Scheherazade has a thought-provoking post up about how being smart isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all. We shouldn't worry too much or place too much stock in whether we are the smartest person in the room at any given time.
Curiously enough, despite the plethora of insecurities I have, this has never been a concern of mine. Like a lot of book-smart kids, I grew up having teachers and other adults fawning over me and talking about my intelligence. But my parents always stressed that intelligent people are a dime a dozen, and I learned pretty early on being intelligent doesn't necessarily make you effective. Just being brilliant doesn't really matter to anyone unless you can translate your brilliance into some sort of result that is actually valuable to yourself or others. And to translate intelligence into results, you need other qualities like perserverence, and people-skills, and hard work, and lots of other qualities unrelated to intelligence. And of course, there are many different types of intelligence. If the goal is to use logic and analysis to figure out a problem or debate a point, I am your person. If the goal is to write a song or build a cabinet, you would be better off with almost anyone else but me.
Generally, I go through life assuming that, in terms of logical, verbal, analytical, and strategic ability, and the ability to grasp facts and concepts quickly, I am equal to virtually anyone I meet. But I also assume that most people are equal to me as well, even people who are less knowledgeable or less educated than I am in certain areas. I am always taken by surprise when someone seems deficient in the ability to reason. But I also remember that a deficiency in reasoning ability doesn't necessarily mean that the person is deficient in other things that are equally important or more important. I tend to assume that I am smart and perceived as smart -- but I worry inordinately about whether I am aggressive enough, creative enough, reliable enough, and hardworking enough.
Those are my preliminary thoughts. I am probably going to post some more on this topic of what it means to be "smart" and the significance of being "smart." Meanwhile, I would like to point you to these two kick ass posts Scheherazade linked. The first post (by Megan) expresses a lot of what I was trying to capture in my post On Being Created in God's Image. Megan says in her advice to smart people:
. . . [R}espect everyone. I don’t mean this as a variant on “everyone has something special that they are good at, and that person might just be an excellent scrapbooker” (which I’ve always disliked, because what does that leave the person who really isn’t good at anything?). No, I mean that you must respect everyone for his or her fundamental personhood. Respect every person as you do yourself, just for existing as a person and trying her or his best. Do not reason through why some people are more worthy of respect than others. Just respect everyone as an article of faith.
It will make your life better to respect everyone you meet. First, it feels good to move in a world where everyone is respect-worthy. It makes everyone brighter and shinier and more interesting. Second, people can tell. They can tell right away, before you speak or smile or do anything. People like to be respected and they will like you for doing it. It is nice to meet people who already like you. You’ll like them more too.