Welcome to ADHD Millennial!
I’m Neil, and I’m a recent college grad who received an ADHD diagnosis about four years ago. I’m going to write about that in posts to come, and I’m going to write about being ADHD, being a millennial and (of course) being an ADHD millennial. I’m also hoping to get your thoughts on these topics.
Today, though, I want to start by asking the important questions: who would actually self-identify as an “ADHD millennial”? Why would anyone do that?
Both people with ADHD and millennials get a bad rap in the media. People with ADHD are lazy pill poppers. Millennials are entitled, lazy narcissists. So ADHD millennials must have a double dose of lazy with a whole lot of other undesirable traits mixed in.
No surprise, then, that if you Google the phrase “ADHD millennial” (in quotes to keep the word order), you’ll find it’s used mostly as an insult. As in, “kids these days… no character or self-discipline… just a bunch of ADHD millennials.”
Interestingly, “ADHD” and “millennial” carry negative connotations for similar reasons: both people with ADHD and millennials are widely perceived as wanting things they don’t deserve and not being willing to put in the hard work to get those things. People with ADHD want accommodations for “normal human traits” like inattention, or so the story goes. Millennials, in the words of Wall Street Journal contributor Ron Alsop, want to “shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace.”
Does this mean the experience of being ADHD and the experience of being a millennial are similar? Only to a point, because there’s a big difference between being part of a generational trend and having a neuropsychiatric disorder.
But it does mean that if you’re an ADHD millennial, the challenges you face as someone with ADHD and the challenges you face as a millennial are going to be interwoven. If you’re a millennial, you grew up in the digital age, you have a different perspective on how institutions like the workplace function and you want these institutions to function differently than they did in the 20th century. If you have ADHD, you need these institutions to function differently than they did in the 20th century.
So for now, I just want to leave it as something to think about: somehow, the experience of being ADHD influences the experience of being a millennial and vice-versa.
While we’re getting started, I also want to give a shoutout to two characters who will probably be making repeat appearances in future blog posts: doubt and hope.
Doubt and hope are two cornerstone emotions of the experience of being a millennial.
Our lives are full of doubts: will I find a job that lets me feel good about my life at the end of a day’s work? Will I find any job at all, for that matter? Will I find the right people to spend my life with?
On the good days, our lives are full of hope, too: I will find that job, those people.
ADHD tends to magnify all the doubts and hopes that come with being a millennial. It’s that much harder to find a rewarding career, that much harder to meet the people who get you.
But for all its downsides, ADHD also magnifies the hope. An ADHD diagnosis can be a powerful source of hope because it can point the way towards a more balanced, aware life.
If you have an ADHD diagnosis, you have hope. If you don’t have an ADHD diagnosis but have figured out you might have ADHD, you also have hope. And if you have ADHD but don’t know you have ADHD, it can feel like you’re in a pretty hopeless place because you have a big problem and don’t yet have the solution for it, but you still have hope.
For me, hope is the biggest difference between pre-diagnosis Neil and post-diagnosis Neil. Getting an ADHD diagnosis doesn’t solve all your problems immediately, but it lets you know that there’s a way forward.
Before being diagnosed, I felt my life was basically not working on some level but didn’t know why. Like a lot of people with ADHD, I went into treatment for anxiety and depression and came out of treatment having discovered that the best way to deal with my anxiety and depression was by managing my ADHD.
Now, as far as my diagnosis of being a millennial, I have to confess that it’s a self-diagnosis, but it’s one I’m pretty sure about. Like my ADHD diagnosis, it was a long time coming, but I can tell you the exact point in time when it was made. It was when I graduated college, thought all my troubles were behind me, went to figure out what to do next and realized: “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Over a year later, I still have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m looking forward to writing about it here.