To the beginning (some time after 1978)
I was a bright student. In elementary school I often had high grades. Nearly straight “A” student with high grades. Though my report cards if I look back on them say “Evan has so much potential, if he would just apply himself…”
But as a high performing student nobody ever thought much.
By high school things changed. I started smoking a lot of pot. I often didn’t go to school. I got a criminal record at a young age. The school had a ‘*’ on my attendance sheets saying they had given up trying to discipline me for attendance. I would walk out in the middle of class because I was bored and wanted to do something else.
I once asked an English professor why he made jokes about me never doing my homework while he came down hard on others. He said it was because I was fully capable of doing the work, but just didn’t want to, where as they needed to be pushed to do the practice to be able to gain the skills.
I would get a job and then quit. In one case I made a poor choice that got me fired (and a criminal record). At one point I quit my job, wanting something different and walked away from my home and found myself living on the streets. My mother told me to go back to school, so I went out the next day and signed up for a college course in 3D animation before the industry took off; it seemed interesting. But I didn’t follow through on that career after school.
I found myself jumping from job to job. I would get bored and quit. I had a student debt that I couldn’t pay. My grandfather told me that he didn’t care what I did in life, but just to be good at something. The word ‘potential’ stirred feelings of anger. As a young adult living with my mother, she eventually told me to leave, because she knew keeping me at home wasn’t helping.
Here I was, unable to keep a job. Unable to explain myself to the bill collectors. A criminal record. Smoking pot all the time to not feel. I was a failure. Kicked out of my home I decided that day it was time to give up. I couldn’t decide if I should try and die or go live on the streets where I didn’t have to try and live up to my own expectations.
It was that day my future wife took me into her home; with a child already she told me she needed me to be a parent. We were both broken; but I agreed to do this for the long term. I won’t get into the challenges of an undiagnosed ADHD trying to live with an undiagnosed Aspergers but I can assure you it came with challenges.
When I was quitting yet another job (a failure at supporting my family) I went to my family doctor for depression. Shortly after I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 26(ish). I wish I could say that was a turning point for me. It wasn’t. I was too lost in my own chaos to be able to try and understand what that really meant. I stopped seeing the psychiatrist. But I did start volunteering, and with my wife’s support I went back to finish my high school.
People around me started believing in me. In crazy ways. Though I saw a failure, they saw a leader. Maybe this was the beginning of the turning point; with a long road still ahead.
By the time I was about 30 I had randomly picked my family up and moved them from Central Canada to the West Coast over about a 3 month period. We arrived with no plan other than to leave our past behind. (We still bring a lot of baggage). It took a few years to start to find a groove, but when my wife told me that if we ever had to take welfare again, she would leave.
I decided to find a job. This time I was going to stay. For at least a full year. Quite the life goal for somebody in their mid 30’s. I did it. In fact I did it well. I went into retail where I could jump from person to person. In time I started to feel a bit of confidence in it. Over the years, instead of changing companies I changed roles. I did everything in that store. I could adapt to whatever the needs were at the time. I made it to lower management. But my ADHD (That I still didn’t think about or understand) created my ceiling.
I worked under a horrible manager that destroyed me emotionally. (and the rest of the staff). I eventually got him fired. My co-workers were told by other leaders that I was the only one fighting for them. That fight eventually cost me my job as well. But I managed to put in 7 years, moved up the ‘ranks’ and had people who appreciated me. Mission accomplished.
Finally with confidence I was able to approach a new company. I succeeded in technical support as an individual who could jump from one issue to the next, learn and gain context quickly, embracing new challenges every 10-15 minutes. Again, I started moving up the ranks. To second level support. But this time I didn’t want management where I needed to try and schedule and coordinate others; not so good at that. Hell, I can’t even schedule myself.
I moved on to data science (without going to school for it). I work from home and am given full autonomy over my job. If I need to learn a new skill to accomplish my goals, I am free to deep-dive that and learn the @#$% out of it; my brain can chase new things and it’s promoted. I have created enough daily schedule to be able to make sure I go to work every day. I still bounce around between different group’s needs and adjust to a constantly changing work environment. I have now been in the same position for over a year. (another first).
Taking advantage of being a remote worker I rather impulsively moved my family across the country again to where housing was more affordable (Western Canada is insane). I have a good job. I own a home. From somebody who lived on the streets I never saw this coming.
But days come where I can’t focus. I find myself pacing around my home, jumping on youtube. I just can’t do what I’m supposed to be doing; and I realized at 40 I need to pay attention (no pun intented) to adhd. People say meds help. But moving across the country I don’t have a family doctor. I can’t gain access to psychiatrist services without one and I’m looking at years of waiting before I can get ‘into’ the system. I have to learn to do this without the medication so many people say help.
I pour myself a double shot of 1.5x caffeine espresso. Jump on youtube and start learning what I should have 15 years ago. I find a tribe. I’m not alone. I’ll figure this out. And that’s my story.