You can guess what this post will be about by the title. For everyone who decided to go for it, despite what experience has tried to show you, maybe I can be a beacon for you. Don’t put yourself in unwinnable situations just to prove you can measure up to some ambiguous standard. It doesn’t matter if you can measure up, you’re still doing something you hate. Do what you are good at, do what you love, find a way to do what you love. You may be judged, let them judge you. It does not matter. If you have a unique way of looking at things, keep looking that way. If you have a certain way of doing things, keep on being certain.
Maybe the world was not ready for us, but there are certainly a lot of us out there. We see and do things differently because we learn differently. We do it because that is how our brains work. That is how things go, we cannot escape our brains. My brain has a way of mapping things that seems to be somewhat irregular. I am capable of efficiency and I am also capable of inefficiency. It usually depends on the task at hand. But let me tell you something that I’m deadly serious about: nobody fucks up on purpose. Why would we?
We make mistakes, quite often a series of mistakes. I am speaking for myself when I say I need a certain amount of repetition to become competent at something. Throwing a series of things at me that are similar yet subtly different is confusing. Turning it into a game of “which one of these does not belong?” teaches me very little. Frankly, it teaches me not at all. Tell me how you need it done, I’ll find a way. When I was little, I used to want to be a good worker bee, that’s what they teach you in kindergarten, at least when I was in kindergarten. Neurodivergent probably wasn’t a word yet and ADHD may not have been a diagnosis yet either.
That was probably the beginning of my wanting to stand out from the crowd because apparently I was doing it anyway. In the 3rd grade, after I had made some kind of mess, one of my classmates said “you always gotta be different.” Not by choice. Back then I wish I could have blended in, but that wasn’t much of an option. I feel like I stood out for the mistakes I made. Always having to be the new kid and having ADHD made for some interesting school situations. Maybe I wouldn’t be so math avoidant if we had stayed in one place. I was an army brat, we moved frequently. We’ll never know. I’m cool with balancing a checkbook, but that’s about it. Alternatively, no one much balances their checkbooks anymore…
I have to stop trying to fit in. Because I never will. It’s square peg in round hole time. It’s never going to work. From here I really do have to make my business work. It has to be more than a blog and a website. It has to be a viable structure that can meet the needs of the clients I want to work with. I will likely need another part time job soon, and it will need to pay a certain amount so I can cover my end. It will also have to be flexible enough to cover accommodate my ADHD.
Allow me to speak on my ADHD, my specific version and experience of it. I have the inattentive variety, which is very quiet and, frankly, really unnoticeable. I know because I spent years hiding it. If any of you all want to play a fun game, try hiding something you don’t even know you have. The mental gymnastics are fantastic, truly. I mention that because I wasn’t diagnosed until age 34. I promptly dismissed my diagnosis. How bad could it be? I had just finished graduate school, had just started a new career as a therapist and was about to get married. How bad can this be if I have accomplished this much? I threw some meds at it and tried to forget about it.
Here is how I got good grades, basically for the first time in my life, in graduate school: I didn’t work, I just studied, went to class, worked out, and that’s it. I survived off student loans and I was poor, but I had good grades. I had time to write good term papers because I didn’t have anything else going on. This worked for graduate school, but very rarely in life do we only have one thing going on, especially as we age. But I have learned for me simplicity is the key to success and overly convoluted systems that branch out in a multitude of directions don’t work for me.
Looking back, there were a ton of signs it was worse than I thought but I didn’t label it as related to ADHD. I was just bad at filing paperwork and notes on time. I was great on the front end, loved running groups, loved working with clients, but getting mentally settled enough to have my notes and monthly reports done on time became very challenging. My case load doubled in less than a month at one point (it went from big to bigger) and I was deep in the weeds. This compounded my stress. I had one or two supervisors try to help, but that childhood pattern of hiding it was too ingrained. I was placed on a “professional development plan” which I regarded as insulting and threatening. I signed it then turned in my notice the next day. No place to go, no place to land, but I had to get out of there. I cleaned my mess up to the best of my ability and left.
I have learned if I don’t control the flow and the pace, it can become a recipe for disaster. I can do things quickly, but I have to know how the pieces and the parts fit together. For that I need a reasonable amount of time to learn it and a fair amount of repetition. I wish I could get it all in one take, but I’m not that guy. I’m 51 now and I have noticed I spend a lot of time figuring out how to do shit. And with our current work from home status, I can’t just lean over and ask somebody for help.
My tolerance for these situations has lessened with age and has placed me in difficult spots. I have come to the conclusion I am grossly overdue for formal intervention in regards to my ADHD diagnosis. I need a therapist or coach specific to this. I’m seeing now how this undiagnosed condition made many difficult childhood experiences even more difficult. My beautiful and wonderful partner of 13 years has remarked that I have told her almost nothing of my childhood. I’ll admit after 13 years of being together, that is more than a little irregular, weird even. The reason I haven’t spoken about it is because I buried it. I stuffed it. I did that because I was ashamed of it. She is absolutely brilliant at embracing the strength and beauty that comes from true vulnerability, and I love her for it. I am not so good at it, so I will be learning from her.
I write things like this with the hope it will help someone else. The last three years of my life have been a frequently gut-churning lesson in why I do things the way I do. As much as I value and speak about self-knowledge, I have some enormous gaps in my own. I haven’t posted anything since December for reasons I’ll explain later, reasons that are connected to some of this post. These last few months may be the catalyst for me becoming an ADHD Coach, it is something I have been pondering. I hope this post reaches who it is supposed to reach and offers some sort of aid to those of you who need it. Be well.