What Does It Mean to Be Intelligent?

Hello to the readers here at BayArt!

This is my first entry here, and while I typically dive into topics at random on my personal blog, I decided that I would use this platform to answer questions related to things I’ve noticed throughout the prior week.


Today, I got a wonderfully convenient topic given to me by the universe. I work two jobs; one is in retail and the other a manufacturing environment. At the retail job, I was on break with a couple coworkers, and while I cannot quite remember how the topic came up, he said something that stuck with me:

“I used to be smart.”

He was an honors student. Then, my understanding of the story gets fuzzy here, but basically, things happened and he wasn’t such a good student anymore. Therefore, because his grades stopped being good, he wasn’t smart anymore.

In that moment, I wanted to tell him that he didn’t stop being smart because his grades slipped. I wanted to understand why he felt that slipping grades were the only indicator that he was intelligent, and while he didn’t say that he was stupid, it just seemed sad to me that he would say that he used to be smart.

Is our society that obsessed with quantifiable achievement? I mean, at least here in the U.S.A., it feels like we put so much pressure on our students to fit into all these boxes. Get the grades, do all the extracurricular activities, have a part-time job, and volunteer. Stay constantly busy so you can get the good life, otherwise, you’ll just be another good-for-nothing cog in the wheel.

I say that partially out of observation and partly out of my own personal feelings. Sometimes, I feel like I didn’t do enough to make sure that I got ahead… and that that is why I have to work two jobs to make sure I can keep myself another month away from bankruptcy.

Does a lack of quantifiable factors mean that a person isn’t intelligent? Are we only intelligent because a piece of paper tells us we’re an expert or qualified?

Maybe that depends on your definition of intelligence. For me, those are meaningless to intelligence. I have a Bachelor’s Degree, a high IQ, and great grades… but honestly, all those mean to me is that I went to college without failing out, and I am awesome at taking tests. Those are great things, but they are not what makes me an intelligent being.

What makes someone an intelligent? I don’t think I can necessarily answer that for all of you, but I can tell you what I think it means to be intelligent.

What does intelligence look like to Kelsey? I am so glad you asked, even if I did it for you, 🙂

  1. Inquisitive nature. I think intelligence is all about asking questions with the aim of learning more about the universe around you. Curiosity fuels intelligence so much that I don’t think intelligence can exist without curiosity. After all, if you aren’t curious, then you probably aren’t going to try to gain more knowledge.
  2.  Desire to learn. Let’s face it; if you think you’re done learning, then you are not intelligent. An intelligent person knows that you never stop learning because the world never stops changing. You will never know everything, and that is ok with an intelligent person.
  3. The ability to process your thoughts. Luckily, we all have these handy dandy (if you know a cartoon that used that phrase to describe a notebook, then know that inspired the use of those words) brains that make it easy to analyze our thoughts. You know, so long as we let them do that job, and don’t let the negative things get in the way. Yes, sometimes, that’s hard, but we all fail from time to time, so that’s ok.

Yes, that’s it. Doesn’t everyone do those to an extent? Sure, but the intelligent person will have a stronger ability to handle two and three. I think two, in particular, is what makes or breaks the intelligence of a person.

So, stay curious to keep building those big, beautiful brains!



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