It’s a very interesting price that is paid being an intelligent, ambitious woman.
I received the most heat and hostility in my life for this when I was getting my Masters degree.
There were men who all of the sudden got verbally hostile with me once I revealed that I was getting my Masters degree.
There were also men for which I was interested in romantically and I can say that for one of my partners, I saw his face sink when I told him that I was getting my Masters, and he had an Associates degree.
I remember telling myself, “If you really want to date someone, you cannot tell them about your degrees. Tone it down some, forget to mention them, lower your accomplishments, because no man will be secure enough to be with a woman with a higher education.”
It hurts me very much now to know that I did practice this belittling of myself to a degree, to simply provide comfort to the men around me for whom I was interested in.
I remember in High school having crushes ask for tutoring in a with “sensual undertones” and I thought hey this is great! As a tutor I will get one on one time to get close to those whom I like. That really wasn’t the case however. Boys who teased how they would get “private tutor sessions” with me were just fronting.
Those boys would end up not showing up at all and if they did they were extremely lazy and entitled and expected me to do their homework for them. I have had people comment on how attractive both male and female some of my tutees have been.
Really, all I get is people running through. Basically I am a form of a teacher, and those relationships are required to be professional and platonic only because I am in a position of power.
Of course their have been tutees who tried to cross the line with me, and now that I am no longer tutoring, I can honestly say, which I will detail in another blog, that for the few times that ever happened it ended very badly.
Me being a naive 21 year old at the time, made a mistake, with an older tutee of mine, and I was advised not to ever tutor anyone outside of the school. I did and I paid for it. Again, I wasn’t assaulted, but I almost was, and even though he was clearly a predator, I am much more cautious because of that experience.
Now that I am older, it was obvious he was a predator. He never flirted with me during sessions, at least, that I noticed. I don’t really notice when someone flirts with me unless they hit me over the head and scream, “I like you or I want to have sex with you.” If someone isn’t direct I’ll have no idea.
The problem is, as a smart, nerdy girl, I am so used to men choosing the other girls, that in my head, I just assume, I am not wanted romantically.
I also try to reject people before they have a chance to reject me, because even though I may look good physically, I know that, once I open my mouth about my accomplishments and ambition, that they will quickly lose interest or become hostile to “cut me down” emotionally.
I don’t care to endure that, and for awhile there, I kind of just gave up on dating because I thought well, sure, there may be some rare men out there ok dating a woman with a graduate degree but quite frankly, I don’t want someone who is simply tolerant of my accomplishments and ambition.
I want to be with someone just as ambitious, just as accomplished, who wants to team up with me and become a dynamic duo. I want to help that person grow and I want that person to help me grow. I know that someone that special takes time to meet, but my impatience has been one of my biggest downfalls. If I could erase every individual I ever dated or ever let touch me I would because they were beneath me.
They were beneath me, not because of a lower education, but because they had an ego so fragile that they felt they had to cut me down, to feel secure, to be with me.
I made a promise to myself that I will do my best to never do this again. It was a disrespect to myself, a disrespect to my accomplishments and a disrespect to my parents investment into my education. It should not be hidden nor be something I am ashamed of.
I also remember that there was a white boy that I had a crush on in High school in my Spanish class. We were getting our Spanish tests back and I got a 103 and he got a 102. Since he got above perfect he thought he had beaten me. Welp, looks like I got even more perfect than his perfect bruh!
Spanish is my forte!
Anyhow, I tried to hide my test from him because I knew he would react badly. He insisted on seeing my test, I kept saying no.
He reached out and grabbed it from me and ripped it. He called me a “smartass.”
Back then I considered it an insult. Now I am proud to be that smartass.
I mean what’s crazy about this scenario was I tried to hide it from him in first place. He did not need to know I performed better than him, however he knew that I was hiding my results for a reason.
How do men, how do white people, how do these groups become so insecure about women, and especially Black women being more intelligent and performing higher than them?
I mean, I know that the messages we receive affect us, but I don’t know, I just did not think that I would be dealing with these messages as heavily as I endured.
The hostility gets so intense sometimes. I’m just doing me you know? I’m not trying to compete with anyone because I don’t feel that I have to. I know my worth. I don’t need to be better than anyone, I just am performance wise and skill wise and intelligent wise.
If someone takes that as arrogance so be it. It’s the damn truth!
I have superior skills, talents and intelligence and there are people who have superior skills and talents and intelligence than mine and I don’t fall apart about it.
I’m not going to blog about every or most instances where my intelligence was met with hostility but there have been enough to write a book about.
I grew up in a household for which bringing home straight A’s my mother reacted with “that’s what’s expected of you.” There wasn’t really high praise for getting distinguished honors.
In that way I did relate a lot to the academic plights of many of the international students that I tutored from Asia. I had Chinese, Japanese and Korean students who grew up in harsh academic settings and I could relate to some degrees because my family is made up of many educators.
There is no room for failure in my family. The two pillars of my family are education and faith and following God. It’s made of up clergy and educators. My grandmother was a principal and many other things. Her name can be googled. She integrated University of Delaware and was one of the first Black Women to graduate with a degree from that university.
I complained during my first year of college that I come from the “family of the gods” and I do not know how I will ever compare to my family members.
They didn’t understand why I felt that way. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all the awards and plaques on the wall that I see everyday.
They thought that they were doing something positive. I am not against what they did but the same thing that was done to create ambition in me also created a sense of insecurity as well. I just wanted to make them proud so badly and I felt like I needed to have just as many awards and accolades to do so.
My dad is the type to say that most things do not impress him. He often responded to my work with, “it’s ok.” I would take offense to that because the outside world would praise me for my work. I knew that when my father rarely said, “Wow, that’s good.” that I had received the highest compliment. I don’t care if the world said what I did was absolute trash. If my father said it was good, if my mother said it was good, then it was good.
I suppose that as an adult, I haven’t yet broken away from seeking their approval. I have always been a goody two shoes and a very obedient first child.
I want to believe that it won’t take me finally moving away to break away from seeking that approval, but if I’m being honest, it’s probably the case.
When I told my parents I graduated with my graduate degree at 23 years old, they reminded me that they both got theirs at a younger age.
One of the most unhealthy things is that in my eyes my parents are demi-gods. It’s not that they have never failed at anything, it’s just, they are so accomplished, and other family members are so accomplished, that sometimes, it makes me feel inadequate in comparison.
They told me not to compare myself because I am young and they took years to get where they are at.
I understand that on the surface, but it is still hard.
I mean, in my house B meant I could do better, and C was unacceptable.
That kind of forms a mental complex.
No matter what I accomplish, most times, I feel less than.
I don’t blame my parents, because they have stated several times that I am too hard on myself.
I suffer from perfectionism.
Because of that, I can’t enjoy the fruits of my labor.
In my artwork I’ll always see what is wrong.
But my ability to be meticulous and see the errors allows me to improve and I strive for an unrealistic ideal.
I can never make a perfect painting. I wish that I could. I want to print the painting that I see in my mind. I get close, but almost never perfect.
The closest I ever got was my art piece “We Cannot See Alone.”
I am most proud of that piece and I made it at age sixteen.
Anyway, all in all, there is a price that girls like me pay, and what saddens me, is having known all the girls who dropped off and gave up and gave in to doing all that they could “to get a man” who sacrificed themselves to meet society’s expectations, and the perceived epitome of happiness for a woman.
But in their defense I was raised differently. I was raised with parents who never saw my womanhood as a negative or an obstacle. They knew what the world would try to do to me and they fought it gung ho and instilled an attitude in me of pushing till my last breath to achieve.
Is there an unhealthy side to that? Yes.
But that is a blog for another day.
~ Confessions of a Smart Blerd Girl…