Of all the criticism I have heard in my life, I would say this is probably the most frequent.
“You’re a smart person, Erik, if you’d only apply yourself, you could go far.”
Whether it was my English teachers in 6th Grade trying to teach me grammar, or my Math teachers in 3rd Grade trying to get me to learn my multiplication tables, or friends wondering over my puzzling, and often self defeating, career choices.
In point of fact, I can’t really apply myself in the same way others can. I am an intuitive, insightful thinker, not a methodical, plodding, stepwise, thinker.
I would, in fact, rather gouge my eyes out, than really learn multiplication tables, no matter how much it would improve my life.
The funny thing is, I am really good at memorization, but not in a conscious way. If I repeat things out loud, I can memorize pretty much anything: random numbers, letters, lengthy text, times tables, etc, but I can’t consciously pull it up, and don’t really understand it. It is as if I am reading it out loud for the other smart person who lives in my brain, and then can only access it, if that other person interrupts me with their insight.
I have to distract the Erik who lives from day to day to get any insight into my real thoughts and feelings.