Quora User Shares What Life with an Extremely High IQ Is Like

Rob May, user of Quora, a popular knowledge exchange service, gives a detailed answer to the question what life with an extremely high IQ is like.

The most popular answer to the question ‘What is it like to have an extremely high IQ?’ on Quora was given by Rob May, founder of the Backupify company.

“I only found out I had a high IQ (161) because my professional life was such a mess I had to see a psychologist,” he confesses from the start.

According to Rob May, the most aggravating thing about developed intellect is the fact that you can quickly grasp things at a level unavailable to most people. And this is very annoying, because you want to move forward, and other people take time to understand, so you have to slow down. “It is particularly painful when dealing with complex topics where the mental models involve feedback loops and non-linearities,” Rob says.


Telling the story of his life, Rob May recalls how he grew up a regular shy kid. He realized he was smarter than most other people only in 8th grade, when he was the only one among his peers to be accepted to a new magnet program in math and science at a new high school.

“We had more than 20 people who took Calculus 2 or 3 by the time they graduated. These were really really smart people, so I didn’t feel that great about my own intelligence,” Rob writes.

He graduated college with a BS degree in Engineering and an MBA a year early because he took extra classes. After that, Rob started working at a good engineering position, and that was when the problems started.


“I still read 40-50 non-fiction books a year, even textbooks, and didn’t do “normal” things, so I struggled in social situations,” Rob recalls. “I wasn’t awkward or scared, I just didn’t understand why no one else wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about.”

Soon, Rob started seeing a psychologist. The latter insisted he take an IQ test, and Rob scored high on it. He joined MENSA (the largest, oldest, and most famous organization for people with high intellect), hoping to meet more people like him there.

I wasn't awkward or scared, I just didn't understand why no one else wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about.

“Unfortunately, most MENSANs seem to be smart people who are incredibly lazy and distracted and don’t want to do anything with their lives. I had nothing in common with them, and dropped out after a couple of years,” May wrote.

Finally, at the age of 26, May took on startups, and for the past nine years he says that he has been working with people who are as smart, and sometimes smarter than himself.

“There is much much more to life than intelligence,” says Rob. “And being successful is more about hard work and good communication skills than anything else.”

Cover photo: ESA / Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

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