So, I have given myself a little time just to cogitate over WHY my past work experiences have seemed so awful to me, and I did want to respond to anything out there that might be a misunderstanding. But honestly, you’re just seeing the tip of my particular work-related ADHD iceberg here in this thread. I don’t want to have to go into my whole life-specifics, but, yeah, past employment indeed has been as bad as described above. Forgive me, I’m going to blather on and on, here. I dunno, maybe you’ll figure out where I’m coming from.
I spent a lot of time in various fields related to writing, before I returned to school and finally got the law degree, so one situation that’s been consistent with me is simply that the market for employment is rather poor, such that a type of exploitation can occur in many of the fields that I’m qualified for. Yes, I played my part, in that I’m guilty that I actually allowed it, not knowing any better, and that’s part of the reason I started this thread in the first place. Should I have just departed within maybe a week or two, after learning just how exploitative the employment situation was? There was all this “you have to care to be in this field” signals being sent … but, how would I KNOW that it was an exploitation, rather than actual fact, unless I didn’t have ADHD? And all the other signals of how you should “do extra” above and beyond the call of duty, and how you should dress up for the “job you want” rather than the job you already have – all these subtle reading tricks, I am simply INEPT at. I am really well set up to be the idiot who volunteers for the scut-jobs and then doesn’t get the credit. I don’t exactly mean to say I’m “under-appreciated” (because I suspect I’m not an ideal employee, duh!), as much as, “I don’t get the concept” at workplaces. I’m always trying to do whatever seems best for the company, the mission, the customer, whichever is appropriate, but it turns out I was supposed to do the TPS reports that are a total waste of time but they’ll be the only thing people notice. Or, vice versa, when I finally quit looking at the important (to me) stuff and just do the TPS reports because someone gave me some well-meaning advice and I actually followed it, guess what? That will be the ONE time when the rest of the workplace gets very negative about people who spend all their time on pointless tasks like TPS reports and don’t look at the more important stuff like the bottom line and the company mission.
The way I put it to my counselor is, that some people ask for help and get help, and later are thanked for having made sure they met their deadlines. Me? I get fired, for not being able to meet the deadline, when I ask for help. It’s not entirely a relating-to-people thing, part of it is just being over-qualified in an under-employment world. But largely it’s simply ADHD – I don’t get money, because I can’t put in the work, because the “stuff” that goes with work becomes so difficult to deal with that I get 9/10ths of it all wrong and have to put in so much energy to figuring out how to cope with the people. So, my example of the dry-cleaning costs is just a good metaphor. If they want me to put in that type of effort, they need to give me that type of reward, yes; but they also seem to be able, somehow, to say, “you haven’t earned the reward yet, but if you show your commitment you’ll certainly get some … later … some day.” And I never have “enough commitment” evidently.
I know it’s a lie. The “commitment” line might as well be translated from “show your commitment, we’ll eventually reward you,” to, “work for free so we don’t have to reward you.” But other people (without ADHD I suppose) seem to navigate these subtle cues and NOT get fired and DO keep job and DO continue to do good work that is appreciated and remunerated. I haven’t ever kept a job more than 18 months, and have never known why I was asked to leave. It’s always, “Well, it’s not working out,” or, “we’re seeking other opportunities,” and no documents, no review sheet, no job description, no advance warning, so, no clue.
But I don’t really WANT a job. Instead, I want income, and I want to make a difference, and I want to contribute, and I want to be valued, and I want to be PART of my society, and to help people around me. A job, it seems to me, PREVENTS all that stuff. Work is the way that society forces me to be unhappy, unproductive, and unpaid. I just don’t understand!
So, here are some of my specific complaints about workplace experiences I’ve had. I know that I don’t have a “right” to demand that things be better – it’s a free and loose market for employment, if an employer CAN get a better price or a quicker performance he can certainly look elsewhere. I can’t command the universe to be like I want it to be. I’m just listing these complaints so you can see how I intrinsically FEEL about going to work.
- I can’t stand GOING there. The preparation, the travel, the commute, the daily shower, the put-on-the-outfit, the pack-the-bag, the whoops-I-left-something-at-home takes over DAYS of my life.
- I can’t stand BEING there. They give me small quiet spaces where the lighting is inadequate, the neighboring people are bigots and idiots, the kitchen is inadequate for creating a healthy meal.
- I can’t stand REPEATING it. If I did it yesterday, that means, to me, inherently, that I have therefore DONE it. Doing it again implies that I somehow failed at it the first time.
- I don’t have the energy to go for all day long. If I arrive at 8 am, I will not be productive until 11 am, because I’m so goldurn exhausted from having gotten up so early. If I do get productive at maybe 10 am, I will burn out by 3 pm. And if I’ve been working at some workplace for literally 8 am to 3 pm, then, I’m going to need two days worth of rest to recover from that massive burst of energy that was required.
- I don’t have the energy to go for multiple days in a row. If I go on Monday and somehow, through some sleight of hand magic, fool my boss into thinking that I worked from 8 am to 5 or 6 pm, I will need (as mentioned in item 4) at least Tuesday off, maybe also Wednesday. If, conversely, I go on Monday AND Tuesday, then I’m going to need from Wednesday to Sunday off, just to recoup, to recover, to take a breather. What do I do in all that time? NOTHING. I sleep a lot, I lie on my back on a couch and look at the ceiling, I regenerate my brain. I can’t even make sentences by Wednesday afternoon if I’ve been at work Monday and Tuesday all day. And if I do work a whole Week of regular work days, well then, it’s time to take a Month off or else, so it feels like, to me, I’ll either fall asleep while driving to work and cause a multi-car accident and get killed, or I’ll go bonkers and fetch a large semi-automatic weapon and start initiating random acts of violence against myself or my co-workers.
Of course I’m being sarcastic about violence against others. I wouldn’t shoot up co-workers, honest. I would shoot myself. I get slowly more and more suicidal over the course of several months at a workplace. I have gone so far as to buy a long-gun, partly thinking I would accompany a friend who was going to teach me deer hunting, but also secretly thinking to myself that the suicide option would therefore be one step closer to being right at hand. I returned the gun, explained it to the guy at the shop, and he was ((this delighted me, what a decent man)) very supportive and helpful, accepted the merchandise without any complaint, gave me phone numbers. This was in 2005, it’s been a while, I survived that incident, and I feel like I would never again consider ending my own life. In fact, I hadn’t really ideated the notion; I was just toying with it, to myself. But the information gives you an idea of how DEEP into unhappiness the “typical work” experience drives me.
More about work:
6. They give me too much to do. Say people usually can perform a certain task – riveting a widget? – about once an hour. Say the average new worker can rivet a widget about once every hour and a half; and as he learns more riveting, he gets quicker and more efficient at it. So, when he starts, maybe 5 a day is reasonable? But by the end of the first few weeks, he might even be doing 10 a day, right? They ask me for 155 per day. PER DAY. Idiotic. I look at my boss as though he’s either joking or nuts, whenever he comes in with something like, “Oh, can you take care of this little thing quickly before the meeting tomorrow? It’s only SEVENTEEN THOUSAND PAGES OF AN ENCYCLOPEDIA THAT YOU HAVE TO MEMORIZE AND TRANSLATE INTO PUNJABI!” So if the average human should be asked to do 10 a day, I am asked (it feels) to do 155 a day. What?
7. I get slower and worse at it over time, not better or more efficient or faster. I slowly learn more and more nuance about what I want to do, with any complex task. It just seems quite natural to me, that I should therefore take greater care, the better I am at it. For example, for writing a press release, a usual single page of quick information, double-spaced, for use in typical media markets, the first time I ever did that, I just typed it out and took about two hours total to complete it. Boss was OK with it, gave me some suggestions, I began to learn about journalism. Now that I’ve been doing it for about ten years, I can honestly say it takes me six weeks to write a press release. I need to do the research, I don’t want to lie and make it up like I did the first time. I need to learn about the client and the outlet that the release will go to. I probably want someone to look it over. The more press releases I write, the worse I get at them. Getting faster at a task, it seems to me, is only for people who don’t mind being bad at the task. I can’t rivet 155 widgets a day, and I can’t do press releases FASTER and FASTER. It’s like Zeno’s paradox – at some point, if work were perpetually accelerating, then there would be literally zero time taken to complete a press release, they would write themselves automatically!
The above are simply some random musings about the work world. It’s why I wanted to start this thread, to know how to figure out if other people were having similar experiences. So, I get exploited, and not paid very well. I know that I have no right to demand that the rest of the world acquiesce to the preposterous (but totally natural!) expectations and assumptions that I have, about how it works. I know that I can’t be telling a potential employer, “Look, I want a full time job with a legitimate living wage, enough to afford my dry cleaning! And I’m only working every third day of the week because when I work on Monday, I need to take Tuesday and Wednesday off. You will get used to it. Please pay a full salary while I work one third of the time that most people do.” Of course I can’t (and shouldn’t) be trying to make that kind of demand on the employment place, on the overall market that we have of people and payment and jobs and so on. The expectations and assumptions that I have, don’t work right at all.
But it still FEELS like I’ve got those expectations and assumptions. I can’t help it. It’s where my head is “at” and it doesn’t change just because I try harder and harder. I’m so glad I have a diagnosis of ADHD, because at least it explains to me why I haven’t (yet) “fit in” with all the happy campers who are being good little cogs and happy-camper wheels in the work machine.
So, you’re right to misunderstand my situation. Dry cleaned clothing, was indeed something that one workplace required, even though I was VOLUNTEER at the time. I got suckered by them. Another workplace had me going to New York, Chicago, and other major cities three times a year, expecting me to cover the cost of airfare, and all food and housing while there, while paying me annually US$19,000.oo (before taxes and so on) total. If I didn’t pay my own way to the important annual trade-shows and conferences, I wasn’t “showing my commitment” to that industry. Other people somehow know to navigate around that type exploitation or, in situations where they do decide to stick with the outlay in order to make their way in that industry, the outlay and commitment turn out to be worth it to them in the longer term because they value the sector or industry that they’ve chosen. They “get ahead” by taking some risks and by making some initial investments that DON’T have immediate pay-off, such as paying their own way to the conferences. As I described, however, I didn’t value that industry in which I was stuck … AND I NEVER WILL … no matter what industry it is, because it’s … AT WORK. And therefore it’s PREVENTING me from being a good person, being productive, helping my fellow man.
Well, that’s the rant. Maybe it doesn’t belong here. It isn’t “valid reasoning,” it’s just, “how I feel.” It points out my intrinsic faults and inabilities, most of which relate to ADHD. The description, by another respondent, about a teacher who gets up all groggy and hates getting out of bed, but THEN when the teacher gets TO THE CLASSROOM the zingo-bingo gets started in the brain, because that’s the kind of work they teacher wants to do and can do – this anecdote rings very true for me. I have that zingo-bingo in the brain, for a great many things, and I am competent to the point of excellent at those things. Riveting widgets is NOT one of those things.