What Lies Beneath Truly Being “Smart”

We grow up in a society where being smart is important. We can’t deny it, ignore it, or mask this fact. It’s merely an attribute that society values. Often the way we measure “smartness” is wrong. We all face bad grades, but a grade, percentage, or letter doesn’t define us. 


One could be tired, stressed, or overwhelmed; regardless of the circumstance, failing at something is not a reflection of one’s capabilities and potential.


In bitter moments when one does not achieve what they hoped for, the saying, “I’m so stupid,” is pervasive. One compares themselves to a classmate with the excuse “they’re so smart,” but intelligence is a puzzle with many pieces. Once we lift away the many layers that make up being “smart”  and become familiar with them, we can more easily see the value in ourselves and each other.


Being smart is knowing how to respond to and not just react to a situation. Emotional intelligence is vital as it is the capacity to be “aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” (www.oxford.com). It is essential to personal and professional success. An intelligent person has a great deal of self-awareness, motivation, and empathy. 


Self-awareness is crucial because if one has it, one can monitor and manage one’s emotions. If a person knows their triggers, they’re more self-aware of how they’ll react to a given event.


Motivation is an essential factor in being smart because it gives one the ability to take initiative and persevere in the face of adversity. 


Empathy might be the most essential quality in life, and it makes an individual “smart”  because it shows they care. Understanding someone else’s circumstances gives one the power to see why a person acts the way they do. Empathy has the potential to ultimately change and shape one’s perspective and opinion. It shows a person the missed gaps they didn’t see before “walking in another person’s shoes.” 


In other words, being smart is how one presents oneself and reacts. For example, a good grade is obtained through studying– the action of studying is “smart.” The test grade is a reflection of one’s self-awareness, motivation, and dedication to applying that knowledge. One must fully put oneself in the “shoes” of who or what is being studied, and commit to learning the strategies and making sense of relevant information to apply it.


This mirrors the same attributes that we use in everyday experiences, interactions, and habits that make us smart. They all take consistency, effort, dedication, and practice. Though we don’t typically associate daily habits as a reflection of smartness, they in fact are. For example, the ability to get a good test score takes smarts just like making a new friend does. They both take the same basic principles of self-awareness, motivation, and empathy. All that differs is how they are expressed, translated, and viewed by society. 

Copyright Sophia Papadopoulo 2019

Sophia Papadopoulo

Sophia Papadopoulo '22 has been at Oracle since her freshman year at Blair Academy and is a writer and editor. She works and manages different aspects of the Oracle and focuses on lifestyle articles centered around her interests and the Blair community. She is from Bermuda and is very happy to be returning for 2020-2021.