Friday, April 8, 2011

Self-Sabotage 101

I repeatedly pick jobs that are below my intellectual capabilities, because busywork satisfies my need for movement and I'm afraid of getting in trouble for not "looking busy".

That can of worms I just opened this week really makes me sad. But it's true.

Jobs that ARE appropriate to my intellectual abilities make me uncomfortable. I would rather stuff envelopes for 5 hours than have to do a thinky-thinky job where I feel like I'm not doing anything because I'm not moving.

But then those jobs get boring. Meh, go figure.

This becomes very interesting when you think about what kids with ADHD do in school all day for 12 years: they get in trouble for being disruptive, for daydreaming too much or for being lazy.

My teachers trained me to be afraid of looking "not busy".

I'm not blaming them. I'm just having a moment of realization.

Also a moment of mild panic because I don't know if I'm ever going to find a job that I love that also lets me "be" in a way that feels right, that doesn't involve washing dishes, being a janitor, or preparing food...or making $9/hr.

I feel I've been coming to this crisis point/realization for a long time. I've been knowing I need to deal with it, indirectly, for years.

But now I really need to deal with it.


Fucking self-discovery, it's painful. I think I'll go stuff some envelopes while I think about what to do with myself, lol.


  1. I agree with this so much, you have no idea. For a long time I felt pushed toward a degree in academia; everyone said I was so smart, and smart people don't want to just do data entry or clean houses for the rest of their lives, do they? But whenever I've had a "smart" job, the rest of my life suffers, because I can't daydream for eight hours which leaves me totally overwhelmed at home. Even though a physical job keeps my hands busy, my mind is free (and I also think better when I'm doing something physical). Not getting yelled at for being idle is a nice side benefit, too. But then, like you said, they get boring, and I get frustrated by the low pay and the feeling that I should be doing something more with my life.

    A mix would be best... at the one job I've had that I've LIKED, it was largely cerebral (medical research) but they still needed someone to run to the file room and the slide room and to courier stuff around. I was always the one to volunteer and while I'm sure some people thought it was brown-nosing my bosses understood that I somehow worked better if I was allowed to leave the office several times a day and do all the physical chores. So I became the semi-official go-for. And I think the combination of physical and mental activity was almost perfect, because I was happy there. It's the only job I was never fired from or didn't quit out of frustration (project ended). I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD then, either, later on it became clear why I liked this job.

    (P.S. Hi! Long time reader, first time--I think--commenter.)

  2. You have a high IQ so you would probably score well on Civil Service Exams---Federal, State & Local.Don't know if ADD would be a disability in hiring the disabled and get you more points. Great benefits, Pensions and 35 hr work weeks and all kinds of holidays and personal day and almost great medical. They don't work hard. It takes 3 of them to do the work real workers in private industry.

  3. The ability to be over-worked, under-employed and under-paid should be an entry on my resume. But it's not 'cause I don't have the focus to up-date my resume or the wherewithal to really even look for a job more appropriate to my expansively rich skill set. This life is a work in progress though, and I'm expecting forward movement as I look for answers. Your blog has been a worthwhile place to visit along the way.

  4. I love your outlook Scott. Though I don't always achieve it, I am always TRYING to see things that see my life experiments as just small, rich experiences along a much longer path. Good for you, keep it up :)

  5. Erica: I TOTALLY RELATE. Seriously...I have been happier as a janitor than sitting at a desk, lol. "everyone said I was so smart, and smart people don't want to just do data entry or clean houses for the rest of their lives, do they?" OMG, this quote kills me. Exactly. EXACTLY. I mean, not that we shouldn't try to "achieve" but...what sort of achievement and at what cost?! I'd be a great CEO but I just can't stand the paper pushing shit between there and here, lol.

    Anonymous: you a funny person, I like.

  6. I totally relate. Have you thought about teaching as a career? (That's the best work I thought that could stimulate me intellectually and physically. I suppose it depends on the subject or age group. I bet kindergarten would be a hoot).

    And no I'm not a kindergarten teacher but I am thinking about it more and more! I'm in my late 30s and have been diagnosed with ADHD 3 yrs ago. Basically social pressure pushed me towards grad school. Then because I thought repetitive work would totally bore me to death, I made sure I was doing work that would be interesting. Eventually I set up what is now a successful business as an applied social researcher (I really struggled with 9-5 jobs). This is all good but not the ideal. In this work I am struggling and I am often very stressed because of my ADHD, and I tend to self-sabotage often. I am basically realising that this is probably not the best fit for me. Who needs the stress!

    I think having ADHD is challenging because most of us know we're smart and creative, etc, but most jobs today, that are rewarded financially and socially, are desk-based or managerial jobs (talk about work that impacts an ADHDer negatively!). Physical-type work on the other hand is not (anymore). I think ADHDers were adventurers in centuries past! I am sure I would have been an explorer only a 100 years ago! :-)

  7. "but most jobs today, that are rewarded financially and socially, are desk-based or managerial jobs" Yup. Just yesterday I was thinking about this topic again with a big SIGH.

    I have in fact thought about teaching...and have in fact worked as a tutor...and have in fact gotten to the brink of going to school to become a teacher...and then realized that I would have to work with school administrators. Perhaps it's just my experience but I've met a lot of authoritarian douchebag control freaks who are school administrators. Think inside the box kinds of people. Working for those people would be a disaster for me. Like my handful of favorite teachers in school, I would be fired for some kind of perceived radical comment or behavior. And would be the first person to stand up in a faculty meeting to challenge authority. However eloquent the delivery, authoritarian control freak douchebags don't like that. I decided not to go to school to put myself in an environment where I am doomed to fail :)

    My husband, however, is a teacher and he seems to like it. He's been a teacher for about 10 years. He struggles with the parts that you would expect a person with ADHD to be challenged by (anything having to do with paperwork and putting little numbers in little boxes) but he gets the job done and is a creative and brilliant teacher. He just completed a school concert where he had the whole 8th grade dressed as zombies doing the Thriller dance, and the second grade doing "When I'm 64" on kazoos.

    And now, back to my regularly scheduled monthly financial reports...let's just say that this is not the creative part of my job.