‘Pretty privilege is real says ‘invisible’ mom in her 40s’ is an article I read online just today. I guess with me being a man who always identified himself with his brain power, I have the opposite issues. I was rarely noticed, often ignored, and occasionally demonized for having a mind and trying to use it. This came from everyone, but even my own family occasionally demonized me for thinking on my own and seeking knowledge. Now that I’m in my 40s, people are only recently starting to notice me for my mind and wisdom. Might be why I don’t get nostalgic for my youth or the past. I’m in my 40s, have congestive heart failure, severe mental health issues, yet I am overall far happier and more productive in my 40s than I ever could have imagined when I was in high school. Yet, I’ve been saying the same type of things since I was in 5 years old. When I was 8 years old and figured out on my own Santa Claus didn’t exist, I immediately thought “What other lies am I being told”. I was angry, but not because Santa Claus didn’t exist. I was angry because my authority figures didn’t think I could handle the cold truth and lied to me. First crack in the wall of why I don’t trust anyone in authority. Definite breach of trust to my 8-year-old mind. When I was 10 and my mom told me where babies came from this was my first reaction.
10 year old Me: “This is the only way babies are made, right?”
10 year old Me: “Everybody knows this is how babies are made?”
10 year old Me: “Then why do adults who don’t want babies have sex in the first place? Sounds stupid if you ask me.”
It was perfectly rational in my overactive 10-year-old mind that was perfectly rational for adults who don’t want children to, you know, not have sex in the first place. As the years went on and precocious teenage me discovered girls, I started asking girls out on dates. Vast majority of the time I was told no, sometimes very brutally. In my entire life I dated only three women, well two if you don’t count my female best friend from high school (who ironically is still my best friend in my 40s). I couldn’t even get a ‘yes’ for something as simple as a cup of coffee. To this day I still don’t know what I was doing wrong though I have my suspicions without any real way to prove them.
After my only long-term relationship ended in 2006, I was so beaten and discouraged by then that I just gave up. It was the same year I applied for disability and went to the mental hospital for the first time. Now, 17 years later with my chronic health issues and chronic poverty, I couldn’t get anything beyond casual friendship anymore. Besides with divorce rates hovering around 50 percent for decades, most people still don’t know how to sustain a relationship in the first place. I point blank asked lots of people for many years starting in high school, “What am I doing wrong?” I always got answers like, “Keep looking. There’s someone out there.” or “God will provide” or “Wait until college”, etc. And I was always like, “That is not what I’m asking.” Hell, I had far worse luck dating in college than I ever did in high school. Yet another lie my authority figures told me. I was always told nerds did better dating wise than jocks in college. And I wasn’t a jock in high school; I was a nerd who went to a small enough school I was on the football team for three years because there were only 35 boys on the football team in a school of less than 100 students in grades 9 thru 12. Most people don’t even realize that places that small exist. I’m a nerd even though I didn’t discover I liked Star Trek until I was in my thirties. Didn’t read Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ until the pandemic.
Now, instead of being seen as a smartass having discipline issues like I was well into my 30s, I’m now seen as a middle-aged sage. What changed? I have never gotten any kind of straight answer. I’m still unnerved and unused to this kind of power and influence even among close friends. I have never been in any kind of position of authority. I was never even on student council in my tiny high school of less than 90 students. Freshman year of high school I ran for class president and got only 3 votes. I can remember only three times in my entire life anyone told me they were proud of be before my 40th birthday. People have told me they were proud of me hundreds of times since. Where was this appreciation back in my younger years? I’m not doing anything different now than when I was in my 20s and failing at minimum wage jobs. Since I’m starting to gain appreciation from my social circles for my smarts and wisdom, I now so want to make it to a ripe very old age. I’m going to do everything I can to keep my kindness and smarts. The best people I ever knew were elderly wise people who never lost their kindness. I always loved the idea of the ‘friendly genius’. I guess while some people, namely women, had ‘pretty prestige’ in their young years, I’m starting to have ‘intelligence and wisdom prestige’ in my 40s. I’m so thankful I didn’t die from heart failure a year ago. I’m also realizing my dad was right when he said “Nerds will rule the world” when I was 13 back in 1993.
I’m proud of you and your intelligence and wisdom prestige.