Several months ago, I read my very first Jules Verne novel. “The Mysterious Island”. It was very different from other classics I had read. It was neither boring nor did it have too many details -sadly that is the reason many a classic is labeled as unreadable by many nowadays-. It was very informative. I am now assured that if were to ever find myself stranded on a island, I would be perfectly capable of surviving. Naturally I found myself on Wikipedia 30 seconds after finishing the book, to read every single detail of this brilliant man’s life. I was surprised to discover that he had led a tragic life. And that he wasn’t as successful and loved as I thought he ought to be. He was not a brilliant, successful man who was loved by many. He was seen as lazy, unsuccessful, and a failure to his family and friends. Why had this engaging individual hide his intelligence from the world around him?
The answer came to me a few weeks later as I was reading my diary from when I was 13. At that time I had just started to make a few friends at a church I had been attending for almost a year. SOMETHING YOU LEARN WHEN GROWING UP#1: If you’re different, you will be liked by none and hated by all. So to fit in, I pretended to be the dumb blonde. Smart, huh? -let me just clarify that I am in no way dumb or blonde. I am, in fact, quite intelligent and very much a brunette!- But everyone bought it because they wanted it to be true. It very quickly turned into one of those situations like when you’re nine *mother tells whining child that “If you act like a baby, I’ll treat you like one!” Oooh how that would offend us!* Same sitch. If you act like a dumb blonde, you’ll be treated like one. I was. They did. I got offended. And became determined to convince them otherwise. So then I became the other extreme: the know-it-all. Didn’t end well….
Eventually I reached a comfortable middle where I didn’t compromise who I was for the sake of others but choose not to talk as much for my own sake. I learned that people hate different, but that’s their problem. And that in order to have friends you have to speak less than what you know because no one cares about or likes know-it-alls.
And that, my non-existent readers, is why no one saw who Jules Verne really was. Because he was as I like to call ‘Tragically Clever’. When someone is too intelligent for their own good. Someone who society hasn’t beaten the “If you want to be liked, be like everyone else” rule that’s been a part of our society for as long as we can all remember. Too smart for his time. It makes me wonder how many people hide who they really are for the sake of others around them….