For the Smart Ones

I’ve been stewing for days over a blog post about how I have a crippling fear of being dumb. I was going to mention the time I almost cried during our first Steinbeck lecture because all my comments were stupid and unsupported by the text. And then I was going to blame everybody and everything for making me so afraid of stupidity. I would have made a stab at my dad for constantly making me feel like a silly little girl—even now that I’m 20. I would have thrown the church under the bus for making me so obsessed with right vs wrong that I eventually started to think having a bad idea makes me a bad person. I had big plans to make errbody feel sorry for poor, stupid Jessica.

But that would have been dumb.

I’d rather say this: I’m surrounded by a lot of smart friends.  And I’m glad (even if I do sometimes feel a little dumb in comparison).

Some of them graduated valedictorian or won prestigious awards in high school. Others know several languages. Some of them write poetry so mind-blowing the professor uses it to teach the rest of us. They expertly plan parties and make people feel welcome. They can analyze complex literature and film so fast it terrifies me.  They know when I’m feeling down and how to cheer me up (something I don’t even know sometimes). And as far as I know, all of them are potty-trained. So that’s good.

You get the point. My friends are effing awesome.

I love that they teach me so much without arrogance and self-interest. I love that I get excited to hear what they’ve been writing and that they always challenge me to share my own work. But mostly, I love that they think through their struggles and disappointments in ways that help others. I’m glad my smart friends aren’t assholes, and that they don’t think I’m an asshole for being pouty or needy sometimes.

If you’re reading this and you’re one of my smart friends, know that I value you as human beings and not brains. But I’m still thankful that you’re all such great teachers who use words and ideas graciously and constructively. Thanks for being in my life. You’re all awesome.

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