I constantly doubt my intelligence, or if I’m intelligent at all. Graduating with honors from pre-school to college would suggest that I may be intelligent. But that could also mean I’m just good at studying.

We all know for a fact that getting a degree does not equate intelligence because of dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. I also know that some people who finished their postgraduate studies are blithering idiots. Their stupidity is just harder to pinpoint because they dress better and know a lot of fancy words. How then do we know who’s smart and who’s stupid if we’re not going to base it on titles or degrees?

In high school, I thought I was intelligent because my grammar is better than most. I had no respect for my classmates who were good at subjects that are based on memorization like history or biology. I had some respect for people who were good at math. But they had to pair that skill with good grammar for me to consider them intelligent. I was so full of myself.

And then I met people who were incredibly smart but their grammar just sucked. Sucked! Like, grammar sticklers would be spazzing if they met this person. They were analytical and inventive but god when they were wrote, you could mistake them for jejemons. I was amazed that there are people like that. And when I started writing, I realized that my grammar sucked too. Yikes! There goes my confidence.

I got really into philosophy when I was in college. I started questioning a lot of my beliefs. Maybe it was the environment. Maybe it was because I was reading a lot of Ayn Rand. I wanted to make sense of the world and philosophy offered a structured and seemingly mature way of doing that. As a teenager, it was liberating to feel like you have some sort of control over your intellectual development. It was empowering being subversive—sticking it to The Man.

I welcomed discussions on ideas. I shut people down when they’re being illogical, especially the religious because their arguments are always fallacious. I thought that being able to reason out your principle made you smart. I was all “Yeah, this is what Socrates and Aristotle did! I feel so smart spewing all these words: existentialism, federalism, communism and whatever isms are out there.”

But I tired of philosophy. The structure that I loved before feels so limiting now. It’s so abstract. When you try to explain current events based on some vague philosophical idea, it seems so irrelevant. It’s like the world is telling you it is one big fallacy. That in the real world, philosophy doesn’t count for shit.

I’m no longer into what most people would consider an intellectual endeavor. I don’t religiously follow current events. I can’t quip on the state of Philippine politics because I find it so depressing. I’m not seeking higher education. I don’t read as many books as I did when I was a teenager.

I’m into watching a lot of movies and TV series. I’m into dressing up. I’m into taking selfies. I’m into traveling and eating. And I’m into reading articles about all of those things. Some people may think that all these things are shallow or superficial because they choose to only see that layer, because they think there’s nothing more to it. These people are stupid.

Movies and TV series are stupid if you only watch the stupid ones. There are tons of movies that are beautifully-written, well-acted and a microcosm of social and/or political situations that it’s trying to capture. I probably would’ve aced history if they made us watch historical movies the entire time. Why wasn’t there an exam on Schindler’s List, 300 or Life Is Beautiful? When done well, a great movie or series can teach you about life like nothing else will.

Fashion is stupid? Fashion is a form of self-expression. Fashion is a reflection of a culture and a period of time. There’s a history of women’s swimsuits with a direct relation to the oppression and liberation of women. Do you remember that scene in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire where Katniss twirled during her interview and her wedding dress turned into a mockingjay? Fashion can start a revolution.

“I design clothes because I don’t want women to look all innocent and naive… I want women to look stronger… I don’t like women to be taken advantage of…I don’t like men whistling at women in the street. I think they deserve more respect. I like men to keep their distance from women, I like men to be stunned by an entrance. I’ve seen a woman get nearly beaten to death by her husband. I know what misogyny is… I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.” -Alexander McQueen

Bow down.

Selfies. A lot of people hate selfies. A lot of people apologize for taking selfies. Some people think that selfies are indicative of cultural decline because it shows how conceited people are. Well most people ARE conceited, even before the invention of a front-facing camera. That’s why we created god in our image. But religious people want to think it’s the other way around. Selfies are just a natural evolution of our self-involvement. And like most things, there’s an intellectual side to that as well.

These “superficial” things have made me feel that I’m not half as smart as I think I am. (That’s a quote from young Olive Penderghast if you have watched Easy A multiple times.) But that feeling stemmed from having allowed other people to make me feel that the things I like are stupid. And I’m stupid for letting them do that.

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