I used to wonder if other people could think. I don’t mean that in a reductive, pretentious way. Quite the opposite, really. I thought there was something wrong with me because I could think. I felt ashamed for thinking around other people. Thinking instead of talking, or playing, or laughing.
It felt like everyone else was just programmed to know what to do, like they were machines made of meat, powered by instinct alone, never having to worry about thinking getting in the way of doing. Nobody seemed to want to sit together in a car in shared silence. I wondered what they did during that silent time, if they couldn’t think. If it was some kind of sleep-trance, going through the motions, just emptiness and steering.
When I was maybe 10, I told a friend of mine that I hated my imagination. I daydreamed too much–the teachers and my parents said so, and they knew everything–and so I never paid attention and wasn’t very smart. I equated thinking with daydreaming rather than intelligence. Intelligence, it seemed, was something that was always just there for other people.
I told him I wished I could be smart like him instead of needing to daydream all the time. It was recess and we were on the rope swings. He told me he wished he had a big imagination instead of being smart.
“No you don’t,” I thought. And thought.