It’s amazing what the right people speaking to you in the wrong way will do to shift how you not only view yourself but function. I’ve been in a job where people talk to me as if they think I am cognitively impaired (based on how they perceive cognitive impairment, not how I perceive it or the vast types and natures of cognitive impairment). The thing is, I didn’t even notice.
And granted, I have ADHD and PTSD so I certainly have trouble focusing and other challenges that affect the cognitive process. I don’t think having these challenges makes a person unintelligent and I have always been placed in gifted classes and excelled academically so I know from experience cognitive impairments or conditions and intelligence are not exclusive concepts. Despite that, I opened up about some of my issues and it was like blood in the water for sharks. Suddenly every time there was an issue or a mistake, it came back to me and, ironically, *always* had to do with my something that might be attributed to one of my conditions. It was pervasive and constant and even now, I am not sure it was undeserved. I question if maybe I have been able to fool everybody into thinking I am a harder worker than I am, maybe more consistent, more talented, or far more intelligent than I am.
It has gotten to the point where if enough people from one group do it, you question how it could possibly be all of them and not you? Occam’s razor, right? Simplest explanation is typically the most likely and what’s more likely: a handful of people think I am a complete idiot and drain on the team and they are being unfair, or they are right? Right is the simplest answer and I’m still not convinced it isn’t *the* answer.
It has gotten so stifling that I, an extremely motivated person, have just wanted to avoid the environment all together. I think often how I have a history of not meeting my own standards, health issues, and now this, so it couldn’t possibly be anything other than me. I feel like a parasite with nothing to offer and as if my strengths have been mythologized by somebody (me) who can deliver nothing other than big promises and ideas but isn’t capable of actualizing them.
Then today I was organizing some things and came across the most recent cognitive testing I had through a psychiatrist to justify continuing my ADHD diagnosis. This person did not know me outside of the session, had never met me before, and only observed my performance during a 6 hour period of testing and questioning. I will admit, it is a huge comfort to see it given how I have felt about myself but this isn’t to brag so much as to show how starkly different a professional’s assessment is from office gossip, despite the latter having significantly greater weight on how I perceive my own abilities.
*These scores were based on the range of scores for women of my age at the I took it (I believe it also controlled for some other factors but forget).
Verbal Comprehension: composite score 136, 99th percentile
Perceptual Reasoning: composite score: 109, 73rd percentile
Working memory: composite score 117, 87th percentile
Processing speed: composite score 105, 63rd percentile
Full Scale IQ: composite score 121, 92nd percentile (his range topped at 124 because they can’t be entirely accurate)
121 IQ, depending on the scale you use, is labelled either gifted, superior intellect, or above average intelligence. I was given my first IQ test (that I remember) as early as 9 and this test is consistent with all of the assessments I have had in the last 20 years. Before I saw this, I felt like trash to be thrown away because I have nothing to offer the world and can only be a drain on it. I still feel that way but the rational part of me checks that a little.
Long story short: if enough people think the same thing about you, it starts to echo and amplify to a point that it drowns out everything else, including more reliable evidence that suggests the opposite. It’s still hard not to buy into it but if you feel like you’re losing your grip on what you think you’re capable of doing, pause for a second and try to find another reliable, unbiased source of information before you accept the verdict you’re about to drop on yourself.