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Elon Musk Wasn’t A Superstar Genius Student As A Kid — The Principal Thought He Was Intellectually Disabled, Mom Says: ‘Once He Started Going To School, He Became So Lonely And Sad’

Elon Musk, the prodigious entrepreneur and visionary behind companies like SpaceX, Tesla Inc., Neuralink Corp. and The Boring Co., is a household name. But as with many luminaries, his early years were riddled with challenges and misunderstandings. While his eventual success would silence some critics, Musk was the boy who was once labeled as different. His latest biography delves into his childhood and how it shaped him.

From an early age, Musk’s intellectual curiosity was evident. As a toddler, his mother, Maye, recognized his exceptional intelligence and enrolled him in nursery school at age 3. This was against the advice of the principal, who believed that Musk’s young age would make it challenging for him to socialize with older children. Maye insisted that Elon be enrolled in the school, telling the principal, “I really have this genius child.”

But Musk’s experience was not what Maye anticipated for her son. In school, Musk was the boy who often appeared to be lost in his thoughts. “The teacher would come up to me and yell at me, but I would not really see or hear her,” Elon Musk said.

This recurrent behavior raised concerns, prompting a meeting with the school’s principal who told Elon’s parents, “We have reason to believe that Elon is retarded.”

Seeking an explanation for his behavior, his parents speculated that it could be a hearing issue. “They decided it was an ear problem, so they took my adenoids out,” Musk later said.

Musk frequently found himself engrossed in observation, often gazing out of the window. When teachers reprimanded him for not paying attention, he would make observant remarks like, “The leaves are turning brown now.”

His tendency to zone out was not because of a lack of intelligence or hearing issues. Instead, he describes it as a mental mechanism that allowed him to think deeply.

“Ever since I was a kid, if I start to think about something hard, then all of my sensory systems turn off,” Musk said.

Such depth of thought made it challenging for his peers to engage with him, with many attempting playful tactics to bring him back to the present. His mother corroborates this by saying, “It’s best not to try to break through when he has that vacant stare.”

You might think that a boy with such a strong inner world would be self-assured, but young Musk faced significant challenges in forming connections. His candid use of the word stupid didn’t earn him any popularity points.

Elon felt this loneliness deeply. In a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, he said, “When I was a child, there’s one thing I said. ‘I never want to be alone.’ That’s what I would say. ‘I don’t want to be alone.’”

According to the biography, enrolling Musk in school early was a mistake and Maye should have taken the teacher’s advice and waited. He had no friends. It wasn’t until college that he made his first close friend outside the family.

For many, the skepticism and criticism Musk faced during his childhood might have spelled the end of his ambition. But for Musk, adversity seems to have only fueled his drive. Even when labeled “different” by teachers or facing a world that didn’t quite understand his introspective nature, he remained undeterred.

This drive and ambitious spirit followed Musk into adulthood. From the early days of his ventures, critics and naysayers have been ever-present. But Musk never let their doubt diminish his aspirations. When he took the reins of Tesla, many were skeptical. Automotive giants and industry veterans questioned his ability to revolutionize the sector. Still, Musk’s conviction in his vision and his determination were evident.

Now, as the richest man in the world in 2023, Musk’s accomplishments are undeniable. With the success of Tesla, SpaceX and his various other enterprises, he has become a symbol of innovation, drive and sheer willpower. There are countless brilliant minds out there, each harboring an idea that could be the next disruptive innovation. For those looking to be part of such groundbreaking ventures from the onset, platforms like StartEngineoffer a golden opportunity. StartEngine allows investors to identify and invest in startups and companies that could very well be the next Tesla or SpaceX.



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