I sometimes wish I was "Big Bang Theory" smart.
Most of the time I'm happy enough the way I am.
But I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
When I was very young, I was constantly praised by my parents for being clever.
To the point where I was convinced I was practically a genius and would someday be someone very important.
After all, I did learn to read when I was three.
(I've since realised that I was being compared to my older sibling.)
Looking back on this now, I know that I learnt to read, not by picking up a book and having the squiggles called letters suddenly form themselves into words that I could understand, but by listening in and watching the words, as my mum spent hours and hours every single week helping my older sister learn to read. My sister is three and a half years older than me, and was born retarded. Use whatever politically correct term you wish, the meaning is the same.
I'm told that one day, after my sister once more broke into tears because she could not read the first page of Dick and Dora, I picked up the book and read the whole first chapter to show her how easy it was.
From then on I read everything I could get my hands on.
Starting school was a disappointment since we had to learn to read Dick and Dora and I already knew them.
So, I was convinced I was clever. And for a while, school reaffirmed this for me. Primary school work was easy for me, I coasted through it.
High school was a shock. I had to learn to pay attention, something I'd barely bothered with before. Homework was expected to be handed in. On time!
My dad didn't agree with homework, as far as he was concerned, the teacher taught us in school, if she couldn't get through the lessons, we shouldn't have to finish them at home in our own time.
He didn't realise and wouldn't be told the true purpose of homework. He said I didn't need to do it. So sometimes I didn't, especially if it was French homework. I hated French! More correctly, I hated the French teacher. Naturally, I failed French, so got bumped down to the B grade class in the second term. Where I discovered I still had to learn French, but I'd lost my favourite Latin.
I knew already that I was only going to school until I was old enough to leave, so didn't bother trying too hard. But even without trying too hard, I was good at several subjects. English, History, Science, Math.; consistently scoring in the 75-80% range. In Math I was even top of the class a couple of times, in the end of term exams. This reinforced my "I'm smart" belief.
But, once I'd left school, at 15, I was expected to get a job. (I was also expected to get married and raise babies. Because that's what girls do. According to my dad.*)
Working was a whole different experience! I was in an environment with people who had gone further in school, and who had worked for some time. I felt like a fish out of water. I'd lost my comfort zone. Senior workers were asked to train me in whatever position I was learning and because they'd done this work "forever", they knew the job inside out and showed me what to do without really explaining how and why things were done. I felt stupid when I didn't pick things up immediately, and even more stupid when I made mistakes and they'd sigh heavily and show me again.
Once I'd learnt something, I was okay with it, so if I was in any job for long enough I became quite skilled, and felt comfortable doing my work.
Fast forward to my present job. I've been a checkout chook for 8 years now. The first year was hard. I'm not really a people person, and wasn't comfortable having to make conversation with customers. (Possibly my hearing loss may have something to do with this.)
Add to that my scanning and packing skills hadn't yet developed enough for me to be comfortable, I was forever anxious that I'd make a mistake and the boss would come breathing down my neck.
Several months into it, I realised things had changed. I knew what I was doing. If I made a mistake, I knew how to fix it, without calling for help. I began to relax into the job and it became fun for me. I even discovered that I could talk to the customers without breaking into a clammy sweat.
Fast forward again to my current predicament. I'm unable to do the checkout work, so I'm being employed as a "floater".
Filling in and helping out. In different departments. Where I don't know the work well enough.
I'm being shown what to do, by people who are in a hurry to get back to what they are doing, so it's a case of do this, this, then this, and off they go, leaving me to try and figure out what the heck they meant. A lot is easily worked out, but sometimes I have to go looking for this person. Asking what have I done wrong? Why is this machine not working?
Feeling stupid because I haven't understood. I know it's wrong to feel this way, but there it is. I do feel it, then I'm pissed off at myself.
Yesterday, for instance, something was explained to me and another girl, fairly quickly. She understood immediately and the two of them carried on while I pretended to understand and learned by copying what they were doing. I didn't want to ask even more questions and appear stupid.
This morning, I remembered what I did yesterday and the work went without a hitch.
But tomorrow if they throw me another learning curve, I'll feel the fog closing in on my brain again.
I'm left wondering, am I stupid? Or have I just not learnt how to learn? I avoid new things because I'm afraid of appearing stupid.
New information seems to just breeze on through without sticking. Unless I go over it and over it. Once I've learned it, I tell myself how clever I am. But am I really?
I see people around me who are able to assimilate knowledge of a large range of things, more than one at a time and much faster than me. I'm envious of this ability.
So I go home and read. I lose myself in fiction novels, because sometimes the real world just seems too hard.
I watch TV. I watch The Big Bang Theory, because I "get" that the jokes are funny even though I don't always know why, so I laugh in the right places, then I feel clever.
* I was raised by my dad, because my mum left home when I was seven.
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