Some Things Are Difficult, Even If You're Smart

March 6, 2010
Estimated reading time:
2 minutes

I read a really interesting thread on Reddit today about people who are considered very smart and yet don't seem to accomplish much.

It was intriguing, not least because I found myself agreeing so much with several posters. I cruised through my GCSEs and A-levels, getting top marks and being adored by teachers. I say this not to brag, but because it's the truth. But when I came to university (originally to study law) I found it very difficult. I shrugged it off and said that the course was dull, which is true to some extent.

But when I talked about it with my personal tutor and told him I wanted to drop law, he mentioned that maybe I was just struggling with the fact that university was that much harder than sixth form, which is true, to some extent.

I dropped law regardless, and switched to economics, because I thought I was good at it. And, for the first year of the course, I was, as it covered much of the same ground that I had covered at A-levels. But this year, since September, the course has been very difficult for me. I did a statistics module last semester and it was one of the most difficult things I've ever tried to learn.

So I stopped going. Didn't bother with lectures, didn't do the problem sets or the reading, barely revised for the final exam. I scraped a pass in the end, but I know that had I put a lot of effort in I might have done OK. I probably wouldn't have aced it, but I'd have done OK.

The problem is that I'm so used to getting everything very quickly, instantly understanding the concepts and breezing through the work. I literally don't know how to learn something the hard way. The fear of failure is crippling to me, and the idea of working so hard to earn an average grade doesn't match my self-image of being a really smart guy, so I just ignored the subject completely.

I need to stop being such a prima donna and start working hard. Nothing comes for free, even if you're as smart as me.

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