One time I was in a fight with my boyfriend. Etched into my memory is him standing a few stairs above me yelling, “You over-analyze everything! All those graduate degrees made you into someone who thinks too much!”
It can be searing to be criticized for your Native Genius. But less so when you have some ways to weather the storm and come out on your own side.
What hurt about his comment is that he knew how much I cherished what I had studied. I mustered a deep truth and yelled back, “Those graduate degrees didn’t make me this way. I did those degrees because I am this way!”
I stood strongly by my own side and did not apologize for who I am and how my Native Genius works. I claimed myself. This moment was a triumph, but not all are. My feelings are still hurt sometimes when I feel teased or criticized for my deep thinking that others sometimes consider overthinking — and at times, even I recognize it as such.
Each of us is bound to overuse or misuse our Native Genius at times. That’s the nature of Native Genius — it’s insistent. It’s like a flower growing through concrete. That’s its blessing, and sometimes its curse. Because Native Genius is so insistent in us, it can be tricky to regulate when it’s doing good, and when it’s overdone.
In graduate school, one of my professors shared a profound conversation she’d had with a Chinese sage named Tsu. She asked Tsu, “What is evil?” He answered, “Evil is the fingerprint of beauty pressed a moment too long.” That pierces my heart every time I think of it, and opens a world of insight for me.
Sometimes we go too far and the positive becomes its opposite. Tsu’s answer poetically points to the law of diminishing returns. It’s up to each of us to regulate when we’re going too far. And the people around us can help — but our besties need to love us still, and love us for what’s insistent in us — our Native Genius.
Yes, I had the presence of mind to break up with that boyfriend shortly after the fight. No, we’re not friends now. What about the man who became my husband? Does my deep thinking sometimes wear him out? Yes. But he doesn’t use it to criticize me during a fight. More than anything, he celebrates and adores that part of me.
Much of your beauty and contributions are in the actions you do that you barely notice you do. The vast majority of the time, you’re not overusing or misusing them, and they’re making a bigger impact than you realize. Surround yourself with people and activities who value your Native Genius. No one would criticize a bunny for hopping too much, or a spider for spinning too many webs.
Stand by your own side, dear bunny.