I could have done so much

Things I wanted to do, but I have to “fit in” to an office environment to have the opportunity / right / chance to try to do them. I just can’t handle a “regular” job – ahem, wonder why? could it be … dunhdunhdunh … ADHD? And yet my longer-term goals and hopes and dreams all revolve around getting to a point of authority in certain settings that are, inherently in this day and age, entire office-oriented.

F.e. I’m interested in international law and justice. But I can’t just go out and be a “freelance international jurisprudential scholar and advocate.” I have to have a setting within which to do the work. And yet I’m terrible in the setting that’s available – courts, lawyers’ offices, international political organizations, and/or writing scholarly articles. There are a few other career trajectories I’ve dreamed about, I’ve wanted to attain, too. But they have the same limitation – the required setting is one which utterly prevents me from achieving anything. Usually I don’t even make it a month before people are shuffling me out the door.

I have a completely different inherent make-up and metabolism, a different biology, than would be required for me to do the things that I want to do. It’s like being born three feet tall without hands yet dreaming of becoming a professional basketball dunking specialist.

OK rant rant … I just feel so thwarted, so left out. Usually we see something in our society like, “if you put in the work then maybe you’ll get the reward.” But I’ve always felt a different feedback, like, “if you put in the work then we’re damned sure you won’t get the reward, but some slick operator who is half as competent as you will get the reward that you want, and you probably deserve it more than him, and everyone else will disagree and never see your inherent value because he’s more conventional than you, which is exactly what makes him LESS COMPETENT than you but also MORE REWARDED by the rest of society than you are.” Grump grump. I’m just … so … OVER it. Tired. Frustrated. Exhausted. No opportunities. Do all the right things, fail fail fail, watch my classmates and co-workers skyrocket past me, hear my friends say either “I dunno man, you don’t seem happy here” and “It’s no wonder they fired you, you hated having to be in an office,” but also, “I don’t know why they fired you, you were our top producer, you got the award!” and anyway, how do you be an international lawyer without being in an office? Geez.

Oh and by the way. By next week I’ll be back on this forum saying I never wanted to be an international lawyer, I wanted to be a chef. And a professional soccer player. And a piano virtuoso. (I really love playing musical instruments. I love practicing! I just never had instruction when I was young, none at all, certainly not young enough to learn enough fast enough to be able to do anything with it.)

OK rant rant … thank you for your time …

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Regarding your international law career: maybe a smaller firm would be more suitable for you, one in which your unique nature might be better appreciated.

Another idea: I worked at a university for 10 years which has a college of law, and it seemed that at least 3 out of every 4 law professors were also practicing lawyers at the same time. (The practicing lawyers would generally teach 1 or 2 classes per term, some would only teach 1 class in only 1 term per year.) Others who were full-time faculty were retired from practicing law, or taking a 1+ year sabbatical from their practice (but may have been “consulting” on the side).

I’m not really familiar with the legal career field, and most of my time working in “office” work was in information technology… which has its own nature. (Many people who work in IT would not fit well into traditional office environments… they would be the workers in the margins, or repeatedly being forced out, like you have experienced.)

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Speaking from experience, small business seem like the way to go when it comes to work-related ADHD challenges. It’s easier to get work done when everyone is on the same team.

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Thanks for your thoughts, folks. Not sure small business / academia will solve my problem, I’ve been fired from a wide range of settings. Not to belabor the point, but I think I’ve pretty much given up on the-traditional-office type office settings. Anyway, there’s no such thing as “doing international justice” in a small firm. You “do international justice” by working for a government. In an office.

So, yeah, it’s just, back to the drawing board.

In fact, I’ve become quite talented at finding the enjoyable things in life, the valid and worthwhile, by looking in the margins and the edges. I have pretty much had it hammered home, that my career won’t be fulfilling. So I’ve had to learn, the hard way, to find fulfillment elsewhere. And had to learn to remember to keep finding it elsewhere. It’s probably very typical of most ADHDers, that we have to learn to find “sneaky” ways to get good things out of life, since “normal” ways aren’t going to bear much fruit for us.

Just some thoughts before I go to bed …

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Hmm, interesting…have you thought about a writing career?
If your perspective about international law is anything like your perspective on how you find enjoyment in life, then do you think you could write compelling papers, articles, and books for your peers?

If you make a name for yourself, then maybe you could finagle a comfortable working arrangement for yourself, such that your contributions would be recognized and appreciated, while none would dare suggest you be hampered by “the-traditional-office” working environment.

Maybe it’s just a daydream, or the stuff of legends, that “great minds” of decades past who were afforded their eccentricities.

Alas, even with studies documenting that certain working environments (notably “the open office”) aren’t conducive to the best work outcomes, bureaucracy and bureaucrats continue to try to use the same mold for every work need.


Sometime within the last few years, I read that repeated studies have revealed one interesting and surprising (to me, at least initially surprising) quality about working environments… ceiling height can influence between creative idea generating or more focusing detail-oriented mindset. Higher ceilings promote more open mindedness. Lower ceilings promote more restrictive thinking patterns. (I have high ceilings in my current house, as well as much of my last one. When I need to try to focus, I make an artificial lower ceiling for myself by wearing a hat with a brim; usually a baseball hat, but sometimes the fedora in my profile pic. … This trick seems to help, but perhaps that’s just the placebo effect.)

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Always wanted to “be a writer.” Then I found out what the life is like. It’s all these half-finished half-started projects, no income (like, literally, ZERO dollars per hour), and stress from deadlines. Then you do a great job and you get, again, no income (literally, ZERO). So it’s OK to write stuff but it’s not a business model.

Also, you have to be able to be a self-starter and to organize your day and to take care not to get distracted and to generally drive yourself to do the work. In other words, nobody with ADHD could ever possibly be a success as a writer. :slight_smile:

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ADHD itself is a spectrum, with varying symptoms and abilities. David Allen, the author of “Getting Things Done” has ADHD. I had a feeling he did when I read about his having been in 35 professions before age 35! Later confirmed via some articles. I think if you can break down your work in smaller chunks and write when the muse strikes, you can get there. In fact online blogs seem very doable – most of them seem to contain just one idea anyway, if not zero! And there are sites where you can make some money via writing. As you get positive feedback from your readers, it can spur you to write so a blog can be empowering. And when you get enough articles, you can turn them into a book. There are a bunch of books like that!

The self-starting is the hard part but perhaps if you write out a rough outline, you can work on one part a day and within a week you can have an article! The key is to avoid editing at all costs. This is where “Morning Pages”, the kind Julia Cameron has been advocating can be useful, even if you don’t write religiously every morning. It can teach to you write in a stream of consciousness way, without editing. Because editing and wanting to fix grammar error or write something differently can break your flow.

[edit: I should mention that for a few years I tried to write down the new ideas I had. Not every day or even every week but whenever an idea came into my head, I would think over it for a day or so and then next morning set it down in a file. Often in the process of writing it down my enthusiasm for it would flag but at least I would stop thinking about it! Some time I would get a related idea - even months or years later and I would add to it. It was a useful exercise. Editing also negatively impacts creativity]

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I guess I haven’t come across any of those articles. I just spent 20 minutes searching, and only came across a “Dave Allen” with ADHD, a psychologist named David Allen who writes posts about ADHD, and a licensed counselor who works with people who have ADHD… Plus several links to webpages that promote the GTD method for ADHD.

I tried the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method at least 3 times, but wasn’t able to fully adopt it, or keep going with it longer that 2-3 weeks. In my opinion, as clear cut and organized as it is, the system is still a little too complicated in general for the ADHD brain (at least for mine).

  • I have been playing with the idea, off and on, of a way to adapt a system like it…but haven’t had the wherewithal to actually do so. (The system that I envision is actually more similar to the one developed by LinkedIn Learning productivity trainer, Dave Crenshaw, who in his adult years was diagnosed with “off the charts ADHD”.)
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As a (currently unpublished) writer myself I feel the need to add my thoughts to this.

  • Every writer has a pile of unfinished work.
  • You won’t be getting money immediately and you might not get much period. Most writers only write part-time. Writers aren’t paid a wage, they’re paid royalties, per word, or per article.
  • The stress is very, very real. Especially if you throw in all the work you have to do before you even get past unofficial deadlines and goals.
  • Yes, you have to take the initiative.
  • Yes, you have to be organized.

Writing is almost always a solitary endeavor.
—Susan L. Stewart

After saying all that, however, many ADHD people are successful writers. I personally know some, in fact. ADHD is an advantage in writing because of greater creativity, stronger determination, and the ability to hyperfocus. I may not have finished my own book yet, but I have been successfully managing a blog all by myself for 2 years now. Jessica McCabe started a YouTube channel and then these forums. Simone Biles has ADHD and became an Olympic athlete.

With all due respect, your brain is not allowed to define what or who you are. You get to choose what you want to pursue. If that means writing, then write. If that means not writing, then don’t write. I don’t want anyone to be discouraged from being a writer just because they have ADHD.

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@j_d_aengus you’re right; the links I saw were about different Dave/David Allens. Should have actually read those articles :frowning: I am very glad you tried to find those links and called me on it because that caused me to doing my own search which led me to this interview where Tim Ferris talks with David Allen of GTD. It gave me a better understanding of Allen and GTD as I am trying yet again to read his GTD book and apply it. Every time I read it I learn something new. I will create a separate article about that.

Note: it took me far less than 85 minutes to read the transcript!

Though the fact remains that a lot of people with ADHD have written books. Here is an article about writers with ADHD.

And here is an article on why ADHD brains can make great writers:

And here is an article that may help ADHD brains write:

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Have you heard of Nassim Taleb’s concept of “Mediocristan vs Extremistan”?
In two words, it’s about “All participants take a little” vs “Winner takes all, losers take none” approach.

Thing is, looks like the best working life strategy is making sure you survive by doing some amount of mediocre work, but pouring most of your time into creative areas.
There is simply no point to pour much time into simple work, you won’t get as much returns on it as you had lost in your limited living and working time.
Also, if you don’t put some time into it, there are chances not to financially survive until your creative job gives its fruits.

As usual, i’ll put there my POV onto “if there seems no creative application of me as i am in surrounding world as it is, then i should find a creative application of me myself - like creating my stuff, building my stuff, learning to solve my own problems, etc.”. It is also a creative part of life in my opinion.
Perhaps there wouldn’t be great success, but it surely leads to a more happy life then just contentrating on work you have trouble with.

Can’t say for sure how that applies to your interest in international law, but if there are possibilities to work in it part time, and part-time do something that gets you food and shelter without much thinking, you probably would be better that way.

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That didn’t go well.

I wrote a very long and disappointed reply that said, in several ways, “I feel attacked.” I know that nobody wanted to attack me, but that line-up of typical ADHD advice, and the hammering hammering hammering home of “try harder” and “yes you can”-ism isn’t working on me right now. It’s just suggesting to me, “you have to be someone different.” And, “you have to fix your ADHD with these tricks” (all of which require non-ADHD skills; like, “keep a regular journal” … how? to record my inability to do things regularly? WTF!?). My reply went into how much work for how little money the writing life is, how much it’s a frustration and disappointment to me, how I’ve tried (though I never actually set out to be involved in it, somehow it chose me) to succeed at writing-related positions, how the typical office is something I loathe and in which I function very poorly (I have ADHD, right?), how … all these other things.

Please don’t suggest that I dive back into the quagmire. I’ve drowned in it several times already. Please find me a world that isn’t a quagmire in the first place.

If I can figure out how to use “spoiler” tags or other ways I’ll re-post that longer reply, but only with the caveat that it sounds rather nasty and defensive. But that’s because I am feeling attacked right now, by the very people I wanted most to support me. For example, don’t tell me there are some easy ways to do well at something I’ve failed at. That just makes me feel all the more like I failed at the problem in the face of what other people find to be easy solutions to the problem. Don’t tell me how to manage my ADHD. That just makes me feel that I have to treat myself as though I am broken, wrong.

I’m not broken. I have no debt, no dependents, no children out of wedlock, no past spouses or girlfriends who are angry at me about break-ups or failures to treat them well, an excellent education, two higher degrees, licenses to be a lawyer in two US States, a good sense of humor, training in music and rudimentary skill on several instruments, a love of keyboard harmony music theory, knowledge of the number-line and the prime number theorem, a fairly physically fit body (for a 56 year old) with only a few congenital ailments which were not caused by my own actions (born with bad sinuses, for example), all my teeth and only one cavity filling, no addictions, no history of hard-drug use (alcohol alone and even that was in moderation), no current drug use at all (not even alcohol), no criminal record, no misdemeanors (just a few speeding tickets, the most recent almost two decades ago, IIRC), all my credit cards paid off, all my student loans paid off, no pending litigation against me, my taxes all lined up well (though I haven’t done this year’s yet), I took a shower today, I made my own breakfast and lunch and they were healthy from-scratch meals with a lot of protein and fresh vegetables, my clothes are washed and clean, the yard has been mown recently, I know how to start a fire from scratch, I vote liberal because I really do want us all to get along and I don’t use racial slurs in my speech, I treat my parents well and clean up after them now in their senectude, I have no enemies that I know of, I never missed a deadline for any major projects and I’m always appreciated as an over-achiever and over-performer at my workplaces – though they always fire me – and ya know what? It sounds to me like – I AIN’T BROKEN SO STOP TRYING TO FIX ME.

Harrumph.

I want somewhere that I can be myself. Why won’t people approve of the real me? In my work life, nothing is authentic, everything is some kind of pseudo-new-age “mind technology” about tricking people. The various logical conundrums sound to me like trying to date in junior-high – Billy said he likes Janie but that only means he said it because Janie is best friends with Julie and Julie wants to kiss Mikey so you have to understand that … blah blah … can’t we just be grown-ups? There’s nobody being honest. There’s no decency. The rich people snigger at me because I’m not “one of them” and somehow I know they’re right. The guy across the street who just moved in, who bought the house sight-unseen for a million and a half dollars, is half my age but got his first job at $400K right out of college. What did I do wrong? I went to a good school, I got a good education, but then I started as an intern UNPAID. It’s been slow incremental growth (or decline) for me from that basis ever since. And same for him. But his starting point was RIDICULOUSLY much higher than mine. So why did HE get a good job and a start on the right foot? Now, if he REALLY screws up, he MIGHT get lowered to a mere half-a-million a year. Imagine, being FREE to DROP DOWN to an income that’s half-a-million? WTF?! I’m struggling at $10K and hoping to grind it up, by extreme effort, to $12K. I want a fair deal. It doesn’t have to be huge like his, but it just seems like SUCH an extreme disparity that something must be going wrong here. He talks about how hard he works. He takes three-week vacations, paid.

Ah me. Thanks for your efforts. But your suggestions all really seem to be barking up the wrong tree, for me, right now. Sorry I can’t absorb them with the good will that (I’m sure) they were intended to be presented with.

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No offense taken, as even the best of intentions can cause any of us to say the wrong things, when we only meant to be helpful and encouraging.

@cliftonprince you are valued here precisely for being who you are, with nothing else expected of you.

My apologies for taking the conversation down the wrong path. I value your honesty and your feedback. And I definitely know how cathartic it can be to feel free to openly talk about what causes pain, frustration, and disappointment.

Clifton, in this little world-within-a-world that we share on this forum, you are much appreciated.

I humbly ask your forgiveness for any pain I might have caused you. I do count you as a friend on this forum, and in the spirit of friendship, I only wish to do what I can to help.

So, I shall try better to make good use a skill I’d been neglecting to use… listening/reading, with empathy.

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I’m sorry if i touched something i wasn’t supposed to, Clifton.
I’m pretty sure nobody here means you or anyone else there is broken, ill, or somehow unfit.

It is sometimes good to clarify - do i want to get some advice, or do i want to be heard?
Most people - males at least - tend to give advice when asked. There are a lot of books on that matter, as this misunderstanding upsets a lot of marriages.
But sometimes advice isn’t needed at all and looks like it is best to clarify that right from the start.

Hey, that’s a nice “How Good I Am” list, BTW. Great job! That’s a nice practice of reminding ourselves about that.


I can talk lots about inequality too. What worked best for me is totally ignoring all that, well, bunch - as if they don’t exist at all. That doesn’t work well if there are some literally at the other side of your street, but that’s not the case here. That kind wants plebs out of their sight too, and they build walls like 3-6 meters tall around their property here. You probably get the sentiment.
Well, down with the blood boiling, up with ignoring. The less i think about that, the more i am able to live in my own personal world. Like, no matter for me how easy this or that guy gets this amount of goods - i will get it for that amount of my energy. Then i should figure out how i could get more for less, or how to prolong the spending of that goods, or do i even need that amount of that good, etc.

I don’t want my life being about what’s right or wrong anymore. It is way too easy to find some depressing wrongs and cling to it, causing yourself pain and not actually fixing it. I spent like a decade on that, couldn’t stop squat, got a nasty depression, and then hell went loose anyway - so what was the point?
I want my life being about restoring and riding bikes, watching some cute and/or funny anime, listening and playing some music, cooking some tasty food - you know, the actual likeable stuff that makes life worth living instead of strangling yourself right here and right now.
Let the next young person with any optimistic view on their future figure the wrongs out. I’m out of that fuel in my 30, at 56 you could be too, even if you managed to spend it much more efficiently. That’s not being broken, it’s being empty. Perhaps there is a way of getting refilled, perhaps there isn’t, who knows. I don’t now.

Well, there were advice too, sorry if you don’t need it. I just wanted to post it, maybe that’s me wanting to be heard too. Never intended to upset you.

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@cliftonprince I think many of us can relate to your struggle. I know I do. And indeed it’s tempting to start giving out well meant advices.

In the end it’s all about finding that sweet spot where you feel ‘seen and valued’ for who you are and what you deserve. And you are the only one that could ever answer where and what that might be.

I think I speak for all of us that we don’t want you to give up on that.

You know yourself very well. Your weaknesses, yes. But more importantly: your strengths. You also already know what you really don’t want. So there is that.

PS: Don’t compare yourself to others. There are always better and worse people out there.

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“piano virtuoso” . . . me 2

By accident I fell into, pursued, and worked for over 35 yrs. as a Social Worker . . .

I would have liked to have been a classical pianist, playing concerti (Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninov, etc.) . . . On the one hand . . . Oh yes, and on the other hand . . . Can they actually play different notes . . . simultaneously? Not me!

More realistically, I love doing research . . . finding obscure information . . . connecting the ". . . . " and then passing the findings onto a person who asked about X, Y or Z . . . or would likely be interested to learn something new. Had I to do it all over again (now 76 and retired), I think I would have liked a career as a research librarian in an academic setting . . . a liberal arts college / university.

Enough daydreaming . . .

:sunglasses:

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My rather scatelogical reply requires a rewrite. I think this will do for now.

Maybe we should just have a “I need to vent.” thread where the expectation is that no one replies, ever. One could also explicitly state in the message intro that “Not here for help, just venting.”

Obviously it will also highlight just how diverse our diversity is.

I’ll just leave you all with this new parody song:

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Also this one from the same people

“My brain doesn’t work like that … my brain just goes OFF and ON.”
“redrosidytivitcarepyhticifednoitnetta”

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So I spent ALL DAY yesterday and the day before at a (well done) continuing professional education event. Hour after hour of sitting still at a round ballroom dining table at a large downtown hotel listening to speeches about specific new developments (and old developments) in my professional field. Although the speeches were performed about as professionally as possible, and were spiced up just about as much as was reasonable, of course it was … well … a marathon. I’m required to do it annually, glad I got my year’s worth of credits done (and yes, in true ADHD style, I binge-sat the whole thing, did ALL the year’s requirement in ONE FELL SWOOP).

I was a bit surprised that I didn’t go out of my skin. Maybe I’m getting older. I was able to commute home without stripping my necktie off my throat and flinging it under the streetcar halfway there. I didn’t mouthe off at anyone. I was witty and quippy when necessary, polite and helpful when called upon. I took a LOT of notes. I will probably ignore nearly all of them nearly entirely. But taking notes keeps me focused on the speaker. I’m pretty good at paying attention to speakers. I probably twitch a lot, but I also absorb the content of the talks, so, I think the learning style probably suits me and my ADHD presentation.

What bothered me, wasn’t the presentation or the fact of being required to sit through it. What bothered me, was that I’m such an outsider in my field. Everyone else has war stories about this or that work experience; I am just, like, “yeah that one time I used a photocopier and actually copied eight pages without getting fired.” Everyone else is developing a “professional persona” and has STATUS and weight. They’re running to be judge, or telling us about visiting a foreign court where they shared their important stories about the way we do things versus the way they do things, or they’ve just closed on a huge deal for a multi-million-dollar mansion. Meanwhile I’m, like, “Hi do you also type things on computers? Like, you know, things like, umm, words and phrases? With letters in them?”

It’s heart-breaking to have been wasted. They wasted my potential by demanding that I be like them. Either I’m not like them, therefore I’m not accepted in the first place and therefore don’t ever get a chance to produce; or, I do a darned good job of masquerading as though I’m like them, therefore I’m so frickin’ exhausted I can’t produce. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Where do they get the expectations? How DARE they EXPECT that I comply with their need that I be like something? I don’t demand that THEY have my height, or my last name, or that they use their left hand just because I use my left hand. I don’t insist, “hey, everybody here has to have a mole near their left thumb because I do.” How DARE they presume to enforce compliance? Who appointed THEM the arbiters of MY rightness or wrongness? Geez.

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My hypergraphia makes my wife twitch, but its one of the only ways I can really keep attention.

Checking with you first: I really want to write a piece about three specific visits to Melbourne (the nearest capital to Adelaide) the first two were in my early 20s when around the time I graduated from Engineering:

  • an Amway conference,
  • a Herbalife conference,
    and as my Early Career Researcher time started in my 50s
  • a local scientific organisation “research for providing value to business” love in/conference

Strangely reading about your current struggles and reflecting on the above it all sort of resonates with “We’re all individuals.” When in my heart of hearts I want to do it all differently, every time, so: “I’m not!”.

You’re left handed! jeez I’d give my right hand to be left handed. I know, it could be organised.

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