8 subtle signs you’re an exceptionally intelligent person

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Most of us aren’t going to win the Nobel Prize in Physics or Chemistry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptionally intelligent people among us.

In fact, intelligence is rarely only about your ability to solve mathematical equations. It is so much more complex than that.

Are you smarter than you give yourself credit for?

Here are the 8 subtle signs you’re an exceptionally intelligent person.

1) You have an innate sense of curiosity

If you’re a smart cookie, it means you are so deeply curious about the world that you simply always want to know more.

After all, intelligence isn’t just an inborn trait. It’s also a result of research, experience, and practice.

Are you prone to going down rabbit holes of research on random topics, from dinosaurs or prehistory to cars and succulents? 

Do you look at the world around you and ask yourself questions in the same way a four-year-old child would? 

“What kind of a tree is this and that? Why does the temperature drop on a cloudless day in winter? Where does my rubbish go?”

In the 21st century, it’s never been easier to satisfy your curiosity and learn new information. Google’s right there at your fingertips.

All you have to do is ask.

2) You have so many interests you struggle to devote yourself to a single one

What’s the result of insane curiosity?

Having more interests than you know what to do with. 

Let me tell you about my friend Greg. The first thing you should know about Greg is that he’s insanely smart. The second thing is that he can’t figure out what to do with his life because he’s so multi-talented.

I know, I know. He has it so hard, right? Poor Greg. Truly.

For Greg, though, this is a real struggle. He’s incredibly musically talented, but he also excels at linguistics, teaching, chemistry, history, graphic design, and DIY.

Oh, and he makes cracking coffee.

How the hell is he supposed to know what his purpose in life is when he has so many hobbies and passions? Where is he supposed to get all that time?

If you can relate, it’s a sign you’re an exceptionally intelligent person, too.

3) You can quickly wrap your head around complex concepts

When Greg and I were in school, I would always struggle with Math. I just couldn’t keep up with our teacher’s speed and all the different numbers she was drawing on the board. 

Sooner or later, she lost me.

Luckily, I had Greg, who often disliked the methods our teacher was using and preferred to solve the problem on his own terms.

Yes, that’s right. Not only did he understand the concepts but he also knew how to come up with his own methods that made more sense. 

It’s safe to say I passed Math largely thanks to Greg and his guidance. Oh, and speaking of which…

4) You can explain complicated problems in simple terms

A great way to recognize whether someone’s truly intelligent or if they’re just posturing is to ask them for advice.

Do they actually understand what they’re talking about? 

Let’s find out. If they can approach a complicated problem from a laic’s perspective and explain it to you in a way you can understand, it signals they are, in fact, a smart cookie.

And if they’re patient and empathetic as they’re teaching you the basics, it means they aren’t just smart – they’re also emotionally intelligent.

5) You display a lot of empathy

According to research, intelligence is correlated with prosocial behavior and empathy. This is because EQ – emotional intelligence – is an integral part of intelligence overall.

If you haven’t heard the term EQ before, it’s essentially the ability to understand and handle emotions. It comprises of five factors:

  • Empathy
  • Self-regulation
  • Social skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation

Of course, you can score high on IQ tests and low on EQ tests, but if you excel at both, you’ve basically won the lottery.

Highly empathetic people can place themselves in another person’s shoes, form deep connections, and explore the rich intensity of their inner emotional worlds.

6) You can keep your calm

How do you act when you’re really angry or frustrated? Do you let your emotions swallow you whole, flipping out at people and getting into fights?

Or do you self-soothe, find healthy outlets for your feelings, and manage to calm down?

The latter is the foundation of emotional self-regulation, which is another vital component of EQ. 

Yes, that’s right. Intelligence isn’t just about solving complex mathematical problems. It’s also about controlling your emotions and embracing emotional maturity.

Unfortunately, these core skills aren’t taught in most schools, which means that many people struggle to self-regulate and communicate effectively.

If you don’t let your emotions get the best of you, though…

Congratulations! You may be exceptionally intelligent.

7) You have a strong sense of self

The next sign on our list is… self-awareness!

“What are you talking about? We’re all self-aware. That’s what makes us human,” you might say.

While that statement is correct, the level of self-awareness you have might completely differ from the person you passed on the street yesterday.

In EQ terms, self-awareness relates to your ability to self-retrospect, admit your weaknesses, constantly re-discover yourself in new ways, and construct a strong sense of self.

In other words, it means you aren’t in denial about who you are as a person. 

Your view of yourself accurately mirrors reality and you continually put in the effort to improve yourself, be it by journaling, learning new skills, or being radically honest with yourself.

8) You worry a lot

Strange, right? I mean, why would highly intelligent people worry more than the average person? What’s the connection here?

Well, think of it this way. Smart people are constantly thinking about something, and the more they think, the more likely they are to spiral into obsessive worrying.

Not only that but their high levels of self-awareness may lead to stress and feeling self-conscious (since they are putting more pressure on themselves with regard to academic or work performance, for instance) while their empathetic abilities could turn them into emotional sponges, soaking in the feelings of everyone around them.

Yeah. It’s a lot.

What can I say? Even intelligence has a cost. The best things in life are never free, right?

Our time together has come to an end, which means it’s your turn to count how many of the above-mentioned signs apply to you. 

If you’ve scored all eight… 

Wow! You’re probably exceptionally intelligent. Congratulations! May you use your smart-cookie superpower wisely.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

10 traits of an emotionally unavailable woman, according to psychology

If you recognize these 10 behaviors, you’re dealing with a non-conformist