People Shared Their Experiences With Really Intelligent People Who Didn’t Know How Smart They Were

It’s kind of funny when people who you think are really brilliant end up working mundane jobs.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve definitely met some folks who didn’t realize their intelligence and they also don’t realize that they could have probably worked for NASA or something.

But there’s a lot of that going on.

AskReddit users talked about people they’ve met who have no idea how smart they are.

1. Unique teachers.

“People who can easily teach others complex systems or ideas.

My husband is this person. Microbiologist, workflow management, and plays D&D on his down time. He can analyze a difficult concept, distill the relevant information, make it easily accessible to someone and teach it in a patient, unassuming manner quickly without making the other party feel stupid or uninformed.

He’s modest as hell. He has no idea how hard it is to educate people. Never trying to one-up or show off his knowledge. He’s charismatic and emotionally intelligent.

Honestly has no idea how rare his level of kindness and intelligence are in others. He’s the best person I’ve ever met.”

2. You lucked out.

“My spouse.

Very intelligent, can manage really complex spatial stuff and think through mechanical problems in ways I definitely can’t. Great with computers and pattern recognition and thinking creatively about how to solve problems.

High school dropout and probably a fifth grade reading level due to severe and inadequately treated dyslexia and dyscalculia.

I’m a physician and work with many people with less natural processing ability than my spouse has.”

3. A different kind of smart.

“I work in manufacturing so we get a lot of uneducated people. There are a lot of people out there who are smart but for various reasons weren’t properly served by the public schools.

They might be barely literate, or can hardly string two words together coherently, but they solve problems beautifully, or always have workable ideas, or they talk about ideas rather than people or events.

It’s hard to quantify, but you know it when you see it.”

4. Dad.

“Reminds me of my dad! He was a boiler technician my whole life, nothing past an 8th grade education because the high school principal told him he’d never be anything, started asking me how to spell things when I was in elementary school. Couldn’t spell for S**T.

But that man was smart, could rig anything together, solve just about any problem if he could use his hands By the time he d**d, he was the #1 boiler repairman in our state making a 6 figure salary. He was so intelligent just uneducated.”

5. Still doesn’t buy it.

“My stepfather is a genius.

He grew up in agriculture and knows agriculture. He legitimately thinks he’s not smart because he doesn’t read a lot but can tell you how to change the feed ratios on your fowls just by looking at their feathers.

He still doesn’t believe me when I tell him he’s impressive.”

6. Too bad.

“I grew up with a kid who was one of the smartest people I ever met. He was in all the excelled classes a straight A student. Academics came so easily to this guy. He could have gone to any college he wanted.

Well he just couldn’t stay out of trouble, living the “thug life”, selling drugs, running with wannabe gangsters. Well its been 20 years or so since we have been out of high school and he has done a few stints in prison, still lives with his parents, make a meager living selling pot.

It’s crazy seeing so much potential lost.”

7. Not dumb.

“My friend in high school thinks he’s dumb, but has an absolutely phenomenal knowledge of politics and the legal/economic system.

He has dyslexia, but you wouldn’t be able to tell because he reads more seamlessly than most of the rest of us.

I wish he would recognize how smart he was because I think he doesn’t aim as high as he could achieve because he doesn’t think he’s smart enough.”

8. A simpler life.

“I think some people just choose a quieter and more simple life despite their intelligence.

I worked as a hospital porter for a few years when I was a teen and one of my fellow porters was this brilliant chap who would skim through the paper on his break then go off on some glorious leftist rant like the leader of a union back in the 70s.

His political knowledge was unbelievable, he could easily have been an MP but was happier as a porter.”

9. Really sad.

“I knew a shaved head Mexican gang member in high school who made it to calculus without doing any studying or homework outside of just the class time. Because of this his grades were always at a B+ level, so he never really considered himself smart nor drew much attention from teachers.

Our high school was sharply divided between rich and poor, and he was doing as well or better than people who came from privileged backgrounds and that I knew for a fact had hours of private tutoring daily, were part of study groups, math club, etc.

To this day I can’t fathom how he did it. He did pay careful attention in class so he must have had a photographic memory and genius level mind. Half the time he never even brought the book to class, and had to borrow a TI calculator.

I know he left his books in his locker before he went home because he didn’t want to be caught holding a school book by his friends.

I was friendly with him, and saddened to learn that he was k**led a few years after high school.”

10. A great story.

“I know a guy who can’t read, is in his thirties pursuing for the first time a job (kitchen help) after a life of incarceration.

The kitchen is hectic, crowded, “high stakes,” and busy compared to other kitchens I’d worked in previous. Racing through the day by the seat of your pants and when the shift is over you can hardly recollect where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing.

In this fast unforgiving environment this man is learning how to read. In his thirties. When he makes a mistake the more experienced staff who would typically razz any slip up take the time to encourage him and forgive his mistakes as the mistakes of someone who is still learning.

He’s now able to work from a recipe book, pick items out of storage or the walk in that are boxed and labeled. (Box of sugar that doesn’t readily appear to be sugar, box of cheese that doesn’t show its self as cheese etc)

If you saw him at checkout like he has a hard time doing math and making change or reading. You’d notice it right away that he’s not “on par”

But within the kitchen the man’s considered a prodigy. For being unable to read or do math he can follow a recipe better than some credentialed chefs in the house.

Even more beautiful is that he is highly emotionally intelligent and always tries to make the people around him feel at peace or happy. Even when he can’t find his way around letters, numbers, or the outside world.”

11. Genius.

“I had a professor who didn’t think he was anything special but was a full on genius. It was really cool because he was so approachable and just brilliant- in his mind if he could do it so could everyone else.

The problem with that was his classes were crazy hard and he had no idea. He was assigning so much difficult homework the only way to get it done was to use this special dictionary. It was pretty much cheating. I spent the first half of the semester drowning in all my classes because I was actually doing the homework.

When I almost failed I was in his office and he was being SO supportive I mentioned that I’d only discovered this dictionary halfway through. Everyone had them, we were bringing them to class, they were a fixture in our small school. Additionally he was a top expert in his field and this was from a prominent publisher and not at all new. It was a safe assumption he knew what was going on.

He didn’t – he had the hardest course in my program by a mile and didn’t think it was hard at all. Didn’t cross his mind that we were all effectively cheating nor had he heard of this book. Next semester he completely revamped the homework so you couldn’t use the book – and never reduced the amount. I felt terrible. But also to this day can’t get over how clueless he was. “If I can do it you can too.”

This was a guy that knew umpteen languages and learned a new one each year for fun. You’d always see him walking down the street staring at flash cards and muttering to himself.”

Do you know any people who don’t realize how smart they are?

If so, tell us about them in the comments.

Thanks a lot!