inside my brain

December 14, 20213 min read

Sometimes I struggle with the question, am I smart?

Probably not; even the question isn’t formulated very smartly. A smart person would ask a better question like Is my IQ above X?

Recently, thoughts don’t form in my head, instead I hear the lyricism of beautiful sentences with only a few words filled in. Although it’s contentless, it still evokes the reverence of insight, and I feel soothed.

I get insecure about my intelligence because I’m in feeling space all day. I feel divine, I feel grumpy, my feelings are ever present and very loud. My thoughts are not as discernible. Even when I write, I don’t know what I’m going to write until midway through typing each word.

I also have a terrible working memory. As kids, my brother and I would play a game of hide-and-go-seek, only we’d hide my dad’s keys and then the seeker had to find them. Sometimes I hid the keys and my brother couldn’t find them, and I also forgot where I hid them. This happened regularly. The morning after, our whole family would be hunting through the house so my dad could get to work.

Yesterday my partner said he was surprised I’d become a programmer, given that working memory is so useful in programming. I told him I have a system that works for me: I make detailed to-do lists when I program, and I take notes as I go, and whenever my memory goes completely blank I return to what I’ve written like I’m that guy from Memento.

He said that’s what makes you smart, see, you have systems for everything. And that’s true. It’s also why I’m so obsessed with “second brains.” I’m less motivated by “augmenting human intelligence” than by overcoming a lifelong handicap. My ex, who I dated for six years, would often share stories from the beginning of our relationship that I had no memory of. This happens with lifelong friends too, they’ll say do you remember that time we, and I’ll say no.

One day they’re gonna ask me do you remember and I’ll search my second brain, and say haha of course, that was so fun.

I know I’m smart because my life is fantastic, because the SAT (the closest thing I’ve ever taken to an IQ test) said so, because someone at a party says I’m fascinated by your thoughts, and they’re not trying to flirt with me, they genuinely mean it. I guess I’ve got a functioning brain in there, even if it’s mostly unintelligible to me, even if my RAM is low and my thoughts melodic.