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It came to my attention that many people have commented that I’m ‘smart’, ‘talented’ or that I’m a ‘fast learner’. I’m not trying to brag here; I’m just saying that throughout my years in school and in the workplace and even now on certain social media sites, this observation has been directed at me more times than I can recount. And honestly, I’ve grown to resent it somewhat.

Oh, I’m flattered, of course. It’s praise after all, and who doesn’t like to be praised. I just wish that my hard work is recognised as much or as often. Yes, I may be smart and yes, I pick up new things quickly, but after observing people whom I’ve worked with/collaborated with/studied with over the years, I think I can claim, with no guilty twinge in my conscience, that when I put my mind to it, I work a lot harder than many people, both of the smart and not so smart variety. It’s just the way that I am, which is a consequence of my innate temperament, my upbringing, and the education that I’ve received. Ironically, in our world today where the mantra is ‘work smart, not hard’, having a personal mantra of ‘work smart AND hard’ is, well…not very smart perhaps.

We’re all creatures of habit. It’s normal and when those habits contribute to our well-being, that’s a big plus. The catch is, we’re so used to the status quo that we forget that we’re also creatures of potential. There is a limit as to how far one can go because, let’s face it, genes play a part in ability. However, I believe that there are very few people who reach their true limit in a lifetime. I have seen so many cases where people just stop or hold back when they could have achieved so much more if they just put in more effort or envision crossing the line that they have drawn in their minds. I’m not pointing fingers; there are times when I make excuses for myself too.

But generally, I put in my all when I do anything. Be it towards work, rest, or love, I have an all-or-nothing mindset. Extreme, I know, but that’s who I am. My looks and my intelligence/ability may open doors for me, but I’ll never be content to just cruise along life on those alone. To do so would be to undermine myself, and ultimately I may end up paying a very high price for my complacency.

I’m a smart woman, no doubt about it. But if you ask me now whether I’d want to be described as such, or whether I’d rather be known as ‘hardworking’, I’d take the latter label over the first any day. For if I see myself as a hardworking person, I’d never hold back on improving myself.

It’s not about learning more to get more money, more status, more property. Those are good to have, but they’re not my priorities in life. I have lost enough (friends, lovers, and even family) to know what I want in life and those are not it. It’s about challenging my mind, and acquiring knowledge and gaining understanding of the world and the people around me so that I can be a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better lover, and most importantly, a better person.

So, call me smart if you want to, but to me and (I hope) to the people who love and know me, I’m just an ordinary woman who’s always willing to go the extra mile for the people and issues that she cares about.