I talked to the rugged brick wall.
Or so it felt when I argued with my girlfriend at the time. Everything I said caused a blank stare and misunderstanding. I began simplifying my arguments. To make her understand.
Which made her feel patronized.
I ran into many brick walls in daily life. They differed slightly. Some were like the Google Assistant — whenever you said something, they’d reply with something irrelevant. Like last game’s results.
Others failed to comprehend the sentence you uttered. Did it have too many syllables? And others became enraged when you occasionally questioned their statements, made an argument or didn’t do things their way.
I could not understand why brick walls had become a majority. Why was I having so hard to communicate with everyone? I had worked as a phone salesman, talking to people from 9 to 5. Yet, every conversation I now had felt stale and frustrating. I had worked as a sales copywriter, dumbing things down for a living. Yet I got constantly shocked:
Things had to be dumbed down even more.
For long I suspected it was because I was a blockhead. Unable to communicate at a basic level and understand how other people’s minds operated.
For very long. And the frustrated self-doubt got to me.
But then it happened.
And it liberated my mind forever.
I performed an IQ test.
I had always scoffed at IQ before. As a kid, I was always the top performer in class. Always represented my school in competitions, not because I wanted to, but because I couldn’t help not scoring highest on all tests.
I dropped out of high-school but eventually got enrolled in a computer science program at university anyway, without a diploma.
But I’d always attributed my performance to hard work, interest and a divine spark, not IQ or high intelligence.
Turned out, I could no longer boast about my own work discipline.
My IQ was over two standard deviations above the average, in the 99.2 percentile.
Which isn’t extremely high. Some people reading this have much higher than that.
But the fact still remained: It was higher than 99.2% of the population.
- You know, African Americans in USA comprise 12.7% of the population. They are a minority.
- Asians comprise 4.8% of the population. They are a minority.
- I am part of the top 0.8% population in terms of IQ. I am a microscopic minority.
And when I learned of this, I did not feel a sense of superiority.
I felt like I had been freed from 10 years of exile in a Siberian Gulag camp. Finally… I got some understanding. A lead on why I always felt out of place, as an outside observer looking at the rest of the world going by.
Why did I not find joy in the same things as everyone else? Why did I become bored with every new job within two months and have to move on? Why did I feel an emptiness, lack of stimulation which I had to numb with drugs, alcohol and intense weightlifting?
The questions had almost driven me crazy before… was I insane? Why did no one else “get it”?
But the simple reason I always felt out of touch and different… was because I was.
And this isn’t to create a club of narcissistic Mensa copycats. It’s just that when you’re highly intelligent, you could just as well be an alien when interacting with most other people.
But before I get into why a high IQ turns you into a spaceman, you need to understand something:
IQ is only a proxy measure for intelligence.
It indicates how intelligent you are. (Even for that purpose, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel.)
But high intelligence doesn’t mean more money, happiness or success. So there’s not much to feel pride or joy in. Unless your deepest desire is to grow a hobo beard, live on the shit-covered streets of LA and think “Ha! Jokes on you all, I’m more intelligent!”
Is A High IQ BAD?
Mainstream media has talked about it for years. Having a high IQ may be bad for you. Apparently, it’s a cause for mental illness and allergies.
This notion was originally conceived by a psychological paper surveying 3,715 US Mensa members.
Psychology can hardly be considered a science today. In 2008, less than 50% of prominent psychology studies could be replicated. That is, when performing the studies a second time, scientists could NOT arrive at similar results as the first.
But let’s not dismiss the argument because the source is untrustworthy. Let’s examine how the psychologists concluded that having a high IQ is negative:
The Mensans participating in the study were asked if they were diagnosed with various diseases (anything from depression to asthma). The Mensa members were also asked if they believed they might suffer from any condition.
What were the results?
The Mensans reported themselves to be iller than the national average.
The psychologists who performed the study interpret much from these results.
Believe it or not, they put forward the hyper-brain/hyper-body theory arguing that high IQ people are overexcitable by the world and their thoughts, which causes a chronic stress response, mood disorders and physiological diseases.
But let’s stop for a minute:
The study only shines a light upon 3,715 Mensans — 7% of all US Mensans, and 0.06% of Americans with Mensa-level IQ. Very few gifted people choose to join Mensa, and those who do are likely different in other ways than intelligence.
Their data simply doesn’t represent high-IQ people.
Self-Reporting VS. Strict Interviews
The Mensans only had to self-report if they had been diagnosed by a medical professional. And if they suspected an illness themselves.
The national average they got compared to, on the other hand, was stricter. Competent interviewers asked participants questions about their mood, sleep, emotional life, and other problems. A diagnosis was only made if someone’s answers fulfilled rigorous criteria.
Because of that, there is little science proving that highly intelligent people are extraordinarily prone to mental illness and autoimmune disorders.
But so what?
The science may not be solid, so we have to rely on empirical observations, our instincts, and thoughts.
Here’s a logical interpretation on why high-IQ people might have tougher lives in some regards:
Let’s say you have an IQ of 130.
When you talk to a person with average intelligence, it would be like an average person talking to a mentally retarded human in terms of IQ difference.
The mentally retarded person thinks, acts and talks very different from the normal person. Which means they have difficulties enduring a conversation together. They live in different realities.
Same goes for a highly intelligent person and average people.
Different realities. Lightyears apart when communicating.
Having a mind which vastly differs from the rest of the population is a big deal. You face challenges in many ways. You fall asleep at the school bench, have to deal with bosses of lesser intellects, you have to live as a high IQ person in a low IQ world.
You are an outsider. This world was not made for you. And it’s tough. But instead of fawning over your intelligence, complaining about midwits, victimizing yourself, you may wonder something else. Something more productive:
How DO you live, or even thrive, with a high IQ?
I’m glad you asked, dear reader. You must be intelligent since you asked such a stellar question:
1. Get Your IQ Tested
Maybe you’ve read up to this point and recognized the symptoms of a high IQ, but haven’t gotten yours tested. For all you know, you might as well just be a moderately intelligent weirdo. Doomed to wander Earth in search of another misfit soul.
Pinpointing your IQ won’t solve that many problems in itself.
But it will help you to understand why you may feel different. Why you feel like the weave our societies are made of feels so empty, so pointless, so banal. And why you’d rather enjoy your evening with a book in your lap, than roaming a night club where you feel the bass in your bones.
2. Don’t Care About It
No matter what results you get, you better not invest too much care and emotion in it. Low or average IQ? So what! High IQ? So what!
Or well, you’re on your way to understanding yourself better. But the fact your IQ’s above average doesn’t turn you into Richard Feynman, and aggrandizing your intellect will only bear negative consequences upon yourself. IQ doesn’t measure the full extent of your intellect. You could be de facto less or more intelligent than your IQ indicates.
Think of it as a personality test.
It gives you some insight into how your brain works, what you may need and how you may react to things. It lets you know yourself better but loses gravity beyond a certain point of contemplation.
And don’t be like one of those women who write “ENTP” personality profile in their Twitter bio. The worst thing you could become is a midwit. Someone who is barely above average intelligence and overestimates and boasts of his big brain.
3. Ponder It
You have a high IQ. You’re more intelligent than most people. Spend some time retrospecting. Think about how that might have affected your past, your relationships, and life.
The common theme is that your brain will operate in another way to that of other people’s.
Psychologists have tried to develop theories about highly intelligent people and differentiating things like overexcitability. But as of now, it looks like junk science — which means we’ll have to resort to our own experiences and thinking if we want to understand how high intelligence affects our lives.
4. You’re Capable Of Most Things (And Not)
If you’ve got an IQ above 130, you have the mental capacity to master nearly any profession, given you have the ambition, stress tolerance and balls.
- You could become the US president.
- A chemical engineer.
- Computer scientist.
- Wall Street hotshot.
- Professor at an Ivy League university.
You will not be limited by a too low computational capacity.
However, you may be limited by a too high intelligence.
That is, your brain could perfectly handle the mental challenges of work and academia, but it considers them too easy.
You fall asleep by the thought of academia. You can’t grasp the imbecilic decisions your boss makes, and you’ve got even more difficulties explaining it to him. You struggle to build personal relations, and sometimes you don’t even want to. Which is, in the real world, an obstacle.
Unless you learn to deal with it.
5. Learn to deal with idiots
If you’re highly intelligent, most people you talk to will probably be less big-brained. That may frustrate you since you expect everyone to understand and see the same things as you.
But that’s just not the case, and you need to stop feeling entitled to anything else.
When you play with a dog, you don’t get sour because it doesn’t understand your sudden recitation of the first amendment. You can’t expect that from a dog. In the same way, you can’t expect a normal person to think, notice, understand things in an abnormal way.
If you still walk around in life with unrealistic expectations, it won’t be the idiots who are the problem. They rule the world. You are the complication. The arrogant nerd who suffers from not adapting.
6. Walk your own way
You have to deal with idiots in life. Which can be straining.
Either, you bite your lips, improve your interpersonal skills and deal with it.
Or you do what many high IQ people do:
Walk your own way. Become self-employed, an entrepreneur who does his own thing. To many of us, including me, that’s the only endurable way of life.
Sadly, many problems in life don’t have any solutions, concrete answers that will turn your life into a fairy tale. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but you have to accept it and adapt in any way possible.
But know this, my friend… sometimes, just being aware of a challenge will help you tremendously in dealing with it.
Which is why I recommend you to test your IQ.
That’s the only way to know if some challenges in your life may be partly caused by your abnormal mind.
Until next time,
— Alexander Contrarian