Crowns & Thorns: Fear of A Beautiful Mind
By @KiaTheWriter |
When I was a kid, just like every other millennial child, my parents told me I was special and could be anything I wanted to be. I did indeed believed them but, there was a piece of me that never felt that I was special enough. I did not just want to be seen as special by my family, I wanted to be seen as special by people outside of the walls of my home. I decided that my ticket to getting people to like me and want me around would be to become a GENIUS.
It’s Elementary My Dear
In my elementary school days, I had an affinity for the films Little Man Tate (1991) and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993). Seeing these tales of child prodigies gave me the idea that genius equals likeability and popularity on a scale beyond the family memebers in my household.
At that young age I knew I was not innately an academic genius, but I thought that if I studied hard enough and tried to learn how to play chess really well, that maybe...just maybe, my genius talents would magically unlock and I would be impressive enough to others and become well liked.
See, I was the quiet little dark-skinned girl in class, that did what the teacher said, and loved to learn. I was the little girl that dressed like a little boy that played with boy things, and enjoyed boy games. I was the goodie-two-shoes that had two moms and the socially awkard one that could not always relate well with others. At a young age, my mother prepared me for the cruel world of childhood by teaching me that “not everyone is your friend” and that you “should not tell all your business." I learned early, that to survive in this world, you must keep your heart gaurded.
Those lessons from my mom resonated with me every time I got THAT question from some kid in class that wanted to gain a brief moment of popularity at my expense. They would ask THAT dreaded question, “Why do you dress like a boy? Do you want to be one?” At the age of 5 & 6 I would have to go into a feminist debate with my classmates before I even knew what feminism was. I would have to argue them down that girls could do everything boys could. I would have to adamantly explain that people can wear whatever they want. I would have to make them challenge their mental programming of gender role norms by me just doing the things I liked to do, wearing the clothes that I liked to wear and playing with toys I liked to play with. I made so many kids uncomfortable by just being me. The only way they seemed to know how to resovle this cognative dissonace was to nitpick at me in subtle and overt ways. And THAT question always chipped away at my confidence.
Those early blips of teasing came to a head when I hit the 4th grade. It was at that time that I figured out that other kids were not cruel to me when I helped them understand how to get an answer to a math problem or explained the answer to a reading comprehension question. I learned that if I drew nice pictures and gave them to other students I would be seen as good enough to be a momentary friend.
From those repeated social exchanges of nice behavior toward me from others when I shared my value with them allowed my young mind to come to a conclusion. If I could increase my knowledge and ability to genius levels people would like me for more extended amounts of time, and not just for scattered moments in time.
So, those elementary school social exchange microcosms were social schemas I carried with me throughout my teenhood and into my adulthood. The mental schema I pull from tells me: “You are only likeable and loveable to those outside of your immediate family when you are smart enough and first provided others a great amount of value without the expectation of reciprocity. Once this is done you increase your chances of them seeing you as someone to brefriend just for being you.”
Gifts On High
My study habits being tied to my extrinsic motivation of belonging and the need to be loved by those outside of my nuclear family pushed me to Academically Gifted status throughout elementary school. In high school it pushed me through Advanced Placement classes.
By the time I hit high school, I had come to the realization that my chance to become a child prodigy had passed. I was pretty smart, but I still was not a genius. I also came to the realization that being smart just translated to people chumming up to you when they needed something. I became very adept at deciphering when people were truly genuine and just wanted to be friends because they simply wanted to belong and be love just like me.
By the time I hit my junior year in high school, I had come to peace with just being textbook smart & not on some Einstein sh*t. My junior year in high school was also the moment that my mental trajectory shifted drastically and my beautiful mind took over. The genius magic began.
The Beautiful Synap
Just two months after the theatric release of another genius tale that I fell in love with on the big screen, A Beautiful Mind (2001), I experienced what I perceived to be the unlocking of my genius. Like the lead character in Ron Howard’s biopic film (i.e. Robert Nash) my mind began to swiftly connected spiritual mysteries, popular culture, hip hop lyrics, and sections of the dictionary. I felt I could see how so many things connected to one another. I saw the patterns in culture that could help us humans make the world a more peaceful place.
It was all connected. We were all connected. If I could help find those cultural code, maybe we could save the world from descending into the darkness.
It was the most amazing feeling in the world.
No need to sleep. No need to eat. Just take in the stream of information and decipher it. All my mind could focus on was trying to help figure out these codes. These codes in the culture. These codes that could help save humanity from it’s own evils. I could not stop until I found the codes that would help the light win over the evil shielding itself in the shadows.
And then I found them. I found them in N.E.R.D. I found them in the DMX prayer on Dark and Hell is Hot. I found them in the Spike Lee film Malcolm X. I found them in the Roc-a-fella Records documentary Backstage. I found them in the Bible and the dictionary.
And then...then I had to share them.
I had to broadcast them to others.
No matter how odd it felt coming out of my mouth...the dispensing of these codes was my duty. No matter how much I did not want to share these culture codes my body, mouth and spirit was compelled to blurt them out to whoever would listen. I would always start by saying,
“I know this sounds crazy but I have to tell you this….”
“I know I am not Jesus but I feel like him…”
“It feels like God is making me say this, so please listen…”
What’s Your Biggest Fear?
In this moment of what felt like genius, like the brokenness of a Robert Nash brilliance filled with utter chaos, I feared nothing and knew without a shadow-of-a-doubt that I would help save the world. That I would help find those keys to international peace.
And then...the wristband came.
The shoestrings disappeared.
My garments became green and loose.
The rooms became stark and cold.
The breakfast spread was now accompanied with a medicine cup.
Two pills with your eggs, grits, saugage, biscuit, jelly, and orange juice.
My moment of genius was snatched away by people in white coats and the family that loved me so dearly that only wanted to protect me.
The white coats told me that I was Manic Depressive and was experiencing a moment of mania. They told me that my stream of consciousness and feeling at one with Adonai was just an imbalance of chemicals flooding the synapsi of my brain. They made me believe that I should denounce the cultural codes that were gifted to me that could help bring more positive light into the world. They showed me that suppressing my ability to help “save the world” with the pills made everyone else feel way more comfortable. They subliminaly told me that quieting my light and dettaching my self from Adonai was the right thing to do.
I was now labeled as one of those with A Beautiful Mind, and I was so afraid. I was not afraid of what my mind was doing. I was afraid of how others would treat me. Maybe my prayers of becoming a genius were indeed answered. But, maybe their was a loophole found in my prayers for wisdom. Maybe my prayers were tinged with too much vanity & pride. Maybe that tinge of sin in my childhood prayers landed me on the genius spectrum less often highlighted in realistic terms and coveted by none. Maybe, I was made into The Mad Genius.
So if you asks me, “Kia, what is your biggest fear?” The answer will most certainly be, “To have a beautiful mind, that everyone else thinks is ugly.”
In the name of Adonai I pray.