What If I’m Not Smart?

Burning Words
3 min readJan 24, 2022

Have I been living a placebo all my life?

Now, I promise I do not mean this in a self deprecating way, and I am not trying to get sympathy from my friends and family, or get texts saying “Emma no, you’re brilliant,” because guess what…that is what feeds my theory.

Disclaimer: I do genuinely believe that I am intelligent and that I have smarts. I am incredibly grateful for the skills and lessons that I have been taught throughout my life and the people who taught them to me. This was just a rabbit hole that my mind decided to travel down one afternoon while eating peanut butter pretzel nuggets. So let us continue.

My entire life I have had teachers, parents, friends, and peers tell me that I am smart or that I am intellectually gifted (I was never a TAG kid, but that’s okay I’m not bitter). I have had good greats most of my school career, so on paper I am intelligent…but what if I’m not?

What if I have just grown up believing such, and I’ve learned to trick people into thinking that I’m smart? I don’t use big words or anything, but I believe I speak fairly eloquently, and I can act like I know what I’m talking about even when I don’t have a clue. However, what I’m really getting at is what if I not only tricked the people around me, but I also tricked myself? What if I have been “faking it until I make it”…but I don’t know I’m faking it? I have learned to play the part of a smart kid, but I don’t know I’m on stage, performing?

This question came to my mind after being in one my writing poetry classes where everyone was sharing ideas that they got from that days reading, but I couldn’t identify with anything they said. I sat there thinking I did not get that at all, did I miss something? Or did my brain decide to stop faking it? Did my mind realize that she reached her limit and taped out? She has been wearing a mask for so long that it was time to hang it up? Had she thrown in the towel? Am I really not good at the thing that I love? And it had been so easy to fake it because I’ve been the shy quiet girl up until adulthood?

I have come more out of my shell since my introverted high school days (I would like to believe), so the cards are on the table now. I cannot hide behind a closed mouth anymore because words cannot just exist within essays and tests, they have to be spoken to prove understanding. Where does my intelligence sit in regards to everyone else. Yes, I know an IQ test can tell me that, but I’m not that deep into this crisis to know THAT bad.

To end this post on a not so existential-type note, I will close with a good point that a close friend told me that helped my crawl out of this rabbit hole I fell down:

“I feel like someone who is THIS self aware of what their brain can or cannot do is not lacking in intellect” -Carly Lords

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Burning Words

By: Emma Gomes…all I got to say is I’m excited. Let’s do this!