There’s a reason we, the people with ADHD, often feel like we don’t belong. It’s that we get left behind.
No, I don’t mean picked last or not at all for games and sports, though many of us knew that feeling. I mean that we see many people doing many things and we say to ourselves, “I want to do that!”
And when we say, “that,” we mean all of it. We want it all, and we start it all, all at once.
Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but we all know that it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration. We start too many things. And we fall behind on so many of them.
And we’ve been this way since childhood.
Do you remember?
Remember begging to be allowed to do something, join some club, engage in some sport, play some game, build some project? And then, do you remember the lecture when you fell behind?
You were asked why you hadn’t kept up the way you said you would, why you hadn’t performed as well as the others had
And you were reminded that you had sworn to do just that. You had said you would keep up, accomplish, do!
Do you remember the feeling of having let someone down? Of course you do. You’re still feeling it.
So what happens?
You over extend yourself, of course. It all looked like fun, and it all looked fairly easy, and you had no idea how much time it actually involved.
For that matter, you had no idea how much time you actually had to spend. If you were asked, you’d have said, “I have a lifetime.”
Fewer people are questioning why you’re falling behind. With hobbies, you aren’t usually disappointing anyone, you just hear the echo of the past telling you you’ve let someone down.
You may feel guilty about the cost of initiating something that then sits undone in a corner of the basement/dining room/garage/yard/front hallway. But the admonitions you’re hearing are in your own head, and they’ve been there for so long they can’t easily be turned off.
What to do?
I can’t tell you what will absolutely work for you, but I can tell you what makes my life a lot easier. I have decided that if I disappoint myself, it’s not that bad a thing. For one thing, I know I’ll get over it pretty quickly. I’ll forget about not having finished something as soon as something else comes along.
But at this point, I also have to say that I am getting better at saying “No!” to things.
Really? Yes. Really. Well, maybe not
I would love to do so many things, and I can’t say that I am not busy doing a lot of them, but I can say that I have caught on to the value of saying, “No, not yet …”
I’ve realized that I can’t do it all at once, that if I don’t start so many things I’m more likely to finish the ones I do start.
I’ve also realized that the other things will either still be there when I’m ready to take on something new, or it will become obvious that they weren’t important to me and I’ve saved myself the effort, cost, and shame of not having finished yet another project.
And lastly, I’ve realized that I’m a grownup, and sometimes I have to try something to realize it isn’t for me. And yes, sometimes that costs me some time and some money, but what of that? Education requires investment, and I’ve realized that life is nothing more than learning.
And I’ve still got a lot to learn.