I have at times attacked & criticized education. Why? because we weren’t good together. It’s tempting to say that the education system failed me. In reaction to the idea that I was a failure- which was something my parents, teachers, peers, all…
I’ve come to realize that… you can’t always blame one party or the other when something doesn’t work out. Two agents can try their respective bests and still fail. Assigning blame. I spent a lot of time oscillating between blaming myself and the system. I didn’t really understand either. Today I realize that the system isn’t malicious, it’s just struggling to do what it can with what it has. I’ve come to realize that I’m atypical. I used to want this to mean that I was somehow special, important, above everything. This was the narrative I was fed, and it was pleasant while it lasted.
As a working adult with bills and a mortgage and responsibilities I’ve discovered that my problems are deep-rooted. I probably have clinical ADHD. I never did my homework, even for the teachers I liked. I never practiced guitar even when I had gigs coming up. I was phenomenally flaky. I’d wake up every morning nervous and sick because I hadn’t done my homework. This was a problem for me in primary school, secondary school, JC, and I can guarantee that it would’ve been a problem if I had gone to university. It’s a problem at work, and I absolutely LOVE my work!
I just get distracted in a way that’s bizarre to most people, the way chronic alcoholics must be bizarre to people who are able to enjoy a glass of wine every now and then. It’s a problem in my social life when I miss appointments. I have ruined friendships with my ego, arrogance, small-mindedness, even my marriage can get strained when I’m not careful. I go home late from work- and it’s not like I’m staggeringly productive, I spend a lot of time staring into space or otherwise procrastinating. it’s in the brain.
I’m an unromantic person. I don’t plan dates. I’m also really, really bad at sticking to the task at hand. If I’m on the way to do something, and my wife asks me to do something else, one of the two tasks will be left undone. A drawer open here, a plastic bag half-filled there, a pen uncapped…
I’m hesitant to call this a mental illness or disorder. I think a better way to think of it is… there’s a part of my brain that’s horribly underdeveloped. And that’s an idea that can seem silly or absurd, so I play around with it and then put it out of mind. I’ve been able to get through life so far without worrying too much about it… though it’s also the primary cause of stress, anxiety and pain in my life. Not just me, but the people in my life that I care about, too. My dad calls asking me why I never call. I don’t think they appreciate ADHD as an excuse.
No single self-help book or listicle can fix this. I read a story about a guy who violently took control of his parents’ lives… maybe I need something like that. This is the single biggest impediment to peace and happiness and joy in my life. It has to do with the way my brain currently works, and I need to change it.
What I’ve learnt about change… it requires precision. It requires that you start small and deep. Trying to effect big change with limited resources/power leads to certain failure and is a quick way to get demoralized + give up. I think I’ve made about 20-30 “Okay, this is it, I’m going to turn my life around now” assertions in the past. While it can be interesting and deceptively exciting… what I really need are small victories.