Free Advice is a periodic feature in which I answer anonymous letters sent to markbialczak.com. Today’s reader asks for my opinion about the relationship between academic degrees and everyday intelligence. At least that’s how I interpret it.
I went to a very good college and have a high IQ, according to standardized tests. Nevertheless, when I make a mistake, I still tell myself “You’re an idiot!”
What should I do?
Anxious in America
Thanks for writing. And I’d like to start off by saying that was an extremely smart move, taking a step to remedy a situation that has apparently been a thorn in your side for some time. I get that from your carefully chosen use of the word “still” when you describe how your go-to mechanism is to beat yourself up when you make a mistake with some internal name-calling.
Repeat after me. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot.
You are a human being.
I, too, went to a fairly good college. In fact, in just the last year, the Universty of Maryland at College Park became an even better college, moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten, a far more prestigious collection of institutes of higher learning, I believe. I now can tell people I graduated from a Big Ten university. How about that!
And if I recall correctly, my IQ was said to have demolished the three-digit barrier when my friend’s older sister talked my parents into using me as a guineau pig, er, subject, for her university project, when I was in junior high school. Everybody had to agree to not tell me the exact number. Idiots! But enough about me.
No more name calling, OK? It’s not needed, it’s not necessary, and it is not accurate.
Everybody makes mistakes, all the time. This simply does not have anything to do with how smart you are. Why just yesterday, I … No, I don’t want to share that one. Last week, I … Nah. There was that time last year when … Just kidding. Humor is important in dealing with life, always. Since I was laid off from my newroom job two years ago, I fear that perhaps I have not always made the proper choices while charting the path that has taken me to where I am today. But I’m happy nevertheless. Everybody makes mistakes, all the time, and there’s simply no need to beat one’s self up about it.
Now about that anxiety in your salutation. Relax! Let it go! You attended a good college, have a high IQ, live a life equipped with the wherewithall to read my blog and send me an email question, and your grammar and spelling were both flawless. So not only are the standarized tests a good indication of your intelligence, but so is your letter to me. Take a deep breath. Put life into perspective. You have so much going for you. Pay no attention to the man behind the green curtain … Or the little voice screaming at you from inside your head.
Have a good day.
My qualifications: 57 years of open eyes and ears but no stalking charges. One dear wife Karen, one terrific daughter Elisabeth and her wonderful boyfriend George, one sensational stepson Daryl, one pet Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle and various other family members of scattered location and adjectives. Four decades of writing in public about people, places and things.
Satisfaction is the goal, but is by no means guaranteed.