Finally, the long awaited (put off) conclusion to my series on work:
The Absent-Minded Professor
All these jobs told me that I was not normal. A normal person, and normal man, I thought, just does his job, even if he doesn’t like it. When he doesn’t like it, he works hard to get a job that he does like.
A college professor, a genuine real professional college professor does things on time, answers email, does his grading and feedback in a meaningful and timely way, and does not get hung up on small problems.
A competent man has clear goals and values and picks and chooses his day-to-day actions in line with those goals.
Not so the ADHD man.
Part of this experience of coming to terms with ADHD is finding a way to be in the world. When I asked ADHD coach Kevin Roberts why it is so hard to persist in the world with ADHD, he said:
The non-ADHD world is geared toward the type of brain that 90 percent or so of the population. They craft a world suited to routine, safety, limiting risk, and predictability. These are pretty much the exact opposite to what the ADHD brain is suited for.
And that seems true to my experience. Although I don’t seem to have the disregard for safety that hyperactive people have, I do seem to have trouble fitting in wherever I go. I feel either not talkative enough, or too talkative. I hear people talk about their work habits, and I wish I could do that (though I know now, people lie). I understand the need for certain tasks for being a middle-class American with two kids and a house: paying bills, saving money, having the right insurance, keeping cars and houses maintained, returning phone calls, and, the hardest of all, doing what you don’t want to do in the short term in order to achieve what you want in the long term.
In some ways, my inability to do certain things at certain times seem horribly confusing to me. Why could I not do some things, which, by comparison to other things I could do, are quite easy tasks. In some ways, the answer is simple; the things are not fun or interesting, or there’s some ickyness or awkwardness attached to it. I could not collect from that customer on my paper route simply because I had put off doing it for so long that I could not muster the energy to just go face the music. I cannot pay bills on time because I spent my entire adult life being in debt and feeling guilty about it and I just don’t want to even think about all that mess. This basic resistance to boring or uncomfortable task which everyone has, is particularly difficult for my brain to get around, and requires more mental effort than the average person to both get started on and sustain effort. I’ve had sessions of grading papers that have had the same amount of tension and anxiety for me as when my wife was giving birth. It should not be that way, I think it is foolish for it to be that way, but it is that way.