Yes, I’ve felt often that same sensation, that GETTING work is more daunting (or, more easily avoided) than DOING work for a position that I already might have.
This is, at least partly, if not entirely, an initiative problem, for me. Executive function, taking the initiative, call it whatever – the job search simply never “gets started” because (well, duh …) ADHD.
On a related point, how do ADHD people run their own businesses? I just don’t understand! They (Hallowell, etc.) say that being an Entrepreneur is something which many many ADHD people do, because we crave the excitement and the independence and variety. And yet, for me, the self-starter aspects, all of which are definitely required for successful Entrepreneurship, would be EXACTLY the things which ADHD would prevent. Time to set up an LLC! Nah, I’ll watch cartoons. Gotta build that business plan! OK, right after I mop the floor … no deadlines? No work done! I have TONS of great ideas about how to run a good business. I don’t ever get past the thinking-about-it phase, and I really don’t WANT to have to DO it. So, I’m a bit conflicted on the notion of Entrepreneurship and its relation to ADHD. On the one hand, yes, seems at first glance to be a good choice. On the other hand, but really, NO, no no, not a choice for me.
Yup. This is a hallmark (you may already know) of many mental conditions, syndromes, illnesses. “I just don’t know how to DO normalcy” is precisely the content of Jessica’s major self-revelation in her (important, very valuable!) TED talk (cf. video, I’m sure you’ve heard about it and probably seen it yourself). I too feel left out of the average, the normal, the “adulting” phenomenon. But then again – nobody is ever given the list of instructions for life in general. As a purely philosophical matter, unrelated to ADHD and its treatment, we ALL are born unknowing and unable to do anything other than use our own resources to figure out how to build ourselves while having to undergo the very act of building ourselves without having any resources because … duh … we haven’t built them yet! I sometimes think that having an ADHD diagnosis is just another new way to say, “Didn’t figure it out the same way that other people did” to a zillion common tasks – dating, picking a career, going to school, putting away the car keys, etc… The “5 years” question (where do you want to be? ON A BEACH DRINKING A COCKTAIL, AND NOT AT THIS FURKIN’ PLACE, CERTAINLY!) seems perpetual (there never will be a time in the future at which point a future five more years will not be imaginable; therefore, there is no answer, because there is no end to the “more” in the “5 years” concept) and pointless to me. One helpful person here on the forums suggested to me, in another thread, that we ADHDers need to look for jobs by thinking, “What position can I survive for the next 18 months without going totally bat-shoot-crazy in the interim?” If you go INTO the job interviews with that assumption, at least secretly inside your own mind, maybe the disappointment of inevitably going OUT OF the jobs themselves develops a different character to it? In five years I WANT to be so wealthy I never work again, mister Potential-Employer, and therefore your question is moot. In other words, the only way of thinking about work that makes sense to me, is how to do just barely enough of it that I get to end it. If I have to be at that employment for five years, well, that’s five years too long, but at least it isn’t six years.
As far as being OK with freelancing as you get up to my more advanced age of 53? Well, if you’re OK, then OK! I’m not, personally, OK with my situation, of the perpetual under-earn to the point of being unable to support myself. I keep feeling like some flood-wall will break, the dam will burst, I’ll crash through into a remarkably fulfilling and lucrative period of my life. It’s like, I’m looking to find the one subtle clue which will make it all turn out to operate properly for me; or even, the seventeen clues, a combination of things, which will help.
But honestly nothing HELPS. At least so far, all the advice simply leads me toward how to capitulate to unhappiness. “Hey, here’s how to make yourself do things that cause you to feel miserable. You have to manage yourself differently in order to force that misery onto yourself, because you have ADHD. Most people are more capable of volunteering for the misery, but you need to use Pomodoro to enforce the misery. Either way, here’s the ticket to misery. Use Pomodoro! And a bunch of other techniques. Soon enough, you too will be just as miserable as you can possibly cause yourself to be.” Why would I want that?
I suppose the simplest answer is, because one must do so. For so many people, not working means, in some way or other, not eating, not paying rent, not having a safe home. I am lucky that my mother and father have only one child, and I am staying with them in order to aid their senior lives during their retirements. For a lot of other people, they don’t have the luxury of this situation in their lives. And yet, I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of working stiffs out there are getting only ONE reward from their work, the reward that they are being paid adequately. (In fact, the question of adequate payment is one which fuels much of my under-earning. I am often asked to “show your commitment” through under-paid or even fully free, volunteership, positions, for several YEARS before a permanent hiring will take place. I find that demand of the employment market to be quite idiotic. I’m NOT committed to something that doesn’t pay me adequately, duh.) I feel like an awful lot of people don’t have to go through the painful soul-searching, the death-knells of grief, that we ADHDers go through, just to get to the office in the morning. So, when the issue of “why do you go to work” does come up for other people, and then is compared to my situation, I do realize that my fact of not being financially forced into it, is a difference between me and them. But it’s not the only difference. The other folks are also having a much less burdensome EXPERIENCE day after day. They aren’t putting up with the level of misery I experience, ONLY for the money. They’re also NOT experiencing the misery in the first place! So, the money becomes this “extra” thing added to an already decent experience; or at least it is just one motivator, but not the SOLE motivator, for their doing it.
For example, some people choose to work when they don’t have to! I actually didn’t know, until later in my adult life, that plenty of people who have decent jobs would still do those jobs even if the pay dried up. “Sure, it’s who I am, it’s what I do. I mean, it would suck, and there would have to be lifestyle changes, but basically I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have this job.” I find that IDIOTIC. I’d read Shakespeare again. I’d walk in the park, if I didn’t have to have a job. If I ever AM able to retire, I will do so as SOON as possible. I think for those people who like their work, they may stick around in the employment for a while after their financial status and age grow to the point that they CAN retire. They would actually … gasp! … CHOOSE to work. I’ve never felt that way. I think of working as the very thing which prevents a meaningful or worthwhile or fulfilling or enjoyable life.
Evidently, they somehow think of work as the thing which funds the life. When? How? I hope you see where I’m going with this: if they have the experience of working in order to improve their lives, whereas I have the experience of not being able to improve upon my life precisely because I’m working, then it seems to me that working for a living is simply an act one undergoes in order to be able to say that one is working for a living. For them, maybe not. For me, I can’t figure out any other benefits. It’s too expensive, in terms of time, life-energy, happiness, for me to go to work. It’s even too expensive in terms of money. Now, if I WERE making money, and were generating happiness, or at least the opportunity for happiness was somehow based on the positives that I got from work (including the money), then I suppose I might change my calculus. But it’s kind of like asking a fish to please stop breathing water, get up on the dry land, it will be so much better up there; without realizing, that the exact problem that the fish has with the land, is that it’s dry. Work is for me unremunerative. So, if people do it for remuneration, I don’t blame them. But I can’t imagine how remuneration and work would go together. They contradict one another, in my mind and in my experience. I can’t spend more time, energy, effort, life-energy, and money to help someone’s business succeed; he has to spend his money for me to help him; yet I’m still losing money when I go to work. What gives?
So, when I think of the fact that a large number of people are being FORCED financially into unfulfilling work, I also have to remind myself, that the lack of fulfillment does not lend them as detrimental an experience as I undergo. Basically, the general free market of prices and wages, has balanced things out to the point that people who do take a job, and do so for the money, are actually making a decision on the basis of trade-offs. They ask themselves, basically, “is this positive experience, in terms of pay, worth the negative experience, in terms of what I have to do in order to get the pay?” Would life (over all, including shelter, clothing, food) be better or worse, if I didn’t have the job and the pay? But for me, I don’t think I’ve ever felt free to be in the position to make that decision about trade-offs. The money has never been enough to live off of, I have a much more enjoyable experience when I’m not working, I have absolutely no positive things to say about any attendance at an office ever in my entire life, I only ever did it for the pay, and yet … as I started this sentence … the money has never been enough. What gives? Why am I not in the usual decision-making category, of “is the bad worth the good?” My category is, “Why on earth would ANYONE do this? There are no benefits, except the mere fact of being able to say I AM doing it.” One supposed way out of that one-way exchange is, the hope for promotion, and that’s always the theory which is dangled in front of me. Opportunity to have better jobs, chance to really make a difference, improve the resume so you can go do something that you think is important or worthwhile if this thing doesn’t feel that way. But I know pretty well, due to ADHD behaviors, I’m not going to be promoted, and I generally couldn’t afford the cost of volunteering which had to be done in order to get STARTED on the road to promotion. So, instead, I live at home.
But at 53, this is wildly un-independent in a way that I simply don’t enjoy. And I won’t be able to afford it, quite soon. So I have to find some way of getting something positive out of the career, the workplace, the lifestyle of working, or I’ll just go bonkers. In fact, I’m mildly worried about what will happen next, when my parents have passed away and I must again start to figure out how to pay for all the things they leave for me. I will promptly run out of money. And yet, if I start a job now, I will run out of money SOONER. If I have no job, I don’t have to pay for going to the job, doing all the job things, cleaning the clothes and maintaining a car and paying insurance on it and so on. If I do have a job and independence, then, the expenses will immediately add up, and they will be radically more than any job has ever paid me in my life. I LOSE money when I have jobs. So, again … the smart financial move is to make sure I never work. Right?
Oh heck I dunno … rant rant … thank you for listening … sorry to over-burden the boards with my re-re-re-edited posts all full of complaints … do you actually MAKE money, turn a PROFIT, off of workplace working? Wow. I’m impressed.