Smart Woman Syndrome


Ancient Map courtesy of aopsan/

How do you make a community? That is the question, isn’t it? At least here, it is.

For some people it seems so easy. I know, the popular have their insecurities, too, and I know (first hand, even) that it is possible to feel alone in a crowd, but some people do just have that uncanny knack for drawing people to them. For the rest of us, it can seem daunting.

I personally find it difficult, not only to make friends, but to keep them. And on more than one occasion I have lost close friends because a boy (who I brought into the circle) and I broke up, and my friends liked him better. Or maybe he was just better at staying in contact. Maybe he bribed them with chocolate and puppies…

Chances are, it’s the second, with maybe a dash of the first.

See, I suffer from what I call Smart Woman Syndrome (or Smart Girl Syndrome, whatever floats…). I made this up years ago, from observing that the smart women around me have a hard time coming-off as likable a fair amount of the time.

My high school boasted a generous amount of smart and fun teachers, both male and female. The student population was in fairly good consensus about the top 5 male teachers, but if you asked about the top female teachers – well, that was a much more difficult conversation. Any one female teacher nominated generated dissent. You ended up with a dozen nominations, and no actual frontrunners.

My female professors in university similarly seemed to have a harder time generating respect from the populous and in convincing their students that the subject matter was not only important, but interesting, and that classes and discussions could be fun and engaging.

I noticed my step-mother, who is smart, and professionally successful, was having a hard time getting promoted past a certain point – because she was over-qualified.

And then there was me. I’ve told you I’m too smart for my own good. And I’ve always had trouble making, and more importantly, keeping friends.

Now I’m not saying that in my case all of the issue is this Smart Woman Syndrome (honestly, it could be a real thing!) but it does seem to me that society wants us to believe that smart women are intimidating, aloof, and, generally, not in need of friendship.


Seriously, though, I’ve met smart women who have bought into this harmful propaganda. And end up hating themselves for being so smart and driving people away. What? I know!

Now I’m not saying that all smart women suffer from this issue all the time, or that if you haven’t suffered, that you’re not a smart woman, it’s just my way of simplifying a very complex issue.

Very complex. So back to the much more concrete (though still very tricksy) issue of me and friendlessness (because it’s all about me, clearly!).

Part of it is, I have the darnedest time staying in touch with people. Honestly, they should still teach correspondence in school. I hate the phone (it rings, people!), and I try not to use it unless I have something to say, or unless someone calls me. The idea of calling someone just because is weird to me. I’ve had to get over it, in my various long-distance relationships, but it’s hard.

I don’t email much, because frankly, I spend all day staring at a computer screen corporately, and it’s hard to come home and want to look at another one – which makes Facebook difficult, too.

I could write letters – I should write letters, but it seems a little weird. Not to mention outside the instant gratification methods our society values and encourages.

Which leaves face-to-face interaction.

So either you create the face-to-face time, by organizing get-togethers and events, or you only consider friends those people you naturally see regularly. Or something’s gotta give.

Comments? What do you think? How do you stay in touch?



One response to this post.

  1. so here im . at 1:32am in my country , hating myself for being too smart ..always the smart girl who make her male colleagues proud and happy to have her in their punch , and her females colleagues jealous for being so good and so smart . for having the guys attention.. its always like this attentionbut not real relationship or even love .
    searching google for a smart women syndrome ( i thought i made it up ) ..
    its not fair .. and im getting so f* mad ..
    and my heart with u .. 😦


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