Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: But You're So Smart: On Brandenn Bremmer and Self-Imposed Pressure

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

But You're So Smart: On Brandenn Bremmer and Self-Imposed Pressure

Actually, I can swap "smart" for "confident", "tough", "independent," or another one of my many strengths. However, strengths don't mean the absence of weaknesses.
"Smart" doesn't mean I never feel incompetent.
"Confident" doesn't mean I never feel out of place.
"Tough" doesn't mean I never feel weak.
"Independent" doesn't mean I never feel ostracized. 

As the image text states, Brandenn Bremmer was a genius--had an IQ of 178, read books at 18 months old, played the piano at age 3, and started college at age 11--who committed suicide at age 14 with no (known) depression, suicide note, or pressure to achieve from his parents. This is why I never understand why people wish they were smarter or why some parents put undue pressure on gifted children or leave them to their own devices. This source said that he was compelled to do so because his intuition told him to leave the world. However, another source which cites a dubious comment from someone named "Stan" extrapolates on how pressure to achieve may have been to blame although his parents were said by other sources to never have pressured him to achieve.

However, self-imposed pressure is a powerful thing. The pressure to achieve does not have to come externally to do harm. Internally-based pressure can do just as much harm, if not more. In a world that values intrinsic motivation, it is easy to ignore unhealthy levels of self-imposed pressure to achieve. I know what self-imposed pressure can do because I almost succumbed to its effects. I decided to drop out of my school's honors institute because it was not for me. Although I "could have been" capable of meeting the standards, it cost me my health and my grades. Self-imposed pressure made my grades drop by 20% of what they originally were. Not only did my grades suffer, but I suffered. I felt constant stress, felt tired all the time, and got very bad cases of acid reflux that have since went away now that I have (mostly) escaped self-imposed pressure. 

Being "so smart" does not mean that someone like Brandenn or myself cannot succumb to pressures both external and internal. This is not to say that I am against challenging one's self, but it should not come at the expense of one's health. Remember that academic intelligence does not equal emotional development. That comes with experience and experience alone. I am impulsive and stubborn. I need experience to hone my temperament. I usually end up doggedly finishing projects I should not have started. Now that the consequences have caught up to me, I want to warn others of the dangers of self-imposed pressure. If you feel like you are drowning in a sea of activities, academics, and other things, get out. If you genuinely feel happier with a thousand things to do, do them.

Please do not disregard the power of self-imposed pressure. It is not easily dismissed as what someone else says because this comes from within. Unhealthy self-imposed pressure is a parasite that feeds off of your energy and directs your reserves towards achievement while ravaging your health and happiness in the process. I am not against achievement or talent, but I am against the imposition of unnecessary pressure regardless of the source. I believe that it is self-imposed pressure that killed Brandenn Bremmer, almost killed me, and is a source of problems among many gifted students.

Optional Comment Questions

  • Have you ever wished yourself to be more intelligent? 
  • Can you relate to my experiences? 
  • Do you have any further insight on Brandenn Bremmer's case?
Use the tags #NotJustAProdigy and #GiftedLivesMatter to raise awareness of mental wellness among gifted individuals. 

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