Alone by Upsplash

Intelligence Can Make you Lonely

Alone by Upsplash
Alone by Upsplash

Dear Son,

Being Intelligent will give you the best chances to be successful, happy, and to live a long life, although it is no guarantee.  I plan on doing everything I can to help you grow your mind – to become a sharp and clear thinker.  I will teach you how to play with ideas, to speak well, to read other people, to ask questions about what you are learning, and to reason with logic. I will challenge you with puzzles, riddles, and stories.  I will take care that you get the most of our schooling – and that you get an education that will help you be happy when you are grown.

I will love you however smart you turn out to be.  You are not your mind.  It will not define your wrth as a human being.  As a good father, though, I would be remiss id I didn’t do my absolute best to let you make the most of the brain that you have.

But there is one thing I have learned the hard way about being clever in the hardest possible way:

Being smart can make you feel lonely.

The world is full of bad ideas that people are happy to eat up.  Every time I turn on the news or listen to students talking about their classes, I see where people are limiting themselves, making themselves unhappy, or keeping alive stories that hurt us as a culture.  I can’t help but listen to the diagloue of the day and wonder:

“Is everyone else crazy?  Am I crazy?  Why don’t they see how much they are holding themselves back with these tired old ideas?”

It can make you feel very alone some days – like a visitor from another planet.

When I was young I let this feeling run around unchecked.  At times it made me angry at the world.  Other times it made me just want to avoid human contact.  Sometimes it made me feel special in the worst possible way: that no one could understand me; that meant I didn’t bother trying to reach out to other people.

I see so many smart people letting this feeling make them close themselves off and to resent other people.  There is a lot of terrible things that happen in the world when smart people lose their empathy because they let themselves feel apart for too long.

I made that mistake myself for a very long time.  I isolated myself from other kids when I was a teenager.  I didn’t have many friends, and I could be rude and superior with kids that I thought were dumb.  And that invited bullies into my life, while also making sure I didn’t have friends at my back to support me in the face of bullying.

A sharp mind is usually a double-edged sword.  A man who is smart can often become foolish when it comes to compassion and empathy for other people.  Wisdom is different from intelligence.  To use your intellect wisely there are some traits that you need to cultivate in yourself.

  • Humility
  • Gratitude
  • Empathy
  • Compassion

I promise you that I will do my best to make sure that you are not just smart, but that you are also wise so that you will never be lonely and et loneliness rule you.


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