Friday, September 16, 2011

What I learned about mind

August was the month of “smarts, ideas for the sake of ideas, connection, words, and learning.” Qualities I condensed for the sake of brevity into the category of Mind. And by putting my mind on Mind, a very interesting thing happened in the universe around me.

I’ve always said that my ideal mate will be Smart, Funny, and Self-Aware. These are my dealbreakers. If you’re not smart, funny, and able to display a modicum of self-awareness, we’re not a match. And smart has meant a variety of different things over the years. Book smart, street smart, dorky, nerdy, incredible at whatever it is you do, brilliant, genius… any of these would be lovely. I don’t have a baseline requirement for smarts (no minimum IQ or SAT score) but I know smart when I talk to it.

During August, I met a couple of incredibly smart men. One was book smart and in the top of his field, one was a super-brainiac and a top percentile IQ/MENSA type, one was quick-witted and sharp. And yet not one of them was right.

My interaction with these men made me realize a couple of things:

First, any time someone makes a conversation out of how smart he is, that makes me wonder how smart he actually is. This was a good reminder, as I have periodically found myself making mention of dorky things I’ve done or smartypants facts about myself. (“I threw the curve on the freshman year vocabulary test!” “I did second year calculus in high school!”) Turns out? Totally unattractive! We know smart when we see it, not when we’re told all about it. It’s one thing to drop an accomplishment or two into the conversation, but if we’re talking about your application to MENSA and just how many tests you had to ace to get in, I might have to fall asleep a little.

Second, balance is key. Being on a date with someone who is smart without being funny is like going to a really long, boring lecture where the professor may or may not try to kiss you at the end. Similarly, going out with someone who is smart without being self-aware is like listening to a recording of Stephen Hawking – fascinating, but after a while you want to turn the documentary off and talk about something stupid like Spongebob Squarepants or farts.

People – especially people we date and don’t choose – are excellent mirrors for us. I learned from these dates how important it is to also be modest, to listen well, to revel in what makes you happy (even if that’s nerdiness) but to always make sure you’re reaching out to the other person. Making a connection. Because you can only date alone in your mind.

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