A few years ago when my sister was talking about the benefits of breastfeeding and how our mom managed it longer with me, she said, “maybe that’s why you’re smarter than me.” This was a very weird thing to hear from my older sister.
I was placed in a gifted program in school, but I was identified late and was almost kicked out for underachievement. At this point I was a little resentful of the high achievers in my class. Of course, as an adult, I’ve come to realize that hard work will get you much farther than some idealized notion of potential.
I believe that people tend to think of intelligence in two ways: achievement and IQ. Having extensively tested both for the last 12 years, I can say that there is so much more to it than that. How well someone tests and performs in school is just one small part of a very large picture.
If we put too much emphasis on achievement, then brilliant kids who underachieve will think they are dumb. If we put too much stock in IQ, then they never learn the value of hard work and often fail to meet their own potential.
I went on to pursue a degree in psychology and eventually school psychology and settled down into a steady full-time job for over a decade. I felt lucky to find something I was good at that brought in a steady paycheck. I’ve done my job pretty well, but there is very little in it that one might call remarkable.
That brings me back to my sister, who has a special kind of brilliance. Like me, she was able to skate through advanced classes in school with minimal efforts for Bs. We both dropped out of our first colleges when we finally met with some challenge or unclear expectations. She was clearly bright but never really stood out in school for outstanding achievement or divergent thinking. We are both highly excitable in our own ways, but her imaginational excitability is the strongest while that area tends to be my area of least excitability.
The fruits of her genius started a couple of years ago when her son had a Scooby Doo themed birthday party. Now you might think a few store-bought decorations would do the trick, but not for my sister! We all dressed as the characters and there was a mystery to solve, of course. Little did she know that this party would unleash her brilliance onto the world!
She decided that what the party needed was a near life-sized crochet blanket of the Mystery Machine. No problem right? She could whip that up in no time. Only how does one create a detailed image like that in crochet? Well, there are ways but they look messy in the back, so she decided to create her own technique.
She has since gone on to win several awards with her work and signed a book deal. She is now the author of Reversible Color Crochet, which presents a never-before-published technique for creating images in crochet that are completely reversible.
How many people in our lifetime can say that they developed a marketable craft technique that’s never been done before? Not many I’d venture to say.
So when my sister said I was smarter than she is, she was really looking at what society tells us is “smart,” but honestly I am in awe at the capability of her creative mind! I think we should remember that we need to foster people’s strengths and not focus on comparison. We all have something valuable to share, and if we focus too much on any one trait as the most valuable, we risk losing sight of the brilliance that lies beneath.
You can find more of her wonderful crocheted creations and patterns on recrochetions.com.