“Your energy is contagious. I wish I were hyperactive sometimes.” That’s what people have told me. Tell that to my husband when it’s 1 AM and I’m fidgeting in the bed like a snake.
I’ve been wanting to write this article for months, and today in the Atlanta airport after a trip to New York, I finally decided to disconnect the Wi-Fi and write about my adult ADHD.
If you look up the symptoms online, be prepared for a complete bummer. There is so much negativity and humiliation inherent to the symptoms described that it makes me pretty sad.
Well, just so you know, sad doesn’t work for me.
Because I don’t see it that way at all. Sure, I could allow myself to feel defeated and deflated. I could adopt the belief that there is something irreparable about how I function in the world. That would be the path of least resistance, but how productive is that?
For me, my ADHD “symptoms” are my natural state of being.
My diagnosis brought a wave of acceptance. There was a suddenly a link between the odd little behaviors in my life, including all the frustrations, and the substantial guilt that I felt.
When I was diagnosed with adult ADHD, my doctor gave me pre-approved sessions with a psychiatrist, who quickly suggested medication.
I told him that I preferred to have sessions where he would coach me and help me to manage my symptoms and frustrations. But he outright refused and insisted that I take the medication. I knew in my gut that it wasn’t the answer for me and that’s where my journey began.
I opted to accept myself and embrace who I truly am. I wanted to discover the tools that work best for me, and no, it didn’t include medication — not in my case. We all have to learn how to harness our strengths, manage our energy, and minimize the effects of our negative tendencies. Relying on medication was not a viable option for me.
I was determined to find a way to be at peace with myself.
And I believe that every human tries to do that, with or without ADHD.
My question is this, “Is ADHD truly a limitation? Or is it just perceived that way?”
Throw Creativity like Confetti
People with adult ADHD tend to be highly creative. Which is a great thing! Well, it’s a superpower, isn’t it? I can look at my business, or any business for that matter, in ways that are unique, and subsequently I can generate viable ideas and solutions.
Creative people can see the big picture and can connect the dots easily. Our creative minds can develop systems and decode problems quickly and intuitively. That is an invaluable strength.
Focus Mode ON
It’s a myth that people with adult ADHD can’t focus. Quite the contrary. In fact people with ADHD run the risk of focusing too intently when they are really interested in something, to the point of becoming obvlious of whatever is around them. We focus on the things that arouse our interest. We tend to have a low threshold for focus if something is boring to us. Be it a time crunch, an emergency, or simply enjoying a natural state of flow, we can focus very well when the circumstances are right.
“You are in the matrix, babe.” This is the sentence my adorable husband uses when I’m in hyperfocus mode. I can spend hours and hours coding or doing Facebook ads and the world around me doesn’t exist. I will not stand up, eat, or do anything that will take my attention off of my task. I get obsessed in the learning phase, and once I get pretty good at something, I’m onto the next thing. This has been my biggest asset for my business because I have learned online marketing this way. In 20 months, I learned email marketing, funnels, Facebook ads, social media engagement, etc. Thanks to my hyperfocus, I managed to quickly build a multiple six-figure online business without any previous knowledge.
Risk is my Middle Name
People with adult ADHD are said to be impulsive.
What can I say? I live and breathe impulsivity. And you know what, 8 out of 10 times it pays off, and for me that’s enough. When it comes to business, and life, I have learned to trust my gut. For years I rejected my gut feelings and assumed that I was always wrong. Enough of that. The truth is, you must trust your gut instincts if you want results. For example, I love Lean Startup Methodology, but according to that framework, my educational business was destined to fail. Still, my gut said go for it anyway. Although it required all my courage, I launched my business. Not only did I not fail, in the first 20 months, we generated over 400K.
Because of our attention span and our hyperfocus tendencies, ADHD adults tend to try a lot of things. I get very intense and once I am good at something, I quit. Or if I’m not good at it, I quit too, because I prefer to do something else that brings me more joy. I have several business because I love building businesses and get so much excitement from figuring out how things work. After I install a team that can handle the running of the business, I begin a new project. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it pays off big time. My many passions feed my soul and my creativity and let me show up in my business with a tank full of new experiences and ideas. I’ve noticed that as I’m doing different tasks, my brain has a magical way of connecting things unconsciously.
I have cultivated many tools to make the best use of my energy. One of my go-to techniques is prioritizing my tasks. It’s completely necessary, otherwise I end up running around like a chicken without a head.
So, my adult ADHD makes me run like a little hamster on a wheel. No biggie. When my energy is well-managed and prioritized, I can conquer the world. When I focus on using my energy on the right things, I move forward 20x faster. I’m a go-getter, basically because I am compelled to be. That’s the only way for me because I need to utilize all this energy. If I harness that energy and focus it like a laser, my results are astounding.
Superpowers in Disguise
Ultimately, this journey has taught me to unpack and examine my limitations, or rather my perceived limitations. Instead of acquiescing to the stigma of an adult ADHD diagnosis, I chose to utilize and celebrate my so-called “symptoms.” Why are we so quick to label ourselves as insufficient or damaged, just because we have some unorthodox way of relating to the world? Perhaps you have something unique to contribute. Maybe what you thought was your weakness is actually your unharnessed superpower, and your only job is to identify it and embrace it.