I used to seriously wonder if I was adopted.
When I was IQ tested at a young age my mother refused to tell me the score. The only reason I asked about it, personally I didn’t much care, was because one of my close friends at the time used to run around declaring he was a genius because he had an IQ of 145. My mom said I was in the top percentiles with him but the actual number wasn’t important. I’m not sure if she did that to protect my ego or his.
I’m a fairly intellectual guy (and egotistical), excellent at problem solving and logic, and no one else in my family is in the same intellectual categories as me. I’m the first college graduate and by far the most successful of anyone in my family. I remember when I was a teenager looking at my parents and feeling kind of ashamed by their lack of success and drive… and wondering where the hell my brains came from because obviously my parents weren’t that smart.
It took many years and far more life experience before I learned to appreciate the type of intelligence my parents have.
My parents moved about as far away from their homes as possible when my mother got pregnant with me. My dad got a very blue collar job working at a repair shop and my mother worked as a seamstress. We never had any money when I was growing up with my two younger sisters (I have four sisters now, but I wasn’t around much for two of them). We started out in a one bedroom cabin that my dad built and very slowly moved up to larger places over the years. I didn’t have my own bedroom until I was 14.
35 years later, my dad still works at the same repair shop and my mother has switched to being a massage therapist (like her mother before her).
Over the years my dad was offered plenty of other jobs at different shops that paid better. He never took them. 35 years at the same repair shop, only getting minimal raises every couple years, barely making any money. I used to think he was a coward or lazy because he never “made something of himself”. He runs part of the repair shop now, managing maintenance, but still hardly makes anything. I literally make more money than him and I’m 27 years younger.
As I’ve grown older I’ve realized how extraordinarily talented my dad actually is. He can pick something he’s interested in and absolutely excel at it.
He realized what an impact personal computers would have and got into educating himself before most homes even knew what a computer was. To this day, if I have a problem with my computer I call him for advice. But did he quit the repair shop to work on computers? Nope. Computers are a hobby for him even though he’d probably make a lot more money working with them.
He got his private pilots license. Did he quit the repair shop and get a job flying or maintaining aircraft? No, flying was just a hobby.
My dad is a fantastic artist. His photographs should be displayed in galleries. His pen and ink, or water colors, should be sold for thousands of dollars. Does he pursue an artistic career? No, art’s just a hobby.
So, I looked at my dad and for years I was absolutely distraught that he was still working this dead-end repair job. Why? Why stay there when he could so obviously make a career and more money doing other things? Why isn’t he running his own company or living in a mansion on a hillside?
It took me many, many years to realize how fucking smart my dad really is. In fact, I only realized it over the last couple years. My dad is a fucking genius, no matter what his IQ score or educational level is…
My dad found a job that he liked, that made enough money to survive… and he stuck with it.
It’s almost hard to describe how fucking brilliant that is.
He found something that he enjoyed doing, working with people he liked, figured out how to survive on that income… and he stuck with it.
He didn’t get caught up in all the drama of chasing after money. He didn’t get sucked into jobs he hated to try and earn more. He didn’t get into ego wars with the neighbors, who has a bigger house, who has a nicer car. He didn’t care if his clothes were worn out and his truck was used, any extra money went to us kids… and he stuck with the job he liked. He never bitched or whined, he worked with his friends, he took care of his family… Sure, sometimes he came home tired after a long day but he was always smiling. Always.
My dad stepped outside of societal norms, ignored conventional wisdom, he’s happy with what he has… What more can you say about that? It’s fucking brilliant. That’s success by any definition I know. I just wished I realized all of this when I was growing up, I would have appreciated him a little more.
And my mom, for as hard a time as I give her, is an entrepreneur. When she was a seamstress she worked for a company. She got herself educated and highly certified as a massage therapist and started her own business. Is she ever going to be a millionaire? Probably not. Does she make her own hours, work for herself, and make good money? Fuck yeah. She makes more than my dad does, so technically she’d be the bread winner there. While she might now “wow” anyone with her career choice, she’s happy and successful in her own right.
They might not have gone to college, they might be working fairly menial jobs, they might not be making all that much money, but none of that matters. They’ve raised five healthy kids while finding their own way to be happy and successful, and what more can you ask for in life? I look at them now and I’m not ashamed, I’m envious.
Where did my brains come from? My parents. And hopefully I’ve learned enough from them that someday I’ll be as successful as they are.