Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

If I’m So Smart Why Am I So Dumb?



photo courtesy of Gary Higbee

People may have told you that you were smart. But you may not feel smart. Why? Because you graduated from college with a 2.65 grade point average after changing your major 5 times. Why? Because you never finish any of the projects you start. Why? Because you can’t decide what color to paint the bedroom and it’s been three years. Why? Because you still daydream all the time and forget to tie your shoes. Why? Because you haven’t won the Nobel Prize. In fact, you haven’t won anything except the spelling bee in third grade. Why? Because you still cry when you gaze at the stars. Why? Because you know how much you don’t know.

Let me explain. It’s complicated.

1. If you have multiple interests and abilities (multipotentiality), you may want to study many topics and not want to narrow yourself down to one field. One day you’re fascinated by marine biology and the next by philosophy. How do you choose?

2. Perhaps, college was the first time you were challenged academically. You didn’t know how to study and you couldn’t stop yourself from procrastinating, so your grades suffered.

3. You love learning new things and once you learn what you need, it’s time to move on. This may mean that certain projects don’t look complete even though they are complete for you.

4. You have very high standards for your work. If you’re feeling pressure to be perfect, you abandon a project because you feel paralyzed.

5. You’re very sensitive to color so it really matters what colors you live with. Decisions, in general, are hard because you can think of way too many possibilities.

6. Daydreaming still gets a bad rap and you believed what your teachers told you about it. Some of my best friends are daydreamers. And who has time to tie their shoes?

7. Winning has never been your objective.

8. Crying gets a bad rap, especially if you’re a male. But you see the incredible beauty in the sky and are amazed.

People may have told you that you were smart. You may not feel so smart. That’s OK. Nobody said living with a rainforest mind was going to be easy.


Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

132 thoughts on “If I’m So Smart Why Am I So Dumb?

  1. Pingback: Si soy inteligente, ¿Por qué me siento tan torpe? | Aa.Cc., LA REBELIÓN DEL TALENTO

  2. This describes me to a T. I’m 26 and still can’t figure out what to do with my life, because everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) interests me. One day I’m full-blown dedicated to becoming a singer/performer, the next I want to be a marine. Still the next I’m all like “maybe I should just settle down and start a family,” until I see the stars and want to write a book about space-faring. I’m putting my foot down and I’m going to force myself to go back to school for animation, because that combines quite a few of my talents…but I’m still sad, thinking about everything else I’m completely capable of.

    When I ask for advice from my intelligent parents…the only advice I get is “why can’t you just choose one?” When I ask friends, I get the same thing. If I tell someone I know that I’m gifted, they usually laugh in my face (because I’m known for being clumsy, disorganized, and easily distracted), or tell me that I’m arrogant for saying/thinking so.

    When I turn to myself, I feel so incredibly guilty for being concerned with something so stupid as my issues…because there are kids dying in Aleppo from war and starvation, and here I am in America worrying about my first-world problems. It’s like “I don’t have a right to be upset! There is so many more important things to worry about than my career choice!”

    So here I am, professional donut-froster at a gas station in Wisconsin. My 69 year-old co-worker, Fred, told me that “you’re going to be a lifer.” And I died a little inside when I heard that, because it’s probably true if I don’t get my s*** together.

    But I’m really encouraged to read this, because somebody GETS IT. It’s like a validation, like a confirmation that no…I’m not arrogant, I’m not stupid, I’m not a failure, I’m just different. I’m gifted, and it’s not always a gift.

    Thank you for posting this. I’m buying your book, I’m craving guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Carrie! I’m so happy you’ve found my blog!! Keep reading. You’ll see yourself all over the place. Look for the posts on multipotentiality. They will describe you. As will the rest of them. I’m glad you’re getting my book. You can use it to help others understand you, too. Thank you for letting me know how my blog has helped you. It warms my heart!


    • Carrie,

      Everyone starts somewhere. TBH you sound a bit like my me and my ex. Same age as us and capable of anything but a bit afraid to take a leap of faith. The only difference between my ex and I, is that I took that leap of faith. I chose a career and just went for it by going to college and networking, now I am doing significantly better than my peers (financially speaking). He, however, changed his mind day to day of what to go to school for and is currently (as he has been for last 3 years) without a job or working in restaurants or warehouses. He is trapped but he is the one doing it to himself. The route I chose was because I never wanted to stop learning. When you graduate college the learning DOES NOT stop there. Because that is who YOU are. I interview attorneys and judges and individuals who have attained phd and masters of business because I have that fear of not knowing what to do because I want to do everything(Also, because I do not want to go into my next level of school without having some concrete information and advice). The single thing they all have confided in me, is to choose a career based upon what you want most (for me – continuous education and to be more than financially stable). The key here is that I am not saying choose a career in what you are most interested in or what you are passionate about.

      What I am trying to say, is that you obviously have a beautiful mind. Allow yourself to explore it. Choose a career that will help you fulfill your needs. Then fulfill your other needs by developing them as hobbies. Don’t feel trapped by college or your career into that defining who you are. You are currently a gas station clerk, that is not who you are. You are an intellectual. Currently I am a paralegal and run a business but that does not define me. When I am not at work I meditate, practice yoga, study philosophy, physics, astrology, greek mythology, psychology, I run a donation program, and volunteer teaching an ESL child how to read. 4 years ago I was homeless, pushing myself to attend classes, struggling to eat or get a proper nights rest. That is where I took my leap of faith, where I had to remind myself, it will be okay, take the next step.

      I wanted to speak out to you because your mind should not be in a gas station I believe in you. Create your world by taking your next step. A very good friend once told me…Thinking is like a rocking chair, you go back and forth and back and forth, you will continue to do so until you jump off of that rocking chair.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sort of like me. I’m basically failing at my A-level subjects but right now I’m really only interested in concerto’s, Russian, the concept of death (say if you kill a mouse which is in your attic – how it isn’t murder if there was intent) and the effects of rationing before and after WW2. I am taking science subjects!

    I feel challenged in some subjects (I took them for this reason) and I’m okay with that. I’m not gifted but this is sort of me. I am overly sensitive (don’t wash up loudly if you’re near me) but sometimes I am completely apathetic in situations. I am just a random individual.

    I like what you’re doing. Keep at it. I should get back to revision now. I’m bored already… 😦 😦 😦 I really hate cells and whatever else there is I have to “learn”. 😦 😦 :(…

    Liked by 1 person

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