The Smartest Person In A Room All By Yourself

I am the smartest person in a room all by myself. Perhaps you too have felt this feeling, the idea that you’re too smart to be where you are right now in life. Maybe you felt that you were destined for greatness, something fitting for your intellectual ability. Yet you find yourself stagnant, directionless and spinning your wheels. You are both goal-oriented and yet unable to focus on a single ambition. As time goes on, you start to compare your situation to others and find that excuses such as a bad economy or high cost of graduate school are not sufficient excuses. You’re as smart as they come, but you have nothing to show for it. This is what it feels like to be the smartest person in a room all by yourself.

At Twelve, I was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism, specifically Aspergers. According to my school psychologist, and my scores on IQ exams, I am a certified genius with an IQ over 145. Yet much like other MENSA members, I am the smartest person in a room all by myself.

You’re probably rolling your eyes right now at that revelation, because who cares about someones IQ in a vacuum. You’d be correct to think that way, because it means absolutely nothing without accomplishment.

Like many others with Autism, I have found it hard to put myself out there for feedback and professional opportunity. More troubling, I have found it even harder to ask for help when directionless.

I have considered many careers, most notably my passion for the arts and desire to work in feature film/TV development. Before that, I studied political science and law with the hopes of becoming an entertainment lawyer. At other points I have found myself interested in studying conflict resolution and international relations in Europe. I applied to Sciences Po in Paris for the MSc program in International Relations, and was accepted to that institution (a school the last three French presidents have also attended). Undergraduate, I was accepted to NYU, and Columbia. I scored in the 97th percentile on my LSAT. Yet, I remain directionless, spinning my wheels toward the concrete wall of the big 3-0. While a lot of those declines on my part were financial, others said Yes to those opportunities and took the financial risk; a risk I was unable to take myself.

I strongly believe in the limiting factor of the ‘genius complex’; the idea that we have grand visions for ourselves. When you’re told that you are MENSA certified at 12, you come to expect great things of yourself. You begin to set unrealistic expectations, and then judge yourself for failing to live up to your own definition of success. It’s very narcissistic to believe that because you are brilliant you will succeed on that intellect alone. Yet this is one of the reasons many intelligent people are most unable to admit they need help and guidance. It’s hard to focus on the amount of years it takes to become successful when learning and new information came to us with such ease, so quickly.

While I’ve been told that I have a gift of language by the producer of my favorite films, an idol of mine, I am no closer to making films of my own three years later. Despite my solid academic performance, I am no closer to another degree or career. My resume seems weak in comparison to those even five years younger than myself. I have sat in a room all by myself whether I realized it or not. It is my fault that I am where I am today, and I accept that.

Sometimes when you have such lofty goals, it is almost impossible to put them into action. We remain our own worst critic. I crave intellectual experiences but have been unable to seek them out. My resume speaks nothing to my intellectual ability. Where most of my Twitter seems to be moving forward with projects of their own, I feel this constant state of imposter syndrome despite once having mentorship from a highly respected member of the filmmaking community. That fact alone keeps me lingering for a past that I wish could still be playing out in the present. Worst of all, my autistic interactions with him ruined any chance of future work for him.

I am the smartest person in a  room all by myself. I am an autistic introvert with extroverted tendencies. I may socialize better than many of my autistic counterparts, but much like others on the spectrum I remain in a rut unable to propel myself forward. I am a genius but I am also a bum. I feel like I have wasted valuable years of my life, but I know my life is nowhere near over. I have failed by my own expectations. I want to get out of this room all by myself, I want to ask for help, but don’t know where to turn… except to the page, to this post.

15 Ways The United States is Closer to Russia Than European Democracies

  1. Military Force. We routinely use military powers to invade other nations outside of the rules of international law. We spend comparably on the military at the expense of infrastructure and other issues. Western Europe spends a far smaller percentage of their budget on the military.
  2. Incarceration. The United States has among the highest incarceration rates in the developed world, and houses 22% of the worlds prison population. It has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with Russia (and China) not far behind. Countries in Western Europe, like the Netherlands, are closing prisons under criminal law reforms.
  3. Police Corruption. As more and more video is shared across social media of US cops quick to pull the trigger, police abuses have become front and center in US political debate. The Grand Jury system, which depends on prosecutors who often share close relationships with police in the US, has failed to bring cops to trial to face justice for abuses. Russia is long notorious for not holding cops accountable for abuses, dating back to the policies of the USSR. Can you recall a police abuse video from Western Europe?
  4. Money in Politics. Putins party has close ties to the oil industry and several real estate tycoons, earning Russia the label of oligarchy. Post-Citizens United, the US has allowed record money to enter the political landscape with little oversight. Absent campaign finance regulations and two parties easily manipulated by corporate cash, the same label could easily be applied to us. Elections in Western Europe are publicly funded.
  5. Wealth Inequality. While Russia recently ranked the worst overall in the world for wealth inequality, the U.S. also ranks in the top five under the developed nations category according to the OECD. Countries like France do a far better job of equal distribution of wealth as it relates to investment in resources that provide for greater economic opportunity. This can be studied further by researching a countries Gini Coefficient.
  6. Democracy. Only two political parties exist in the United States, making it very easy to buy one of two parties to do your bidding as a corporation. In Russia, there are also only two major parties, with a very corrupt election process. In W. Europe they have proportional representation and several political parties. This forces coalition building and compromise, and it is far harder to buy out single parties. It also disallows 30% of the population from choosing the majority (like in 2014 US elections), because unlike the US or Russia, it is not a winner-take-all system but a system whose Parliamentary seats are determined by a percentage of the population, not an electoral college (i.e. if socialists get 30% of vote, they get 30% of the seats). Therefore W. Europe is more Democratic.
  7. Dynastic Politics. Putin is president again after past terms, and after his muppet briefly took over. We have a Bush and Clinton running in addition to an assortment of other members of the economic 1%. Many countries in Western Europe have shorter terms and a multitude of parties make it difficult for a person to be elected more than once, let alone winning re-election.
  8. Healthcare. The US healthcare law does nothing to address costs, only the uninsured population. Costs remain exorbitantly high because we gave private industry a mandate to purchase their product. We spend $7500 per capita on Healthcare (2x the OECD average) v. bellow $3500 in many W. European nations, which despite having nationalized insurance provisions (not government hospitals with exception of UK) is a more cost effective system.  In Russia,  they spend considerably less than the OECD average, but have higher death rates per capita. The US too for the first time in history will see this generation live shorter lives than their parents.
  9. Gender Inequality. Whereas Western European nations all rank considerably high up (meaning low inequality) in the Human Development Reports’ Gender Inequality Index, both Russia and US miss out on the top ten. The index calculates equality on the basis of labor market participation, reproductive health and empowerment. Glass ceilings remain in place in both Russia and the US, abortion remains a hot topic in both countries and political seats held by women in Russia and the US are far behind that of Western European nations.
  10. Work Life Balance. The myth between more hours worked and productivity is popularly subscribed to in nations like the US, Russia and China. In Europe, more time is devoted to family, personal time and pursuits with the average work week about 35 hours. These European countries are all advanced economies and their people are considerably less stressed than Russian or US workers. Europeans also enjoy significantly more vacation time for workers to recharge, with one month v the US standard of 1.5-2 weeks. Heck even in Russia the average vacation time is 28 days despite 40+ hour work weeks!
  11. Wages. The US has seen wages stagnate since the 1980s, despite a rise in worker productivity. Instead of raising wages, we’ve expanded access to cheap credit (personal debt). In Russia wages are similarly low with little worker protections. Both countries demonize Union workforce and corporations hold the upper hand in judicial battles. In W. Europe, wages are considerably higher and meet a livable wage. Personal debt is much lower since people complete purchases in cash not credit. While Nordic countries like Denmark have a high personal debt level, this is offset by above average savings (in the US people have high personal debt and little savings).
  12. College Education. Both the US and Russia have very high college costs as a percent of annual salaries. Both nations have tuition costs that far exceed the annual take home pay of average families, causing a reliance on loans (with the US actually far worse than Russia in this category). In W. Europe college education is free in countries like Germany, or significantly subsidized in other countries. In France attending public university is around 2,500 Euro per year for tuition! Western Europe also places greater emphasis on vocational schools.
  13.  Socio-Economic Mobility. Are you better off than your parents? Were you, like Trump, lucky enough to have money to make money? Or is your country more equal in terms of economic mobility? With the exception of the UK with its knighthoods and noble class, the US ranks behind all Western European nations, with less opportunity for class advancement if you’re not born rich. The same can be said for Russia, even more so.
  14. Intelligence Community. Neither of our intelligence organizations seem to operate under the rules of law, and routinely go un-policed by government oversight. Sadly Western Europe is not much better in this regard despite greater public outcry (perhaps that silly SPECTRE plot wasn’t so farfetched).
  15. Social Views on Gays. Putin has long condemned gays, even going as far as imprisoning them. Here we have a vocal chorus of those in political power who would similarly like to decline civil rights to Gay people and many use language like “barbarism” “inhuman” and “sick” to describe Gay people. While our Supreme Court recently upheld rights for Gays to marry, Houston just struck down a proposal granting protections to Gay people in the event that they are fired for their homosexuality under the guise of “no bathroom sharing for transgenders”. Europe offers considerably more protections to LGBT citizens, and has recognized Gay marriage in many cases for over a decade.