Subtle Signs You’re More Intelligent Than The Average Person

Most people have some level of basic intelligence to help them get through life (all those who lack common sense notwithstanding), but that doesn’t mean they’re all that clever. You don’t need to be a scholar or have the IQ of Einstein to be a smartypants, though — if you relate to any of the following, you’re automatically a bit more clever than the average person.

1. You’re the quiet observer in groups.

woman telling female friends a storyiStock

While everyone else is busy talking, you’re taking it all in, analyzing the dynamics and understanding more than you let on. This isn’t about being shy; it’s about processing information, reading between the lines, and understanding the bigger picture, a trait often linked to higher intelligence.

2. You have an insatiable sense of curiosity.

You’re never satisfied with the surface level of anything. Your constant questioning and need to explore deeper layers of topics show a sharp intellect. It’s not just about gathering information; it’s about connecting the dots and seeking knowledge beyond the obvious. Humanity is pretty nuanced and complex, and you want to get into the nitty gritty.

3. You’re more of a night owl than an early bird.

If you find yourself more active and creative at night, it’s not just a preference; it’s a sign of a mind that thrives on quiet and solitude to explore complex thoughts and ideas, a trait common among intelligent people.

4. You find it easy to go with the flow in life.

You adjust to new situations and challenges with ease, not because change doesn’t phase you, but because your brain is wired to find solutions and navigate through complexities efficiently, a hallmark of intelligence.

5. You understand the value of alone time.

You’re not anti-social; you recognize that solitude is essential for deep thinking and reflection. This ability to be comfortable with your own thoughts and use alone time productively is a subtle indicator of a sharp mind.

6. You have a great sense of humor.

You’re not just trying to be Bo Burnham here and crack jokes — it’s about understanding the nuances of humor, reading the room, and crafting witty remarks that require quick thinking and intellectual flexibility, all of which are traits associated with higher intelligence.

7. You’re skeptical by nature.

You don’t take things at face value and tend to question the status quo. This skepticism isn’t cynicism; it’s a sign of a mind that seeks evidence, challenges assumptions, and values critical thinking. With all the misinformation out there these days and people’s willingness to just accept it without questioning, you’re picking up the slack and investigating fully before you believe in something.

8. You’re forgetful about mundane tasks.

Forgetting small details like where you left your keys doesn’t indicate absent-mindedness; it’s often a sign your brain is occupied with more complex thoughts and ideas, which is a common trait among the intellectually gifted (yep, that’s you!).

9. You recognize and admit your mistakes.

Instead of defending your ego, you see errors as opportunities to learn. This humility and openness to correction are not signs of weakness but intelligence, understanding that growth comes from recognizing our faults.

10. You’re an avid reader.

thoughtful young black woman reading at libraryiStock/GaudiLab

If books are your refuge and you have an unquenchable thirst for reading, it’s not just a hobby; it’s a sign of a mind that craves knowledge and enjoys exploring different perspectives and ideas.

11. You don’t struggle to stay on task.

In a world full of noise, your ability to focus and dive deep into tasks without being easily sidetracked is rare and indicative of a disciplined, intelligent mind.

12. Your social circle is small but mighty.

Quality over quantity in friendships isn’t about being selective; it’s about valuing deep, intellectually stimulating connections over superficial interactions, a preference often seen in smarter people. You don’t care about having a huge social group — you’d rather have someone you can count on in tough times than someone to call to go out drinking over the weekend (though it’s nice to have both).

13. You’re not happy with overly simple explanations.

When solutions or explanations seem too straightforward, you’re the one looking for the catch. This discomfort with simplicity stems from an understanding that real answers often lie in complexity.

14. You have a habit of overthinking.

While it can be (and often is) exhausting, your tendency to overanalyze everything from social interactions to life’s big questions is a sign of a mind that delves deeper, seeking to understand all angles and implications. You want to know the how and why of everything, and while you realize that’s probably a bit unrealistic, that doesn’t stop you from trying.

15. You’re highly self-critical.

This isn’t about low self-esteem; it’s about holding yourself to high standards and constantly seeking self-improvement, recognizing that there’s always room to grow and learn.

16. You see patterns everywhere you look.

Your ability to notice patterns and connections that others miss isn’t just a keen eye; it’s a cognitive strength that allows you to predict outcomes and understand complex systems better.

17. You’re all about learning, not just achieving.

For you, success isn’t about the accolades; it’s about the journey of learning and discovery. This passion for knowledge for its own sake is a strong indicator of a brilliant mind.

18. You often feel a little out of place.

smiling man with glasses, pink shirt sitting on stairs

Feeling like you’re on a different wavelength isn’t about being superior; it’s often because your thought processes and interests don’t always align with the mainstream, a common experience for those with higher intelligence.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.