For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
I never felt like a genius.
I felt crazy. Too much. Misunderstood. Not good enough.
But never a genius.
Sometimes, I felt like I was speaking a different language. I’d say something that—to me—seemed pretty clear. And people would pick up on maybe 10% of what I was saying. And so I started diluting my words to match their expectations.
I remember in college being out at the bar and just watching the scene, curiously. Like a spectator in my own life. Always half inside and half outside. Like Nick Carraway’s within and without.
I never fit in. Even when I did. Even when, from the outside, I was the most social person in the room.
Because it wasn’t me fitting in. Not the real me, anyway. Just a conglomeration of the right rules and social cues I had learned throughout my life.
Ever the good student, I knew that I was “too much” and “not enough.” I was wrong. The real me was too intense and too introspective to be accepted. So I dazzled people with my mastery of the social rules.
I never felt like a genius. I felt more like a person who really struggled to conform, even when I appeared to be doing an okay job at it.
I wasn’t a child prodigy. I didn’t (and don’t) play a musical instrument. I didn’t go to a special school for talented and gifted kids. I never skipped a grade. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school.
By nearly every standard I knew of, I wasn’t a genius.
When we live our lives thinking we’re not all that special and we’re “too much,” we tend to tone ourselves down. Mute ourselves to the point where we can’t hear our authentic voice anymore. And adopt the loudest voices around us.
We play the part. We go through the motions. After all, we’ve always been good at learning and following the rules.
If we’re lucky, the sensitivity that we try so desperately to bury refuses to die. As numb as we try to make ourselves to it, it somehow keeps fighting for us. Until, one day, the pressure of suppression is so great that it blows up in front of our faces. And we can’t ignore it anymore.
For me, it was waking up vomiting blood. Vomiting up years of suppressing the parts of myself that were “too much” and “not enough.”
I was one of the lucky ones. Try as I might, my genius and sensitivity refused to give up on me.
And maybe I still didn’t feel like a genius. Maybe it’d take me many years before I ever felt like a genius. But I knew something needed to change.
Let’s make no mistake here—I’d still be living a comfortable, conforming life if that were an option. I didn’t discover my genius because I was always validated for something or because I just knew it from birth.
Maybe some people are that fortunate. But, having worked with hundreds of geniuses, I can say with absolute certainty that it’s the very rare exception.
No, genius often looks a little bit more like I just described. Never really fitting in, even when we do. And always being “too much” and “not enough” and incredibly sensitive. And being fortunate enough for that sensitivity to not die away, no matter how much we try to numb it.
Genius looks a lot more like being misunderstood and feeling crazy and, generally, feeling like we’re not really living the life we were meant to live. A hell of a lot more than just knowing we’re geniuses.
Because we misunderstand genius. We just fundamentally don’t get it.
Genius isn’t about having a few skills that are validated by a given society (and, therefore, conform to that society’s standards). Genius, by definition, is a “generative power,” an “inborn nature”—something that is yours and yours alone.
Genius is a unique gift, an energy medicine, that we can only get from you.
It’s more than just what you do in one field like work or music. It’s the way your mind works. It’s your perspective. It’s how you uniquely connect the dots. It’s your passions and your interests and your subjectivity.
Your inborn nature.
Genius isn’t what makes you fit into the world. It’s what keeps you from fitting in. It’s what forces you on the outside of our current world, so you can see possibilities that have yet to come.
We geniuses are always on the inside and the outside at the same time. We are always within and without.
If your genius is your one-of-a-kind gift—your unique inborn nature—then, of course, you’ll be “too much” and “not enough” for the world around you. You’re dreaming up bigger possibilities than currently exist.
It’s your sensitivity—your acute sensitivity—that allows you to literally sense more. To split hairs. To see nuances and subtleties where others cannot.
You can see more of the world in your area of genius than any of the rest of us can.
But, to even begin to discover your genius, you have to believe you have one first. You have to believe it’s possible that you really do have a unique inborn nature.
That maybe there’s a reason you never fit in completely perfectly. That maybe there’s a reason you’ve always been “too much” and “not enough.” That maybe there’s a reason you’ve felt crazy or misunderstood.
Because the process of discovering our genius is about re-centering ourselves. Instead of deciding the world is right, and I don’t fit in so I’m wrong, we flip it on its head.
We realize that maybe we aren’t wrong. Maybe our emotions aren’t wrong. Maybe our sensitivity and reactions aren’t wrong. Maybe we’ve never been wrong.
Maybe we’re right. Maybe, just maybe, we’re geniuses. And there’s something unique and special about us.
And then our job isn’t to fit into the world around us. It’s to know who we are—who we truly are—and build a life around that.
Your challenge isn’t that you’re struggling to accomplish what you want. Your challenge is you don’t realize you’re a genius.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another.
Have you never felt like a genius?
- Are you positive that you, in fact, aren’t a genius? Have you often felt crazy, misunderstood, “too much,” and “not enough”?
- Have you struggled to just “make it work” in the world and accomplish your goals? Do you feel like others have a way easier time accomplishing their goals than you do?
- What if your challenge isn’t that you’re struggling to accomplish what you want, but that you haven’t realized you’re actually a genius? What if you’ve been trying so hard to fit in when, in fact, your genius will never fit in? What if your only role is to know who you are and start building a life from that space?