Sometimes you can’t help but notice the things that stand out, things that are unique in their surroundings, things that “just don’t belong.” Like these colorful kayaks in the midst of this frosty scene before me this morning. The image was so compelling it drew me outdoors before I was even properly attired. the neat, hard lines of stacked boats against a backdrop of soft, curves of snow and twisty, grey branches Here on frosty-wintry Neebish Island, Michigan, these kayaks are the only color I see as my eyes scan the frozen river that runs in front of the cabin.
Just an hour ago I awoke to the sound of nothingness…quiet stillness…and it jolted me awake. Silence in the midst of a noisy life…that’s a standout. Brightly colored kayaks stacked up beside a frozen lake…beautiful. Shiny, pretty things like Christmas tree lights against he dull grey-green of the fir tree. These are the things that intrigue our eyes, snatch our attention away from dullness, pull our thoughts from our sometimes-dull surroundings. This sort of stimulation is sheer pleasure, seeding our lives with joy and inspiration amidst the often-boring status quo of life. But I have a question: If we who have ADHD are so good at noticing and celebrating what “stands out” around us, why are we so good at trying to hide <strong>ourselves?</strong><em>
Take an adult with ADHD. People <strong>notice </strong>this adult. People see the unique energy and quick speech, the social differences, the blurting out of thoughts at rapid fire, the shifting of attention from interest to interest. Sure, people might smirk and whisper, but they do notice. Why, just because we are not “typical” or “common,” do we feel ashamed to stand out? It doesn’t really need repeating that our society, our culture, is not set up to utilize our strengths and accept our methods and pace, but there- I’ve said it- and it didn’t hurt. So why did I spend thirty years being gun-shy of others noticing my differences?
Perhaps it is time for you to let go of the fear of standing out, the fear of others’ opinions, and celebrate your uniqueness. Is that possible? What makes you stand out? And who says these traits are negative?
Years ago I made a list (or maybe twelve) of my character qualities, including those things for which strangers and managers gave me grief. Over several years with good counselors and self-help books I chipped away at traits that <em>should</em> be diminished (like my quick temper), and began to celebrate my unique ADHD strengths. This practice has set me free to be the person I was meant to be amidst a brigade of “lemmings”- look-alike adults who try to follow an unwritten societal code of behavior and appearance. Do you really, truly, wish to be like everyone else? Sure, we could temper how and when we blurt out the truth, keep track of money we spend, and how often we want to switch jobs, but these are things all adults need to work on. But what is left is a colorful list of unique and wonderful qualities that adults with ADHD possess. Can you see these as standouts? As shiny, pretty things that can captivateand inspire others?
Take a few moments to jot down a few traits for which you give yourself grief. Are there things for which you often find yourself apologizing before anyone even says anything? Are there times you realize that people “gave you that look” after you spoke? Has a manager or coworker ever said “I just can’t understand what you’re saying”? Write down those things which nag at you about yourself. Then look at each point with a more positive spin: “Other people only <em>wish </em><strong>they could_______ like I do.”