When someone mentions the word ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ or ‘clever’, what do you unconsciously think of? Chances are, thoughts of a cancer-curing doctor, gravity-defying scientist, equation-solving mathematician and others in such similar categories, probably crossed your mind first.

Being Asians, it is undeniable that a majority of us grew up with the idea that one can only go far in life if one is academically smart. Although it does not always correlate, those who are deemed ‘smart’ are those who score straight As consistently, love science and maths, and whose ambitions are within the walls of those highly notable like being a doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer and so on, so forth. Basically, jobs that the average Joe wouldn’t qualify for.

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This is probably just a shout in the void but I’d very much like to break the stereotype of how people who are in notable fields are considered smarter and more capable than those who are involved with arts, design, social and such. I definitely agree that it takes brains to be a doctor and whatever I just mentioned above, but it pains me that those who prefer to trudge on a different path are viewed differently.

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Sadly, the education system in Malaysia is a living proof of such ludicrous beliefs. Students in the science stream are future leaders and prominent members of society, while the arts stream are those who ‘cannot study.’ God forbid if you’re a straight-A student who wanted to be in the arts stream. You’ll probably be attacked with various remarks such as, “Such a waste of talent”, “Don’t waste your time”, etc.

Being a Mass Comm student, the stereotype is even more prevalent from our side, as our course is believed to be a ‘no-brainer’ course that is being taken up by those who ‘cannot study.’ Just to give you an insight into what we have to endure on an almost daily basis, here’s an example of a recent conversation I had:

 

Aunty: So, what are you both currently studying?

Cousin: Oh, I’m in my third year of Medicine now.

Aunty: Wah, future doctor! Very good! What about you, Amanda?

Me: I’m doing Mass Comm.

Aunty: *fake smile* What’s that ah? You get to be on TV is it?

Me: *fake laugh*

 

You do realize that there are 7 billion people in the world, right? And not all 7 billion people in the world are interested in being a doctor, lawyer or engineer? I am a strong believer in the idea of how we’re all made differently and that we cannot be moulded into the same shape. We each have our own interests, values, goals and capabilities. Just because one isn’t a doctor doesn’t mean that one isn’t smart, for God’s sake. A graphic designer may not be able to tell you about the mechanisms of biology but can a doctor create digital art?

Photo via: Career Geek

Photo via: Career Geek

It works both ways, don’t you see? Those who are not made to be scientists have their own capabilities and talents in other fields as well. And if you are one of those who think that one field is more superior than the other, shame on you, really. Would it give you peace of mind if all 7 billion people in the world are doctors, engineers and lawyers? It doesn’t make sense now, does it?

Once, a friend accidentally blurted out, “My parents will kill me if I do Mass Comm.” First of all, what is that supposed to mean? Is Mass Comm a course that’s so degrading? Are you implying that the numerous PR practitioners, copywriters, graphic designers, producers, photographers, journalists, editors, and more are degrading as compared to the doctors, lawyers and engineers? Secondly, my parents won’t kill me even if I wanted to be a contortionist in a circus because they believe that the most important thing for their kids is to pursue what they truly have passion for. I am a Mass Comm student and I am passionate in what I do, as a matter of fact.

There is so much more to life than being academically smart. Good for you if you are, and even better for you if you’re genuinely interested in industries that need your talents. But if you’re a straight-A student who likes arts more than science, go for it. You’re not wasting your talents. If anything, you’re wasting your time for sacrificing your happiness on a course that sparks no interest in you whatsoever. I have plenty of straight-A friends in my course as well, and I can tell you that we’re all doing fine. Don’t subject yourself to such outlandish beliefs. Just because you’re not doctor-smart, doesn’t mean you’re not smart, remember that.