Everyone has moments in graduate school when they think they should be elsewhere. Early in my first school year at UT, I heard some classmates discussing how “most people don’t think.” They reasoned that being in graduate school allowed them to have a more contemplative, mentally engaged life.
Here’s the opposite perspective on that idea:
The Paradox of Intelligence
More intelligent people tend to have jobs that require very high levels of mental engagement (not to mention, longer work weeks). If you’re a doctor, lawyer, accountant, consultant, teacher, etc., then chances are your thoughts are consumed by work-related activities (and that you have less-than-average amounts of free time).
Highly intelligent people are more likely to exchange their brainpower for money, and less likely to retain much of said brainpower for themselves. They’re more likely to enroll in mentally demanding graduate programs and accept mentally demanding jobs. (In the western world we’re taught that if we have the capacity to be a doctor then it’s somehow a “waste” to work retail, make smoothies for a living, or become a farmer — even though a retailer worker, smoothie maker, or farmer get to own more of their thoughts).
Hence, the paradox of intelligence (POI) says that in general, the more intelligent you are, the less brainpower you’re likely to keep for yourself. The POI says that the smarter you are, the less you keep your mind for yourself. It says that the more intelligent you are, the greater the probability that an employer owns too much of your brainpower.
As a result of this paradox, intelligent people are losing the battle for their minds. They simply have less mental energy at the end of the day to ask the bigger questions. They have less mental energy and time needed to gain perspective.