The other day, I stuck my head in a conversation between two strangers at the bookstore. The woman was trying to sell the man on reading a series that she had enjoyed, while also bemoaning that the author had only written three books. Finally, I said, “He hasn’t been focusing on those books because he’s been writing a whole lot on this other, related series instead. There’s, like, 8 books in this other half of the series, and they’re set locally, so you might like them.” The odd thing was, she hadn’t mentioned in my hearing the author or the book titles - I recognized what she was talking about from the description she was giving. That’s the kind of thing I do - one of my strengths is that I collect information like a sponge collects water, so it was easy to link up the description she was giving with something I had seen on the shelf.
She thanked me for the information, excited to have something new to read. If this is my strength, though, it is also a source of shame. People are not always so happy with me for sharing my knowledge hoard.
Growing up, I was always the Smart Kid in school. In the early years, before we learned judgement, my classmates were proud of me and my abilities, debating whether it had taken me 3 days or 4 to read the 600-page “Amy’s Eyes”, waiting for the latest installment of my stories, or giggling over the MadLibs that I programmed into the classroom Apple. As we grew older, though, they learned to shun me as a know-it-all and a teacher’s pet. In seventh grade, my class voted me against my will into student government as a prank. I had turned from curiosity to pariah.
Being vulnerable, for me, means taking this piece of self out and letting it shine. And that’s really damn vulnerable. Letting my freak flag fly means, for me, admitting that I collect information, that what’s unique about me is that I absorb information like a sponge soaks in water, hoard it like a dragon does gold. I can tell you the names of all nine of Santa’s reindeer, the colors of the rainbow, several of the Deadly Sins, or the names and functions of your primary neurotransmitters with equal ease. I read anything within reach, and regularly add information to my knowledge hoard - in fact, my challenge is forcing myself to stop reading long enough to write until I find the meaning in what I’ve consumed.