Leave a comment

My Dirty Little Secret :)

Disclaimer: this blog is rated G.

That said, here’s my secret.

I’m a pretty slow learner. (Don’t tell my bosses!). S. L. O. W. I never understand anything the first time and this used to break my heart because, you know, I’m supposed to be smart. And you need to add, “I’m a fast learner” to your CV else no one will employ you. I’d go for career fairs and hear the company reps say things like, “You need to be able to think on your feet, adapt to changes, deal with uncertainty, learn fast…” And I’d think, I’m hopeless. I hate thinking on my feet, I’d rather sit and muse with a pen and paper. But this is the 21st century, with its obsession with speed, fast, now! No one has time for musing!

I tried to be a fast learner and thinker. I used MindMaps and all sorts of gimmicks. Nothing. I wished I could be like my quicker-minded friends. I wanted to be a genius, effortlessly brilliant. The fear of being stupid was so real, I began to have self esteem issues.Ā 
My moment of truth came when I sat down and admitted the facts. I was a slow learner. (If I was abroad, they would have a proper, exotic name for it. Something ending in -syndrome). I was so slow, I needed to study something 3-4 times before I got the hang of it. Yes, I said it. *sob*

It was a moment of deep anguish, by the way. (Yes,Ā  I’m vain like that).

But that awareness helped me pace myself. If I needed to read it 3-4 times, I needed to. There was no shortcut. I couldn’t “fire fight” a day to my exams; cramming a semester’s worth of notes in a couple of hours. I had to read it all painstakingly. Everyday of the semester. Over and over and over.

This self-knowledge still stands me in good stead now that I work. A lot of the information is new. Sometimes I worry that I’m not learning as fast as my peers, as fast as I should. But I remind myself that I’ll get it eventually. The faster I read it, the faster I can get to my 2nd and 3rd and 4th reading. I just need to discipline myself to read.

Just thought I’d share this today. Sometimes, you may look at someone and feel you’d never be as smart as them. But it’s okay. Maybe all you need is to rinse and repeat, right? Who knows, they just might be doing the same thing!


Random Picture of a Buddha


  1. Yes, yes. I understand.. I was telling a buddy the other day that I’m not half as good at what I do compared to my friends. But I’m blessed with common sense (sometimes), and so I make up for my lack of talent with loads and loads of revisions and visiting tutors and asking anyone who would listen for advice. So that the end result might not be grand, but it’ll be a well thought-out process that responds to every problem.

    Thanks for sharing; you’re still that incredibly smart girl to me. šŸ˜€

    • Lol. The grunt work isn’t as glamorous as “sheer genius”. We need to glamorise persistence and common sense too. So some people don’t write themselves off. Thanks for the vote of confidence. šŸ™‚

  2. I happen to believe you are one of the smartest humans I’ve met, so what if you have to learn things several times before they settle in? So long as you eventually learn it, its ok. Do what works for you babes. You rock.

  3. Hahahaha thankfully you’re not a slow talker too like me. At least you look smart. I am a slow learner. I’ve accepted that about myself for a while now. As an aside, you have to deal with the hatred of failure. Takes persistence to try something the 4th time after failing 3 times. (Driving, swimming, volleyball, bass guitar, dancing, sighs this list is depressing me)

    When are you starting your tennis lessons again? šŸ˜€

    • “Hatred of failure:

      Yes, it takes a lot to deal with that monster!

      Thanks for the list. Its a good reminder!

    • Tennis begins when the weather clears. šŸ™‚ It took me forever to learn to drive! I’m learning to be okay with failure. Because if not, I’ll never try anything new. Tennis was my big experiment.

  4. Muyiwa Talabi says

    Haha. Caught you. I have many of these things to share as well.

    For example I have to always consciously know my left from my right, other people seem to do it effortlessly and in their heads, but I 90% of the time need to use my hands to be sure.

    I cannot so direct multiplication and division in my head like people do effortlessly, I make up for it with the speed I can do it and from memory, maybe that’s what others do, who knows?

    I am lazy. I cannot read long print. I will get tired and drop it after a few pages. I really don’t know how I know the general knowledge things I know, I guess its back to the memory again and how I can steal info from people through conversations or watching TV and never forgetting.

    But really Osemhen, you’re one of the smartest people I know and I mean this in every respect, not just book stuff, so its kind of hard to believe, but its refreshing to see ow you’ve achieved this with hard work.

    This is the second time your blog has allowed me feel like I’ve dropped a load off my chest. Thank you Osemhen once again.

    • And thank you for offloading, Talabi. Just so you know, you were one of the brains I envied in school. šŸ™‚

      P.s. I always mix up “good morning” and “good afternoon”. It’s embarrassing.

    • Gbeminiyi says

      I can totally relate with this especially the left and right thing. I have to use my wrist watch as reference when I want to differentiate between my left and right.
      Iā€™m also the laziest person to walk this earth. The amount of things in my mental to do list compared with what I end up doing is a thing of shame.
      My ability to remember things quickly and my love for random information is probably my only saving grace.
      I guess we all have our own special way of learning and the smart ones are the one that are able to identify their flaws and use it to their advantage.

  5. lol…
    Knowing what you had to do to make up for the inadequacy is smart…
    and that makes you a smart girl… šŸ™‚

    Uhhh… Well for me, i learn by patterns… Give me anything and I’ll be looking for patterns to in it to use to store the information in my head…
    I, also, can’t recognize cars by color and model; instead i recognize a car I have seen before by its plate number…

    I guess that’s it for me…
    Nice piece, though… Needed something that refreshing, it’s been a long day! *phew*

  6. Toba Omotilewa says

    I am not sure I know you enough to make a conclusive statement on this write-up; but I am tempted to believe you are one of those smartest peeps in EE a while ago. Was that the secret?

    • Lol. I think I know myself pretty well. Certainly enough to make a statement on how I learn. I think I’m smart in some ways but I’m not a fast learner. Both aren’t always inclusive, that’s my conclusion.

  7. Aye says

    Ah shucks! Thanks for bursting my bubble. I thot it was something more exciting like ‘I eloped with a lover when I was 15’!!! I could have even settled for ‘I am a part-time private detective’ LOL!
    Good stuff though. Aren’t we all. . Well, most of us šŸ™‚

  8. DavidOlamideCraig says

    Just want to say I looove the random picture. Randomness never got any randomer…..

  9. on the flip side, slow learners tend to master what they have read eventually, most times better than their fast learning counterparts.

    Cramming a whole course in one night (usually a day to exam) back in UNILAG was a nightmare. But we did it every time, every semester.

    I know i am a slow learner but though i have never shared that with anyone up until now, my friends already know this. It got so bad that whenever they want to tell me something important, they usually write it on a sheet of paper and SLOT IT IN MY POCKET and later call me if i have read and understood it.

    I am not just a slow learner, i also forget stuff very fast too. And hell yeah, I said it šŸ™‚

  10. hey osemhen, this is nice..well I’m not a slow learner but I forget things so easily that if I haven’t studied and taught what I’ve read to my invisible students, it’s almost impossible to recall when I’m asked.You know that feeling when the moment comes and you are asked a question on something you think you’ve read and your reply is so disjointed that you are wondering if you ever opened the book and all you want is to disappear cos you feel soo stupid.

  11. Slow doesn’t necessarily mean dumb. The slowest learners are often the best at assimilation (think Albert Einstein). They tend to be very observant of their environment, hence pay better attention to detail. Which explains why you’re such a good writer.

  12. This is exactly me. Thankfully I realized in Uni that my own brain was of the ‘work hard’ variety. Ain’t nothing wrong with that girl. I did better than most of the smart people because they were too confident or lazy.

    I don’t get numbers (still don’t know my 8 or 9 times table and wrote all my history essays like this, “in the early/mid/late 18/19 00’s” because I couldn’t memorize numbers). I studied almost every day because I couldn’t do rush hour stunts and I wanted to learn, not cram. I dydx-ed over and over until I figured it out.

    I learnt to have numbers and facts handy at work so I can find what I need in less than 2 minutes. I try word associations and imagery when I absolutely must remember something.

    Knowing what works for you and putting that knowledge to best use is what’s important.

    Hello, my name is Noiroublance and I’m a slow learner too šŸ™‚

      • I was just going to pass and not drop a comment, but I had to.

        I am not a slow learner, but I need to read things about 2 times to really understand what I am reading. I figured out, when I don’t really understand something, I just have to try and explain to someone who doesn’t understand, and try to make the person understand, doing this I tend to the idea and concept of what I didn’t understand in the first place. I forget things easily, in order to avoid this, I just look for one of my random coursemates/ friend and try to explain what I just read to them, that way I won’t forget.
        I have d picturegraphic memory (I dnt know if that word exists). It means I have a thing for faces /pictures/ graphics. I might not know your name, but the first time I see you, I wouldn’t forget the occasion I saw you, what you were wearing, who you talked to …blah blah blaah, so when next we meet, I would be like ‘I know you’ (it helps wif the tatafo). I love gist, so If you want me to remember what you said, just add an interesting story, and please finish the story, then voila, everything about what you said would stick to my brains. I am really observant, I take minute details of things most people ignore, who knows I might help solve a criminal case someday ..:D

  13. This is funny. Familiar. True. In a way. I’ve come to realize that every ‘smart’ person has a dirty little secret of their own. Everyone likes to make things look effortless and smooth and only a few will admit this. As you say, accepting these things is the first step.

    Personally, I have a bad memory and suffer from a mild case of Impostor Syndrome (see, I found my own ‘-syndrome’ suffix name, yours is out there somewhere). I do not feel nearly as smart as people think I am or the documents say I am. I always have a feeling that one day, someone in uniform will walk up to me and say, “The jig is up fella, hand over all the certificates and awards. You’re done here. We’re on to you.” Its been with me for as long as I can remember. But I don’t let it stop me. And I guess that’s the point with all our dirty little secrets – have them, know them, don’t let them stop you.

  14. Kahyzen says

    Just discovered your blog and i am in love. Thank you for this post. I was the girl who had to read things a several times in order to “get it”. My biggest problem was that I always had a billion and one interpretations (the a little mind wandering) to the basic things. My feel smart strategy was always to surround myself with smart people with the hopes that their intelligence would transfer by association šŸ™‚


  15. First post I stumbled on and yet it’s probably one of the best and most helpful I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t been able to run through the comments so someone on here might have already made my point but I’ll still give it a go. I know you from some ZAC footage I was lucky to get my hands on and in my head, everyone on that show is a super genius of sorts with supreme speed of thought and assimilation. So, this article came as a bit of a shock to me. However, this piece is definitely a source of immense encouragement to a lot of people out there who know you or have heard about you. Luckily, thanks to this ‘dirty little secret’ (by the way, great title, it lured me in here), I am now a step closer to promulgating a theory on human intelligence and behaviour that I’ve been collecting info on for a while. Thanks for your needed though unwitting help. Excellent post. I’m off to run through some of your other ones. Keep it up.


  16. My daughter always takes awhile to learn things too. However, I know I have to hurry up and learn things quicker than her. Once she learns something, she will never for get it. Me, on the other hand, it will be gone within a month! šŸ™‚ We all learn differently.

  17. littlespritelyrants says

    i am not going to leave any long and smart comment here, all i’d say is i can totally relate. This just put into perspective a lot of things i have been fighting with. I thought i was dumb, my colleagues seemed to outshine me with their quick brains, there was always something they knew off the top of their heads that i did not know. but now i know i am a slow learner. i am pretty smart too and analytical. i take my time, mull alot and i am a tad bit lazy or non chalant…lol. i communicate better when i write and i desperately long for the day when we would be allowed to communicate with the next person by writing on pieces of paper. lol

  18. Pingback: A Lenten Reflection on Faith | eurekanaija!

  19. Osemhen, you have a gift; the ability to know yourself. Being able to look inside, know your weaknesses and strengths, and come up with what works. I read your Lenten Reflection and now that I’ve read this I can tell you, you own you. Keep knowing and owning you. Someday an opportunity will come, not for those who are fast learners but for those who have the gift of introspection. Guess who’ll be seizing it.

  20. Pingback: Things I Learnt in UNILAG and Things I Didn’t | Ranchosblog

  21. It is relative jare.

    You are probably a mel and being too hard on yourself
    I never thought I was beautiful
    I grew up to discover that people didn’t demand the level of perfection I demanded of myself.

Leave a Reply to FindingStrengthToStandAgain Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *