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You could say that there are plenty of not-so-bright people walking around, but it’s not that there are so many of them, it’s just that they are usually the loudest. There are a lot of extremely intelligent people out there, but they simply don’t advertise the fact that they are smart. It comes naturally to them, and they try to live their lives freely and without consciously drawing attention to themselves. You can call it modesty or plain old good manners, but these people tend to look and sound quite average until they surprise you with a gem of wisdom. Here are some of the tell-tale signs which show that you might be one smart cookie, without appearing so.
You’re a night owl
As recent research suggests, those who prefer to stay up late, and do their best work at night, average higher IQ scores than morning people. That being said, staying up late won’t magically hack your brain into being smarter – smarter people are just more likely to work and party during the night, and sleep in. While all your friends are fast asleep, you are browsing the web for information, reading, learning to play the guitar and finishing up different projects – since this happens behind the scenes, your knowledge and skills will often be a surprise to people.
You’re the silent type
You’ll find plenty of misconceptions about quiet people, e.g. being labeled as introverts, socially awkward and so on. This isn’t necessarily true, and while not all quiet people are necessarily smart, highly intelligent people will often refrain from speaking if they are accessing a situation. They will take some time to think about what was said and prepare an adequate response, and they find silence better than pointless small talk.
You face your problems
You may find yourself facing a bunch of difficult problems, but a smart person won’t let those bring them down. A very smart person will know how to prioritize and deal with problems as they arise before things even get a chance to start spinning out of control. If you are the type of person who faces problems and welcomes challenges, always dancing on the age of your comfort zone, chances are that you are fairly intelligent.
You hang out with smart and creative people
The company you keep is a good reflection of who you are as a person. Exceptionally smart people will tend to hang out with people like them, i.e. smart, creative and cultured. There are always some exceptions, but if about 80% of the people in your life are intelligent and interesting, you probably fit that description as well.
You strive for perfection
There might not be anything that hints at great intelligence in your appearance or speech, the way you conduct yourself is an excellent indicator. Intelligent people always strive for perfection, so each time you see them you’ll be able to notice a few small improvements. They are always a bit different than before. This perfectionist mentality is applied to all aspects of life, from trying to look their best or working on being a great speaker, to spending hours practicing their golf swing or dart throw.
You tend to be quite self-critical
There are plenty of narcissists out there who sometimes lie to themselves and others about how good they are at something, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone being self-critical and accepting critique. Although someone might not be actively trying to impress and come off as smart, the ability to acknowledge one’s own faults and the willingness to work on correcting them can give their intelligence away.
Read more: When you lie, your brain and body suffer!
You like to stay informed
Intelligent people like to be up to date with the latest development in a number of different fields, always trying to improve themselves bit by bit. A smart person will stay up to date with local and global news, as well as try to learn all he or she can about topics that are directly related to their life or are interesting to them. Gathering information, learning new things and developing useful skills is a lifelong goal for highly intelligent people, and they will always have a way of keeping themselves busy.
You’re constantly occupied with tons of different projects
Speaking of keeping busy, a good indicator that you are dealing with a very smart person is the fact that they always have a few projects that they are working on. They might be brushing up on their French and learning a few useful Mandarin phrases, reading up on DIY home repairs, taking dancing lessons, working on some new recipes in the kitchen, or compiling a book on early medieval architecture. While a lot of people like to keep busy, a smart person will fill their free time with activities that help them improve in one way or another. Not all smart people are very productive, but it can be a good indicator of higher intellect.
You ask all the right questions
When talking to a smart person who doesn’t blow his or her own horn, you’ll notice that they don’t try to hijack the conversation or start long monologs. They will actually sit there quietly and listen to what you have to say, allowing for a few moments of silence here and there as they think things over. However, once they ask a question it really hits the spot. They actually give helpful advice or even get you to come to the right conclusions on your own. If your friends enjoy talking to you and tell you that you are a good listener, you are probably a good friend and an intelligent one at that.
You don’t think that you are exceptionally smart
Due to something called the Dunning-Kruger effect people with a low level of competence will tend to overestimate their abilities, whereas highly competent people will tend to sell themselves short. This is due to the fact that the more intelligent, informed and skilled you are, the more you realize just how much space there is to further improve and you are not satisfied with your current knowledge or skill level.
True intelligence cannot really be hidden away or masked effectively, nor is this the point of exceptionally smart people who appear seemingly normal. They wear their intelligence proudly, but they don’t flaunt it, although these ten signs are a dead giveaway.
This piece was first published in Life Hacks.