Am I smart enough?

The “dumb blonde” jokes didn’t bother me at first. Growing up, I always felt just as capable and intelligent as other students, even though some kids expected me to be dumb because of the stereotype associated with having blonde hair.

When I reached high school, though, my grades started to drop, and I found myself constantly commenting that I wasn’t smart or capable enough to do well in my classes. I jokingly told my friends that it was probably because of my blonde hair. But the real reasons for my low self-esteem and self-doubt were a soccer coach who’d made me feel I wasn’t good enough, teammates who put me down, and a teacher who had humiliated me in front of his class. 

I’d really started to believe that I wasn’t smart. 

When I transferred from my high school to a school for Christian Scientists, my low self-esteem followed me, and although my grades started to improve, I’d still make self-deprecating jokes as a way to deflect my doubts about my intelligence. 

My junior year, my guidance counselor placed me in an honors class. The first day, I came to class with trepidation and looked around the room. 

These are all the smart kids, I thought. I don’t fit in here. 

After class, I approached the teacher and told him I didn’t think an honors class was a good idea for me. When he asked why, I explained that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other students, who were all much smarter than I was.

I’d make self-deprecating jokes as a way to deflect my doubts about my intelligence.

My teacher was a Christian Scientist, and I could tell he didn’t believe that I was not intelligent enough or capable of handling the class work. I knew this was because he wasn’t seeing me as limited or having a particular IQ but as the expression of divine intelligence, or God. Even if I wasn’t sure I believed that, it was refreshing that he did.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “Give it until the end of the week. If you’re still feeling like you can’t keep up, we’ll talk again.” 

I hesitantly agreed. As it turned out, I quickly made friends with the other students in the class and never felt like I was falling behind or out of place. I started to regain some of my confidence and my tendency to make “dumb blonde” jokes began to fade.

Later that year, I auditioned for the lead in a Shakespeare play and was shocked when I got the role. But elation quickly turned to fear as I worried about how I’d be able to memorize my lines, let alone understand the complex and stylized English. When I took my concern to my theater teacher (also a Christian Scientist), she told me that she had chosen me knowing I was capable of handling the role. She assured me that it wasn’t me doing the work. God is divine Mind, and I am His complete expression. Leaning on God, I couldn’t fail.

I still worked hard to memorize the lines and learn what they meant. My parents helped me understand that the memorization, study, and rehearsals to prepare for the show were important, but ultimately the biggest help would be to see that God provided me with all the intelligence I needed. They also reminded me I was there to bless my cast mates and the audience, not to prove myself as a good lead.

When opening night came, I sat surrounded by my cast mates before the show and silently prayed that God would provide us all with what we needed to succeed. I put the whole thing in His hands and thanked Him for the opportunity to express Mind on stage. 

God is divine Mind, and I am His complete expression. Leaning on God, I couldn’t fail.

The show went even better than I expected. After one performance, I saw my history teacher, and I went over to thank him for coming. 

“I hope you never doubt your intelligence again,” he told me. “I don’t know many people who would be able to memorize all of those lines and speak them as naturally as you did.” 

I thanked him for his kind words. The support I’d received from my teachers and my parents, along with the freedom I’d felt performing, helped me realize that my intelligence is not determined by hair color, which classes I take in school, what others say, or even my own perception of myself. As God’s reflection, each of us expresses every good quality God includes—like clarity, focus, insight, and understanding. 

I am so grateful that Christian Science helps us see what we are capable of as we understand that all our abilities come from God.

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