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Has intellectual arrogance become your underachievement armor?

Has intellectual arrogance become your underachievement armor?2015-04-19T12:30:09+00:00

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey Is It Just Me? Has intellectual arrogance become your underachievement armor?

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    I always end up in the same conversations, and they usually begin with someone else saying something like, “Why do you have to prove how much smarter you are than me all the time?”

    The other person rarely responds well to my answers, usually because I forget they aren’t in my head with me to understand the context of my answer. If I respond, “Why do you have to prove how much more successful you are than me all the time?” Thinking that the question implies that the way I speak is no more directed at the other than the other’s success is directed at me, and also provides them with a more substantial basis to feel equal to or even superior to me. However, I am constantly surprised when the other person is profoundly insulted.

    Could it really be that the other person thinks I am implying s/he doesn’t deserve his/her success? Where would that come from? Does she think I’m implying the job she does would be so easy for me that in my mind she’s paid too much? All of you reading this (the one or two of you) know how long I could go with the question list.

    There is something off putting to many people about our brilliance. We all are. My brother is also an ADHD person, but unlike me he has the big old H extremely present. Instead of irritation about talking a million miles an hour about subjects that others find intimidating, my brother jumps between passions (snow/skate boarding, engine repair, music recording, hiking, hunting, etc.) as many non-HDHD people do, but when he does it it’s all-in this week to the point that he believes he’ll be one of the best in the world, and then the next week it’s into something else with equal belief that he will be the best. (I tend to write in run-on sentences about my brother because it’s kind of paying homage to who he is) My brother does not make people angry because he makes them feel stupid, in fact, it is the exact opposite in that people fail to see how brilliant he is. He may not be the greatest at any of his passions, but he is damned proficient in most of them.

    What was I writing about?…oh yeah…Under achievement armor…

    I am a fantastic learner, and always have been. What I am not is a good student. In fact I am almost 40 and still trying to get my BS in psychology. I started out this most recent attempt, with 4 terms on the President’s list, but recently my intolerance for repetitive curriculum has gotten the better of me, and I am in danger of not completing again. I understand and respect the educational system, but even with improvements it doesn’t understand me. Why can’t there just be a comprehensive test I can take to demonstrate my level of understanding, and ability to apply learning to life? Please don’t try to console me on this as it’s only expository.

    I am ready and able to help people. I have work to do on myself, but I am a good counselor also. Without credentials I can’t make a living off of my abilities, but I can’t obtain credentials without mind numbing slog through school.

    My catch 22.

    So, yes. I spend a significant amount of time trying to show the world how much I know. However, I spend an equal amount of time talking passionately about things that interest me (food, molecular gastronomy, sports, physics, string theory, M theory, the Big Bang theory, The Big Bang Theory, psychology, ADHD, politics, movies, TV, philosophy, insurance, literature, comic books, cartoons, toys, motorcycles, and much much more).

    Trouble is, that it’s usually when I’m trying to talk to someone about a shared interest to create a stronger bond that s/he thinks I’m trying to be smarter. If I try to share my info I talk too much, but if I try to just listen I end up with the zoned out look.

    Even my friends who understand ADHD have a hard time sometimes. One of my best friends often quips, “I think it’s time for you to take another pill.” After 20 years, and several conversations it’s still beyond his comprehension how much it hurts.


    Post count: 906

    Hi @1of347namesconsidered, welcome to TADD. (Love your user name. I might steal it next time I need to come up with one.)

    I can relate to what you are talking about, in pretty much every part of your comment. I think I must be somewhere in between you and your brother. I am not overly hyperactive, or terribly brilliant, but I seem to annoy people when I talk about things the same way you do and I jump from one interest to the next like your brother does without ever finishing anything. But then I end up getting frustrated and give up and sit on the couch like a lump for a day, or 2, or 365.

    I love showing how smart I am, and I get very distressed when people don’t listen or give me the attention I feel I deserve. Like the time when my parents kept telling everyone that one of their friends who helped us move figured out how to make the fridge fit in the kitchen by raising the ceiling, when it was actually my idea. The friend suggested it to them because he was the only one who was listening to me when I suggested it. And I corrected them every time and it was like I wasn’t even speaking….. And this was when I was a teenager and I still haven’t let it go.

    I became aware that I use intellectual arrogance as emotional armour… probably a few years ago, not sure but that’s what it feels like (which is how I place things in time, by “feeling”). I am a failure in every aspect of my life and I have to prove how smart I am and how capable I am constantly in order to compensate for it, which leads in turn to more failure when I get myself into trouble by shooting my mouth off or taking on a task just to prove I can and then having it turn out I can’t. I keep trying to give up completely and just resign myself to a life of mediocrity, but I fail at that every time too.

    I also have an extremely low tolerance for willful ignorance (aka stupidity) and sometimes just can’t stop myself from correcting people who I feel are exhibiting such ignorance. Which makes me seem like, as one person put it, an “intellectual snob”. I don’t really mean to be and I try to be patient, especially with those who have a legitimate reason for not being “smart”, but I just lose my patience at times and I can’t stand it anymore.

    On the other hand, it can be quite embarrassing when I think I know more than I do and it turns out I’m the one who is wrong. Not that I ever admit to being wrong. I just keep on talking until I manage to make it sound like I’m right, or at least like it’s not my fault that I’m wrong, or I just wear the other person down. As a last resort, I might admit to being misinformed and say that I will look into the subject further.


    I know exactly what you mean when you say that people misinterpret your answers and take everything the wrong way. And about trying to connect with people by discussing shared interests and having them end up being put off. It’s sometimes because they think I’m being a show off I guess. Sometimes it’s the opposite, because I don’t seem to know enough about the subject to suit them. I like to discuss things like comics,  movies, The Big Bang Theory, and the Big Bang, because I am interested, but because  I don’t know *everything* there is to know, people sort of dismiss me and don’t want to talk to me about it. Or they correct me and start lecturing me when I get one teeny little thing wrong. At least that’s the way it seems to me, but then that might just be my insecurity.

    I don’t know what the solution is, if there is one. I have just accepted that on the rare occasion that I do make a friend, it won’t last long. Even with people I seem to be really compatible with, they will eventually just stop talking to me. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at entertaining myself and don’t really feel the need to be around people much. (emotional suit of armour #2)



    Post count: 32

    Hi, I still laugh when I remember the Friday Funny postcard which has a 1950s women leaning over a table, looking and smiling -and the tag line is ‘Your secret is safe with me because I wasn’t listening!’ This describes most personal conversations within my entire life!

    I care very much about friends and family, but this doesn’t stop me getting bored , jumping in to hurry them along when I can see from miles away where they are heading, changing the subject to something that I find more interesting, blurting out a sideways thought that obscurely connects to the topic, injecting jokes that make me really laugh and then I notice that nobody else gets it, getting up and doing something while they are talking because I am restless, ruining watching a film together because I keep making comments or again getting up and moving around……the list goes on and on.

    Irrespective of how smart or otherwise we may be, the question is -what is a conversation, and what is that we hope to achieve through conversation?

    I have got it wrong so often over the years that I learned to self modify and regulate myself to such an extent that I only have genuinely free conversations where I am ‘safe’ to be fully myself with a few people. For years, my drive home from work involved a check list – did I walk too fast, overshare, dominate any conversations, laugh too loudly, show any of the impatience that I internally felt, allow others to finish their points and views…..was I good ‘normal’ person…had I got away with it for another day. Getting home was fantastic because I could breathe and just be myself.

    Human beings are hard wired to communicate, and this is a complex area for us with adhd. I do know that conversation isn’t about telling or showing knowledge, it is a sort of mutual social exchange through which shared interests, humour, preferences and so on are explored and sometimes enjoyed.

    Knowing this doesn’t make it easy. I became so exhausted with self modifying myself that my life came to a halt, and I had to’ get off the train’.

    I think that making genuinely meaningful connections with others is a mountain, and something I’m trying to work on too. In between drinking coffee, enjoying watching the birds in my garden, day dreaming, planning to finish painting the bathroom…..





    Post count: 3

    My Gawd… reading y’all’s post was like peering into my own soul. For the longest time, people just wouldn’t understand me- I felt like a chameleon , realllly good at blending in, but really playing a role. I’d get so proficient at playing a role, It was like I adopted whatever I was playing. It was me, but not really me. When I went home- and I can be myself, my true self comes out- and it is NOTHING like what I portray to the world. I’ve learn to keep my true self hidden, mainly because I don’t quite know who I am. And hearing someone talk about me is bone shatteringly scary- because it will haunt me for years, and years… dissecting everything they said. S
    I find in me a genius – just wanting to escape – but he is stuck in a maze, and rarely gets to see the light of day. Like the posters brother, I too have many hobbies, skills and talents that are far superior than your average layman- but my frustration comes from the fact that I can never focus on it enough to become GREAT. And Great is what I ALWAYS want to be. I want to be a GREAT pianist – but I can only be good… because no matter how much I try , and put my effort into it- I always end up playing whatever I want, playing whatever I feel like… and before long I’ve built a habit, and I’m stuck. Then that focus goes away from that particular skill, and moves onto the next thing I love- like art. Than I’d spend hours, and days – obsessing over how to draw the human form, memorizing things I’ll barely remember. Now I just consider it seasons… I only get enough focus per season, per skill… and it comes in a rotation, that is not really predictable- but when it comes, i’m on it-and I learn what I can , when I can, and luckily I’ve made improvements. Its like giving my brain some time to rest for a few months really help. Most of the time though I find myself doing absolutely nothing. I just want to play games, and watch youtube videos- learn some new thing, and have all these creative ideas, and desires- only to be completely bored of it, or doubtful the next. I get these STRONG feelings of excitement, a new business idea, new game idea, new clever contraptions , etc etc etc… endless ideas, good and bad . Its so effing exhausting. I just want it to stop sometimes… I wish I can just pick one, just one. And just ROLL with that one, until I master it. But nope… its like bird feed, a little here, a gulp there- a massive cake here. Its so extreme, and intense – either for the good or for the bad. When its good, holy smokes, Its good- I’m on it, I’m a genius, I’m the best there is! When its not… I’m suuuuuuch a loser, such a dumbass, rooms is in chaos with trash, and clothes everywhere. Sigh… just sigh. Sigh everyday. Most of all,people just don’t understand what I’m feeling. I know the difference between laziness, and something holding you down and wrestling you to the ground. I’m so tired guys… so tired.

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