that people thought that intelligence was churning out right answers and sounding sophisticated. That it was an asset only a few lucky enjoyed.
But that is not how it is. It’s a liability. Seeing the world in 7000 different colours can make one blind. Hearing the tears stuck in a friend’s throat and being an emotional satellite for all the suffering in the world is a slow death. It’s not a choice. It’s a constant barrage of information and detection of far-fetched correlations that requires a steady mind to withstand it. It’s not a secret that creative people are tormented by mental daemons , and it was this point I was trying to tell my friend; every gift is a liability, and everyone has a gift. Everyone. No one gift is superior to another. Every person has unique set of characters, inclinations, and innate talents that enables them to fulfill a certain purpose on this earth… Not everyone can be Einstein, Mandela, Muhammad ( ص), Nightingale, or van Gogh because the world only needs one of each of its’ inhabitants, but so many are buried with their potential within them, unused.
Regardless of what cards one has been dealt with, I found one common goal we all can aspire to ; resilience. The ability to bounce back after hardships is what makes a life worth living. Whether you are a single mother of 5 or you were recently diagnosed with MS, you still matter and your battle is this; to match the external gruelling events with internal grit. Never give up. Always get up. Persevere and you’ll find your natural talents. That’s a gift that everyone has.