The Problem with ‘Clever’ Children

Being ‘clever’ is a bit of a trap.

I was very young when I started to get labelled as one of the ‘clever’ children. All throughout primary school and into the first few years of secondary school I was an overachiever. It was the only aspect of my personality that I had, I was very quiet and socially awkward, I didn’t make friends easily and I preferred to be on my own.

I wasn’t pretty or friendly or funny- I was just clever. I had no other aspects to my personality.

I was about thirteen or fourteen when I stopped being ‘clever’.

I could roughly keep up with the other children in the class, but I was by no means at the top. I melted away and became ordinary.

All ‘clever’ children reach a point where they’re not at the top of the class anymore. That can come at a young age, or it can come when they reach university… but it does come eventually.

We can increase our intelligence by studying and putting in effort, naturally ‘clever’ children will all eventually hit a wall where they find themselves having to put in more and more effort to maintain the grades that once came easily.

I hit this in my early teens, it was a big shock to the system and I really didn’t know what to do. I was very depressed at the time and this blow to my identity only made things much worse.

I felt really worthless for a long, long time. I didn’t know who I was anymore, I felt like I had no personality and that I wasn’t good at anything.

It took me a while to stop feeling like this, I branched out and found some other hobbies; I got counselling and started to become the person that I wanted to be. Drama helped me a lot to find confidence and learn social skills.

I’m quite that I hit the wall before I took my A-levels, that way I knew that I had to put in some serious effort to the get the grades that I wanted, and I knew how to do that.

I have friends who are only just hitting that wall now that they’ve gone to university… and that must be pretty crap for them.

Intelligence needs work, natural abilities and upbringing can only go so far- I feel really sorry for children who grow up being labelled just as ‘clever’; their intelligence is A) not something that should be used to define them and B) not something to take for granted.

’til next time,

Wren x

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4 thoughts on “The Problem with ‘Clever’ Children

  1. I really love what you discuss in this post, it really resonates with me as I’m also considered a “clever” child – I’ve definitely hit that wall, but since my grades are still relatively high nobody notices but myself and it’s had a huge impact on my confidence and mental health to some extent too. Wonderful post!

    • Thank you, I think it’s a problem that not many people recognise. Like you said, if you can still maintain what look to everyone else to be ‘good’ grades, then no-one will even notice, it’s only us who realise how much of a struggle it becomes. Thanks for your comment! x

  2. I used to be on of those ‘smart’ kids too, but then when depression hit in my mid- teens I just couldn’t function anymore and my grades went south. Very far south.

    I learned no not to take my quick mind for granted but well… What shall I say… I eventually got better and have gone on to become an engineer and full time researcher. I still love seeing my mind at work because ultimately for me that is who I am.

    • That sounds very similar to what I experienced, I was lucky enough to pull my grades up quickly but it was a close thing. I’m glad that you’re doing well now, I’ve also started to re-gain my love of education in the last couple of years. Thanks for commenting!

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