8 Struggles of Being A Highly Intelligent Person

Intelligence is a complex, multi-dimensional construct that can mean a variety of things for a variety of different people, so it can be hard to put into words what it all means. There have been plenty of psychologists over the years who have tried to define it – in terms of problem-solving, processing speed, rational thinking, abstract reasoning, or even memory and recall. But no matter what definition you may adhere to, there’s one thing all of us can agree on: you know intelligence when you see it.

A highly intelligent person is someone who’s gifted at analyzing concepts and building upon them to form a better understanding of the world and those around them, how everything is connected, and why things are the way they are.  These people often have remarkably high IQs, academic achievements, and go on to become successful leaders and trailblazers in their fields (Azuma & Kashiwagi, 2007).

While it’s easy to think that highly intelligent people have it all, that’s simply not true, as there are also faced with certain problems and challenges that only they can relate to. Having said that, if you consider yourself a highly intelligent person, here are 8 struggles only highly intelligent people will understand:

1. You Get Bored with Small Talk

Highly intelligent people aren’t very interested in the unimportant details of life. They don’t really care about the weather, or this week’s sports game, or what their next door neighbor is up to nowadays. Rather, they like to discuss matters of science, politics, philosophy, art, and literature. They like to think in terms of deep, abstract, and thought-provoking ideas, so to them, small talk can feel a lot like a dull and exhausting waste of their time.

2. You’re Careful With Your Words

Something a lot of smart people have in common is that they usually think more than they speak. They’re introspective and thoughtful individuals who like to take their time in forming conclusions or opinions. They’ll rarely ever share what they’re thinking before they’ve considered it from every possible angle and made certain of their judgments. While this can make them more insightful than most, it can also make other people feel uncomfortable with their silences and unsettled by their taciturn nature – which leads us to our next point!

3. You’re Socially Awkward

There’s a common stereotype surrounding highly intelligent people that most of them are socially awkward “nerds” who don’t fit in with the popular kids at school, and while this is certainly an exaggeration, it’s also not entirely untrue. In fact, studies show that people who have a high IQ tend to have a lower EQ, or emotional intelligence – a trait that helps us form relationships and hone our social skills (Davidson, 2015).

4. You Struggle To Make Friends

If you’re a highly intelligent person, then you probably haven’t had the easiest time making friends and fitting in with others. Intelligence can be incredibly intimidating for some people, and when we feel that someone is “too smart for us”, we find it hard to relate to them. This is why a lot of highly intelligent people struggle to make friends and feel as if they need to “dumb themselves down” for other people to accept them. They gravitate towards like-minded individuals and want to be surrounded by other highly intelligent people, but unfortunately, they’re a rare and hard-to-find breed (Azuma & Kashiwagi, 2007).

5. You Don’t Have a Lot of Fun

Because highly intelligent people struggle to make friends and engage in everyday conversations, they’re not exactly social butterflies. They don’t attend a lot of parties or go on spontaneous adventures, because they focus so heavily on their academics and throw themselves so wholeheartedly into their work. High-achievers struggle to have a well-balanced life, and their perfectionism puts them at risk of overwork, unhappiness, and low self-esteem (Hany, 1996).

6. You’re Too Analytical

Have you ever heard of “paralysis from analysis”? This something a lot of highly intelligent people struggle with, and it happens when your need to always know the right answer or to make the best decision becomes crippling. Highly intelligent people will always weigh all the pros and cons before they make a decision, but ironically enough, it can end up making them more indecisive (Kanazawa, 2012).

7. You’re Easily Bored

Being a highly intelligent person means you crave constant intellectual stimulation. You always want to do something that challenges you or makes you think, which is why doing simple, everyday tasks can be such a drag for you. Once you learn how to solve a problem or gain mastery over something, anything that was once exciting now becomes ordinary and uninteresting for you.

8. You’re Pressured to Succeed

Finally, with great intelligence often comes great expectations. If you’re a highly intelligent person, everyone around you is surely putting immense pressure on you to succeed. Once other people notice your exceptional smarts, you might feel the need to always prove to them how intelligent you are all the time, which can be hard on your self-esteem and worsen your perfectionist tendencies and unhealthy fear of failure (Getzels & Jackson, 2011).

Being smart isn’t always a piece of cake. It can be hard sometimes, not to feel like you’re trapped by your intelligence. Other people will constantly try to define you by it, and some might never be able to look past it and see you for who you really are, which can make you feel alone and disconnected from those around you.


  • Azuma, H., & Kashiwagi, K. (2007). Descriptors for an Intelligent Person. Japanese Psychological Research, 29 (1); 17-26.
  • Davidson, H. H. (2015). A Study on the Personality of Highly Intelligent Children. Journal of Developmental Psychology, 19 (8); 178-186.
  • Hany, E. A. (1996). How Leisure Activities Correspond to the Development of Creative Achievement: Insights From A Study of Highly Intelligent Individuals. High Ability Studies, 7 (1); 65-82.
  • Kanazawa, S. (2012). The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn’t Always the Smart One. New York: Wiley.
  • Getzels, J. W., & Jackson, P. W. (2011). Family Environment and Cognitive Styles: A Study on Highly Intelligent and Highly Creative Adolescents. American Sociological Review, 6 (15); 351-359.

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