Wanna know something? I have ADHD. Yeah, I know what everyone says. “Who doesn’t have ADHD?” I’m not here to complain. Hang on, why dontchaaa! I’m about to get to a transformation via adversity story. Geeez!
Imagine this with me. Many say individuals with ADHD are “easily distracted”. For me what happens feels more like an overwhelming energy pulling me into (what feels like) a calling. I’m not aimlessly wandering, I’m charging into an intense hyper-focus state. In school, for example, I would read an interesting fact on dinosaurs and go on a scavenger hunt in the glossary for everything related. Then, I was transported into another plane of existence. Other students, the teacher and the room all drifted away. I wanted to look at every picture and imagine myself surrounded by prehistoric plant-life. I wondered how big I’d be next to that monstrous fern. I imagined how the air would feel. Was the air heavy? What did it smell like? Would I survive? Just like that, I was inside the pictures applying what I’d been reading to the world around me.
All the sudden, I’d hear the teacher call my name. “Michelle, can you explain what relative dating is?” I looked at my friends for the answer. I searched to figure out what page everyone else's open books were on. I could tell you everything about which dinosaurs were herbivores but I haven’t the slightest idea the answer to the question being asked. Where the hell are we? What day is it? How long have I been gone? Also, is anyone interested in knowing about what I just read on the relationship between chickens and dinosaurs? No? Pay attention? Okay, will do. Oh no, I’m drifting again. “Why does this keep happening? Ahhhh.”
I loved learning but rarely on the same timeline or schedule as everyone else. I felt broken. I was embarrassed regularly and seemed disappointing to adults. I couldn’t keep this up. So, I developed a mechanism. Instead of searching and struggling to come up with an answer, I started making jokes and comments at my own expense. The dumb blonde persona gained momentum. I decided it was easier than the heartache of the truth that I didn’t know how to explain.
It wasn’t until college when I began to shift this image I’d grown to resent. It wasn’t healthy but for so long, this role served a purpose. While I avoided shame, I still experienced pain and fear. It’s wild, I can speak in front of any room but learning in public still gives me the creeps. I have developed tools and processes for wielding my energy in an effective way. However, I’ll still mentally duck out from time to time. I’ve grown to realize ADHD is a superpower. When harnessed and channeled, I can conquer the world. In my focused state, I literally feel like I have access to a secret gift.
I’ve learned to over communicate so others understand how I’m showing up. I’ll say things like, “I need _____ in order to be successful with this project.” If you see me with earbuds in, I’m trying to concentrate because I’m easily distracted. If I’m doodling and not looking at you when you’re talking, it’s because I’m inside my mind working with my brain team to appropriate file, process and organize our conversation. Otherwise, I’m Spongebob in the episode where he forgets everything but fine dining and breathing.
Long story short, I’m grateful for my ADHD. It helped me hone my longest running bit, the dumb blonde. I’ve been done with that role for awhile even though my personality can be silly and bubbly. I’ve also grown to understand that it’s really not my business to worry about how I’m perceived. My job is to live and honor myself. If you want to learn more about my ADHD story in detail, reach out. I’d love to chat. Thanks for reading! It feels so good share what’s on my heart and mind with you.