10 signs you’re a highly intelligent person who is underachieving in life

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Intelligence is a blessing, but it can also be a burden.

Being smart doesn’t necessarily mean you will succeed in your career, love life and goals, in fact it can often mean the opposite. 

This goes against a lot of commonly held stereotypes about smart people being the future rulers of society or intelligence being highly valued in society. 

While that may be true in some cases and industries, intelligence on the personal and professional level can often get lost in translation. 

I know smart people who are dating someone they can barely hold a conversation with. I know intelligent folks who have jobs where they babysit everyone else and are bored out of their mind, but they aren’t sure what else to do or where else they could work.

If you sometimes feel like your brains aren’t paying off the way they should, this article is for you. 

Here are the top indications that you’re extremely smart but you’re also falling below your potential in life. 

1) You’re at a job where your knowledge and skills are barely used

Very few people graduate high school and end up right in the perfect job, but some folks are luckier than others. 

If you are in a job that does not challenge you intellectually then there is a good chance that you are simply too smart for it.

Other warning signs in this regard include that your attempts to offer ideas and contributions to leadership are ignored. 

You feel overlooked in terms of what you could be doing, and you wish you had somewhere more fulfilling to use your talents.

2) You try to start interesting conversations but friends go blank on you

Another sign that your potential in terms of your intelligence is being wasted, is that when you try to start deep conversations with friends and those around you they simply are not usually very interested. 

You may find that other folks are sharing their interests and Thoughts with you and you try to offer your interest, but this is not often reciprocated.

In fact, you often end up feeling like you are speaking into a void, because when you offer your insights and breakthroughs people don’t get it or don’t understand why it is important.

You start to wonder if you are just talking nonsense or something. The truth is that your ideas may just be over a lot of people’s heads.

3) You settle for relationships where you don’t feel truly engaged 

When it comes to your relationships, you find that you often feel like you have to settle. 

You are with partners who you do not really connect with on an intellectual level and you often get genuinely bored. It is not for lack of effort, however, and you make a real effort to reach out and connect over whatever you can and also doing activities together. 

But overall you simply do not feel intellectually or even emotionally all that engaged by many of those you date.

4) Your goals and beliefs are misunderstood by close friends and family

Friends and family care about us and love us but they do not necessarily understand us. 

As somebody who thinks out of the box and seeks to understand life at a deeper level, this is something you likely understand all too well, unfortunately. 

Your ideas about society, religion, philosophy or even just how to live life and navigate this crazy world, are often misunderstood even by people who care a lot about you. 

They simply do not grasp the way that you look at things or may even feel that some predictions you make are outlandish or unlikely. 

A few years later when such predictions come true they may be slightly chagrined, however they still maintain that bit of distance where they simply don’t quite fully get you. 

5) You think all the time about changing your situation but rarely act

Being smart does not mean that you are an effective human being. 

One of the things about being quite intelligent is that your analytical ability and ability to perceive and think about situations, people, places and ideas, does not necessarily correspond to your willingness or ability to take action. 

We have all heard about the smart individual who ends up stuck in over analysis and becomes quite self-isolated. This is not just a stereotype but is a reality of many of those who live too much in their heads. 

They have really bright ideas and insights, but they don’t actually bring them to bear in the real world, at least not often and fully enough.

This ties into the next point… 

6) You are stuck on criticism and analysis of society instead of action-oriented

There is a lot wrong with modern society, and if you are smart and insightful you are going to notice that.

From technology addiction and social isolation to environmental devastation and global conflict, you find that you are able to deftly analyze and understand many of the crises and situations grouping humanity. 

You can also relate these analyses to people and situations right around you and have brilliant insights.

However, your ability to criticize on the macro and micro level does not correspond to your understanding or willingness of what to actually do about it. 

This can leave you in a rather abstract position where you feel disempowered and end up not tapping into your full potential because you are spending too much time in your head.

7) You often start new hobbies or courses that you love, but give up quickly

Being intelligent often corresponds to sharp rises of inspiration and activity followed by a lull and loss of motivation. Put simply, it is hard for smart people to motivate themselves. 

This can often be seen in situations where you start a project or new hobby and are very into it for a few days, but you find that it is difficult for you to apply the long-term effort and dedication to it.

Consequently, you end up letting it go.

Speaking of this…

8) You have brilliant ideas in many areas but a lot of trouble staying motivated

Part of the reason that it is difficult to stay motivated is because many people do not quite understand you and you sometimes feel alone

For this reason, it is hard to know exactly how your ideas fit into society or how to enact them in a practical way. 

This can sometimes lead to staying in your head rather than putting ideas into action. 

This is one of the big challenges of being a very smart person is translating complex ideas and insights into actionable steps. 

9) You feel tied to care for others who rely on you even though it holds you back

Being smart does not exempt to you from the realities of life, and there may be others who rely on you. 

Whether this is children, romantic partners or the duties of your day-to-day job, this can definitely stop your time and energy from other pursuits that you want to commit to. 

Because of this you find that you don’t have time or feel that you don’t have time to pursue what you really want to do and express some of your better insights and ambitions in the real world.

10) Your unorthodox ideas leave you worried that you won’t be accepted, so you self-censor

Because you tend to be misunderstood and have difficulty communicating some of your ideas, you sometimes self-censor. 

This means that rather than express or advocate for your better ideas, you leave them on the shelf. 

You feel sure that other people will not get them anyway and you do not want to waste your time on endeavors or pitches that will not play out well or be supported.

Smart, dedicated, and ready to rock

Intelligence is a gift, but it needs to be used. 

If you’ve read the signs above and found that you are living far under your potential, it’s time to suit up and put the pedal to the medal. 

Now is the time to truly value yourself and seek more from your job, your relationships and – most importantly – yourself. 

Make it happen. You have the power, and the smarts to build a life you can be proud of that others want to be part of, too.

You’re already on your way. Even if you don’t feel like you belong and sometimes feel totally misunderstood, don’t give up.

Just keep going and keep seeking better and better opportunities, or create them yourself. 

As the author Ross Caligiuri memorably puts it:

“If you feel like you don’t fit into this world, it is because you were born to create a new one.”

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