When you think of smart, what do you think of?
For most, it's mathematicians or physicists or doctors or engineers or, really, anything involving math or science. Of course, those professions certainly require a great deal of knowledge, and the people who succeed in those professions are certainly intelligent. The problem is that people outside of those professions are often considered to be less intelligent. In fact, I've even heard individuals say, "Oh, I couldn't do that. I'm not very smart." Or, my personal favorite, "I'm just not very good at anything."
Well, I'm here to tell you that you are good at something. Actually, you're good at many things, and you're knowledgeable in many ways.
You may not have done well in that chemistry lab, but you've likely made up for it in another class. Maybe it's art or history or English or a foreign language course. Maybe you got a mediocre grade in your writing class, but you excelled in communications. Maybe you're terrible at trigonometry, but you know your stuff when it comes to political science. There's a reason why so many different majors are offered in college: No one is expected to be interested in the exact same things.
And, generally, that's what it comes down to. Your aptitude for certain subjects is often determined by your level of interest in those subjects. During my sophomore year in college, astronomy was the death of me. I had liked the idea of constellations and the phases of the moon, but when it came to the physics of it all and the different types of telescopes, I was toast. I probably could have done better in the course, but I wasn't interested enough to put in the time required to succeed. But when it comes to English, I could spend all day writing or reading, and I wouldn't get bored.
But, see, knowledge isn't only acquired between the walls of a classroom. Not attending a higher institution doesn't make you stupid.
I don't know anything (and I mean anything) about farming. But farming is one of the most necessary professions. How else would we get our food? Farmers hold a lot more knowledge than we give them credit for.
And what about retailers or, really, anyone dealing with people on a regular basis? Their success is often determined by their ability to communicate effectively with others. Possession of strong social skills is a type of knowledge in itself.
Maybe you know how to entertain children. Maybe you know the best places to eat in a particular city. Maybe you know how to make the best quiche anyone has ever tasted. Maybe you know how to navigate the subway system in New York City. Maybe you know basketball or fashion or music or cars or beer or gardening or weightlifting. Maybe you know that the kid you nanny for prefers to have the crust cut off his sandwiches. Maybe you can tell a Pinot Noir from a Cabernet just by tasting it.
My point is, we are all knowledgeable in some capacity. We will always know things that others don't, and there will always be things we don't know. Just because you aren't good at writing or algebra or biology or statistics doesn't make you stupid. It's like Albert Einstein says in one of my favorite quotes: "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Of course, it's important to be curious -- to ask questions and acknowledge that there is always room for new knowledge and perspectives. But don't forget to embrace what you do know. The real stupidity lies in thinking you know nothing.