I'm smart. I'm not trying to brag, or give myself a big head. It's just a fact.
All my life, I've been told that I'm smart. That I could be anything that I wanted to be, do anything that I wanted to do. I had a vast amount of opportunities available to me because I'm smart. The thing is... I may be smart, but I'm not intelligent. To some people, these may be synonyms, but to me, there is a huge difference. I'm not a child prodigy. I'm not a genius. I'm just smarter than most people my own age, which is why I was put up a grade when I was younger. I'm not a mathematical whiz, or a walking encyclopedia. I have advanced reading and writing skills, and learning comes a bit easier to me than the average person.
Throughout my years in high school, I was content to get by on this quality of mine. If I didn't understand something, I would just go home and tackle that chapter in my textbook. It wasn't because I was too proud to ask for help; it was because a lot of the time, I never got a serious answer. Any time I even suggested that I may be wrong or that I wasn't sure, other students in my class would scoff and say 'what do you mean you don't know, you skipped a grade!' It was like I couldn't be a normal student with normal problems. When I met new people, mutual friends would introduce me as 'Joanna, the girl who skipped a grade.' I hated it.
The reason I'm smart, and not intelligent, is because I lack ambition. That's right, I said it. I'm not ambitious, at all. I am not a go-getter, or a fireball. I know that I want to be happy, mildly well-off, and in a challenging, yet stable job. The thing is... I don't know how to get there. I'm a week in to my fourth year at university, and I still have no idea what I want to do. I don't even have a direction to point myself in. I'm not the smartest person in my school, now. Not even in my class. All this pressure to do better than everyone else is gone, and I thought it would be liberating. Instead, I just have this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Everyone keeps telling me I'm smart. My family, employers, and friends are quick to tell me that I'm a smart, young woman and that I'll be fine because whatever I do, I'll be good at it. No one seems interested in actually helping me figure out what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. They just tell me that I'm capable, and that they will support my decision. No one wants to take me seriously when I tell them how freaked out I am. How lost I feel.
I'm afraid that I won't find something that I love to do. I'm afraid to disappoint my family. I'm frustrated that the only topics that seem to interest me are ones that are outside my program/specialization. I'm doubly frustrated because I know that if I were to pursue a degree in those topics, I will end up no where. I'm angry that others have set such a high bar for me. I'm angry at myself because I'm falling so short that I'm not even off the ground. I'm worried that I will have paid thousands of dollars for nothing. I'm actually frightened at the amount of debt I will be in once I finish school.
I know there are hundreds of people who feel the same way, but I feel like they don't feel it to the same degree that I do. I feel like my past experiences make the stress seem 1000x worse. I know that's very conceited of me to think that my worries are worse than any one else, but I'm the only one who feels my feelings (if that makes any sense), and that is just how I see it.
It's easier to just put on an 'I'll deal with it when the time comes' attitude than to admit to the people around me how weak and out of control I feel.