Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Intelligence Inadequacy” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Intelligence Inadequacy,” a sophomore in college who felt like an idiot around her boyfriend and new friends whom she felt were much more knowledgeable in topics like the “theories of reality or the origins of civilizations in ancient South America.” Keep reading to see if she still feels inadequate around these people (and if she’s still hanging out with them).

Thank you very much for the response and advice! And thank you commenters for the great encouragement, feedback and general entertainment. It’s only been (about) a semester since I wrote in, and a lot, and a little, has changed. I’m feeling better about myself and my struggles with feeling/sounding intelligent. I’ve come to accept that I may never be able to wrap my head around certain philosophies or theories, but I’m intelligent and knowledgeable in other ways. And, sometimes, my lack of understanding is something I play on to make people, and myself, laugh, which I find I really enjoy. Also, for clarification to some commenters, I was in no way suggesting that these friends were being condescending and that I hated them or something. In fact, I wanted to be like them! Another thing, I’ve decided to hang less with these people who talked a lot about those subjects. They were mostly my boyfriend’s friends, and although I don’t avoid them, I don’t seek them out either. I’m still working on making my own friends, but I’m comfortable and open and just trying not to focus on it 24/7 like I used to. I’m also trying to become more aware of current events, random news stories, developments, etc., and actually…it’s super interesting. I’m glad that this was suggested, because I feel like I can contribute a whole lot more with, you know, actually realizing what’s going on in the world.

As far as my boyfriend, I never brought up my insecurities to him directly. I sort of danced around the question of if he’d rather date someone in his field, but I thought it was silly, like you pointed out, Wendy. He’d totally be whispering ancient Mayan lingo in another girl’s ear from his lab five months ago, if that was the case. Funny thing, I met a girl in his same major (she’s graduated) and asked her if she would date a guy in her field. She said, “I’ve never dated another anthropologist. My fiance is a chef! Anthros tend to like things different from themselves. I don’t think I would be happy with another anthro.” I was surprised! Not that this is significant for everybody, but it was encouraging to hear this.

Also, I don’t know exactly what triggered some confidence in me, but my boyfriend and I were on some topic of the government considering tomato sauce a vegetable in school systems, and that led me to actually giving my two cents without being self-conscious and wondering if what I said was sounding “intelligent” enough. This led to longer debates, and I think that was the first time I spoke my mind in a while without shying away. And although I’m not sure if what I said was 100% correct, I felt really good about saying something. Not to say I don’t still have my bashful/unsure moments, but I’m working on it.

This seems pretty long. I’ll end here. But thank you all! I really appreciate you actually answering my cry for help. I can’t say everything is super peachy keen, and I have yet to find that group of friends that I click with, but who knows. I’ll keep working on it and myself. Please wish me luck. I hope you all get your letters answered too!

 
Thanks for the update! I’m glad we could help you find some confidence.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

17 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Kristen January 30, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Have confidence in yourself! If you have an opinion about vegetables in schools, speak up without feeling like you might be saying something factually incorrect. Unless your boyfriend is a major jerk, he’s not going to interrupt you to say, “Actually… in 1995, the FDA…” I’m sure he was thrilled to have that discussion with you, so keep it up! Being happy with yourself is an attraction to others, whether it be in strengthening your relationship with your boyfriend, or in making new friends. You can do it!

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  • avatar

    Mel January 30, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Tomato sauce? Doesn’t that have like a lot of sugar?

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny January 30, 2012, 12:38 pm

      But it counts as a vegetable when it’s on pizza for school lunch purposes. Because we have to make sure the kids eat healthier. And we do that by making them eat their vegetables.

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      • avatar

        Mel January 30, 2012, 2:47 pm

        And by vegetables you mean pizza. Of course.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 30, 2012, 12:47 pm

    The pizza = vegetable thing simply blows my mind.

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    • Budj

      Budj January 30, 2012, 12:50 pm

      Not to mention any “vegetable” in that sauce is probably like .15 a serving…good job feds.

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      • avatar

        LennyBee January 30, 2012, 1:46 pm

        So if you eat a large pizza, you can probably get a whole serving of vegetables… sounds good to me!*

        *\sarcasm

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    • avatar

      britannia January 30, 2012, 3:05 pm

      It’s classic Americanism… We don’t like the truth (in this case, the cold hard facts of nutrition) so we change the truth so that we no longer look like asses!

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      • theattack

        theattack January 30, 2012, 4:22 pm

        And then end up looking like asses by trying to change the truth!

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      • Brad

        Brad January 31, 2012, 11:36 am

        So you’re telling me that pizza ISN’T healthty?!? But … I .. it’s .. fuck me.

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  • avatar

    anonymous January 30, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Great update! It sounds like you’re really growing! BTW, if all his friends are anthropologists, they (my guess) would be interested in differing viewpoints…so don’t be shy about speaking up!

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  • avatar

    convexed January 30, 2012, 1:25 pm

    This is a really nice and thoughtful update. Just wanted to point out that it is so apparent you are intelligent, curious, and engaging from your articulate reflection, right here. I promise that this ability to consider yourself in relation to ideas and to other people marks the very qualities you admire in your bf and his friends, just a difference in that they are fluent in some subjects new to you, or not in your area of expertise. In my opinion, it is a joy to talk to someone as thoughtful and clear as you, so take confidence and don’t be afraid to go out on a limb in a discussion. That is how great conversations happen.

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  • avatar

    MsBorgia January 30, 2012, 1:54 pm

    I’m glad this LW wrote back— I have the same problem with my boyfriend because he naturally just talks a lot more than I do, and he is very smart and well-informed about EVERYthing, so I end up feeling dominated in the conversation. I found out though that if I just speak up and not worry about it, things go better, even if sometimes that means saying “Be quiet for a minute so I can tell you what I think!” 🙂

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  • avatar

    Oddy January 30, 2012, 3:47 pm

    It’s nice to know the American Government payed attention in their high school biology classes, as they would then know that tomatoes are not a vegetable, but a fruit. A fruit is scientifically defined as “A mature ovary of a flower,” which is what a tomato is, it grows from the flower of the tomato plant.

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    • AnotherElle

      Laura January 30, 2012, 5:17 pm

      That was my thought, too. Though not as thorough as the mature ovary thing 😉

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      • avatar

        convexed January 30, 2012, 7:36 pm

        Maybe they feel like its a slippery slope from admitting we eat ovaries to promoting reckless wild and ungodly sexual activity and awareness in the junior high. Same reason we play down the fact that condoms usually work? It gives too much license! Or…
        those government agencies are made up of old folks, who didn’t really ‘get’ the botanical distinctions between vegetable and fruit? Its not their fault, they didn’t grow up with the great educational advantage of the no child left behind years…

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  • avatar

    Erin May 22, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Seriously? ANTHROPOLOGY majors are trying to sound smart? Philosophy, Anthropology, Psychology… they’re all majors for people who can’t do Math. Major in accounting or engineering and see how great you feel when you’re pulling in $70,000 a year, and the Anthropology majors are all fighting for three museum curator’s assistant positions that will net them $20,000 if they’re the lucky .001% who get jobs in their field. I’m sure they’ll feel really big about themselves when they can discuss ancient Mayan civilizations while working as a social worker or office clerk for barely above minimum wage.

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