How to Be a Genius

📅 March 21, 2020

Genius: an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc. or a person having such capacity.

Perhaps the first name that came to mind was Einstein or Mozart. Or maybe you thought of  Marie Curie or Rosalind Franklin.  

Here’s an alternate definition: Finding out what you need to know from an expert and then following that advice.

Here are some examples of when I behaved like a “genius.”

Accessing the Roadways. When I started to drive, my father, a man of few words, said, “Use the brakes, not the horn.” I have followed that advice to the letter and have taught my own children to do the same.  

Admitting The Dream Was Done. After 13 years of teaching English and speech, I wanted to teach history—impossible dream. I had no undergrad hours in history and my GPA was lusterless. Heart in hand, I applied at the University of North Florida. I was admitted on “academic probation.” After achieving an A in three courses, I was in officially. I loved each and every course, each and every semester, each and every year. When it came time to graduate, I aspired to keep going. Surely I could get a Ph.D.

So, I asked one of my professors what he thought. He invited me to have lunch with him in the history office and explained the process. First, I would have to get into a graduate school that offered my field and then I would have to find a professor who would be my advisor and I would have to travel at least to Gainesville, which offered the nearest option for a program, and after that, I would have to write a dissertation, and then… Well, for a mom of three, teaching full-time already, it was clearly un-doable, though a lovely dream. I have appreciated ever since that he was compassionately honest with me and I listened to him, though my future as Dr. Bebernitz had already played out in my mind.

Accepting the Role of Caregiver. I speak of my mother’s descent into dementia—an elusive culprit—which loved ones explain away at first till the signs are so glaring…and so dangerous…they can no longer be ignored. Once I finally admitted my mother needed professional help, a number of friends set me on the right course. A friend described choices she made for her mother’s assisted living arrangements and how she afforded them. A nurse advised taking my mother to a doctor to get a baseline diagnosis of mental capacity. A friend of my daughter’s offered suggestions about rehab (following my mother’s broken hip) and a place for assisted living. By that point there was no question my mother could not return to her home. I started investigating facilities and put down a deposit. When my mother was evaluated following six weeks of rehab for her hip, and the nurse said there was no option but memory care, I resisted at first, but did not argue. It was the safest place for her.

No matter what our level of intelligence or experience, we cannot “know everything.” Admitting help is needed is essential. Kick pride to the curb.  

You look really smart when you seek and follow good advice.


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association