The Downside to Being Smart, Responsible, Reliable (and A Good Baker)

Disclaimer

I realize that after reading the title of this post you probably think I’m either a) incredibly conceited or b) in the off chance that I am actually all the things stated above, I am selfish for pointing out the downsides to these attributes. However, I assure you, these are not at all my intentions.

Let me clarify. When I say smart, I’m talking average of a ninety-eight, I don’t even know what a ‘B’ looks like, school smart. I guess responsibility and reliability are two peas in a pod. As for my resume on responsibility, I’d say you could add 6 years of babysitting, coaching young children, and running my own mini summer camp to the list, but the more impressive feat would probably be taking responsibility for my own actions. In terms of reliability, let’s be real, how many things have I done for which taking responsibility is actually essential? Few… hence being reliable. And the baking, well from the number of overzealous compliments I’ve received from virtually everything coming out of my oven, I’m going to let that one speak for itself.

School Smarts

Well, for starters, sure being smart in the way that means I get good grades is helpful, for some things. In the long run, however, those grades are going to mean absolutely nothing. I’m going to go on with my life and I’m going to choose a profession, or maybe the profession is going to choose me, but at the end of the day the majority of what I did in school will be inconsequential. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of good education, have loved school for the majority of my life (mostly because I’m good at it), and have been privileged enough to go to three incredible schools. What I am trying to say is that the grade I got on that math test I took last week is never going to matter again, ever. That number is three things, and three things only. To me, it is a momentary sign that I can do something good enough. To my parents, it is a short-lived period of recognition, in which they admit to themselves, and occasionally to me, that I’m actually good at something. And, most notably, to my teacher, it is like a big yellow sign with bright lights and blaring horns that screams, this student doesn’t need your help. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

See, this is where the trouble begins. So, I did well on that presentation, I scored well on that test, and I’ve never missed a homework assignment in my life (Well, maybe one or two. Oops.). But let me ask you a question, does that mean I don’t need help? Well, clearly I don’t know how you answered this question. So, let me share the next one on my mind. Isn’t the point of school to push each student to learn the most that they’re capable of? I certainly believe that’s what they advertise at my school; the individualized learning and teacher attention. Let me tell you right now that these things only apply if you are performing below average. In the teachers’ defense, I do understand that they’re busy grading, planning, and assisting to these students who allegedly need their help more than I do. But, why turn away a curious student seeking you out to learn more? Personally, I think that’s how so many people become disinterested, out of frustration or lack of encouragement. I’d just like to put it out there that I’ve heard some pretty crazy things from my lovely collection of teachers (no seriously they are great, no sarcasm here). “I used your test as the study guide, you don’t need any help”. Upon requesting help on a math problem I got wrong, “You did well on the last test (on an entirely different subject), you’ll be fine”. And then there are those times when you’re apparently too smart for the teacher’s standards and getting 100% suddenly turns into “It’s easy to cheat by accident”, as half the class cheats, on purpose, right under her nose. Well, I’m rambling, but I think you get the point.

Responsibility Vs. Reliability

That last section ran a little long, so for your sanity (and mine) I’ll try to minimize this one just a bit. I suppose some of you are scouring your minds thinking, ‘What could possibly be the downside to being responsible and reliable?’ For a second, I was with you, ‘What, exactly, was I going to write again?’, but then I remembered, and hopefully it will make even the tiniest bit of sense to you. Once you establish yourself as a person who can be relied on, there’s no going back, on purpose at least. Every action you take builds up the view others have of you, but also the image you have of yourself. Sometimes people mess up and ruin that image for themselves, but mostly, if you’ve always been the person who plans events, the sibling who babysits, or the friend who handles money, you’re always going to be the event planner, babysitter or treasurer.

I’ve always been safe, a known entity. Sometimes that’s a good thing, I won’t deny that. But, sometimes, I just want to be reckless. I want to do something totally crazy and out of the ordinary and not think about it for a second. I want to be young and crazy and wild. For once, I want to stop thinking about being responsible and just be free. Yes, I am completely aware that most of these endeavors do not turn out well. As such, I am in no way committing to doing any of these things, because in reality I probably won’t, but it is that idea, that for a moment, I could be completely out of control and irresponsible and it might, for just an instant, feel liberating. The chances of that happening, however, are slim to none, because despite my best efforts the expectations I have for myself and the ones that others have pinned onto me still cling on for dear life.

Baking

If you have made it this far, you are in for a treat (pun intended). No, but seriously, if you are still reading, my deepest condolences for every second of your life that has died. I appreciate and admire you greatly, and therefore would consider us friends, which in turn would put you on the “Treat Beneficiary” list. Now for all the others out there, what in the world makes you think I am about to give you a piece, a slice, or even a sliver, of whatever it is that I’ve just baked? It’s amazing to me how one can take a single step into a room with a baked good, and suddenly everybody wants to be your best friend. It’s like going to school with a pack of gum or a beach full of seagulls with a slice of bread. They don’t even need to know your name, really, just the name of whatever you’re holding. It is not that I don’t want to share my baked goods. In fact, that would probably prevent me from eating them all. It is simply all the attention that goes straight to the plate, without even the formality of taking a second to add a please to the beginning, to look into my eyes and ask nicely, to learn my name, or even to add a thank you to the end. That is what truly bothers me, and yet I continue to bake.

One day, I want to walk into a room being none of these things. When I walk out, I want everyone in that room to be completely and utterly unaware of my baking skill, and I want someone to describe me as loud, sarcastic, fun, caring, full of energy, intelligent (not smart), and unpredictable.

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