I sat on the back step in the morning sunlight. The birds sang “Spring is coming.” At minus seventeen degrees celsius, with snow banks on my deck taller than me, it was hard to believe.
I popped in the earbuds. Adele played, but not so loud that I didn’t catch the regular tap-tap-tapping that started up to my right.
A woodpecker, I thought.
I glanced at my neighbor’s deck. His teardrop-shaped feeder appeared to be unoccupied. I waited. Then, sure enough, a downy woodpecker emerged from the south side, settling in profile on the west side and continuing her tapping.
My heart sank as I watched her work in vain against the thick, clear plastic. The feeder was brimful of birdseed, but she’d never get a morsel by tapping at its sides.
Around and around she went, stopping every quarter turn: tap-tap, tap-tap.
I sat and wondered, at the end of this harsh winter, how much energy would she have available to waste on such a futile pursuit?
And then I felt a pang of recognition: that was me before my ADHD diagnosis. A life spent in exhausting pursuit of goals and not seeing the invisible barrier that stood between me and the goodies.
Before my ADHD diagnosis, I think it’s fair to say that I both looked like and, worse, felt like a birdbrain.
As I watched from my current perch of almost a decade’s worth of learning about ADHD and finally understanding what had stood in the way of success, I wanted to shout You’re not like the others! The sooner you realize that, the better!
Finally, she gave up and flew away.
That bird and I share a common fate: if we try to be something we’re not, we’ll fail. We have to find situations that match our natural abilities and talents and do things our own way.
It only took that woodpecker four minutes to figure that out. Me, it took 47 years to quit the tap-tap-tapping (which in my case was the tapping of my foot, the drumming of my fingers). What a relief to realize I had to do things differently, and that I should be doing different things.
If you’re feeling frustrated and wondering why things are so hard for you when they look so easy for others, maybe it’s time to fly the coop and start putting your energies into something that will feed rather than deplete you!
Trust me, spring will come. You’ll find your wings and soar.