Diversity at its best — celebrating intellectual differences

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Alice Yu

albert einstein genius

[quote cite=”Albert Einstein, Self Portrait”]What is significant in one’s own existence one is hardly aware, and it certainly should not bother the other fellow. What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life? [/quote]

Written by Einstein in an essay titled, Self Portrait, this statement may be more commonly referenced in another form. The more popular quote, “everybody is a genius, but if you judge a goldfish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” lacks sufficient evidence that proves Einstein actually said such words, but it might have been adapted from what Einstein wrote in Self Portrait.

Both statements emphasize the point that just because someone is unfamiliar with elements that come naturally to you, he or she isn’t necessarily on a different mental level than you. Everyone has different skills and experiences and there isn’t and shouldn’t be one universal grading scale that rates the importance of each skill or experience.

When I was younger, my mother taught me this lesson with the “ten-points” theory. Let’s say that everybody in this world has ten points. Someone-let’s call him Joe-is a star baseball player, so that takes up four of his points. He might also have great social skills-taking up two points. Joe also admits his mistakes and takes responsibility for them, so he gets one point for that. He isn’t too shabby with his school work, so the rest of his 3 points gets split up into three subjects; let’s just say history, science and math. Notice how there are some aspects of life that Joe didn’t get any points for, such as his musical talents or the ability to cook.

Now let’s go over to Joe’s friend, Tom. Tom is a natural with computers. He’s won computer programming competitions and knows the insides of a computer as well as he knows how to breathe. His skills in computer sciences deserve a total of six points. He also excels in school, so school work gets three points. Tom’s last point belongs to his considerate personality.

Joe and Tom are both distinguished in different subjects, but that doesn’t mean that one’s better than the other. They both have things that they’re great at and things that they’re horrible at and that’s okay. Everybody’s 10 points is diverse and so stacking yourself up to others isn’t a very fair competition.

If you can’t perform a task better than someone else, that doesn’t mean you’re an inadequate person. You’re just deficient at performing that one task. On the flip side, if someone can’t do something as well as you can, that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t incapable either.

Everyone is smart in his or her own way, so judging them by one part of who they are or by how they compare to you is an impossible and pointless task. It’s okay to be diverse and different and it’s okay to be bad at something, because you’ll always have something that you excel at.
Written by Alice Yu