Finding meaning in the imperfections of ADHD

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It was a year ago this week that my therapist first suggested that I could have ADHD. So in that way, I consider this my first year of having ADHD but I also recognize that it’s been along for this ride I call life since the beginning.

Endings and beginnings are natural places to stop and reflect and I really wanted to take a moment to do that today. There’s nothing really all that special about today though it is the last day of 2020 and frankly, 2020 can kiss my ass, so you can rest assured that I will be ringing in 2021 with appropriate enthusiasm. But as far as my life goes, today is just another Thursday.

As 2019 was drawing to a close, my life felt like one of those scenes in the movies where the pilot looks left and sees the engine on the left wing sputter and die and then looks to the right wing just in time to see the same thing happen again. It was that feeling of inevitable doom that ultimately led me to seek therapy and set me on the path to discovering I have ADHD. So 2019 wasn’t exactly a stellar year for me.

Of course 2020 has been a shitstorm. I can’t even begin to list all of the crap we’ve dealt with this year, from the Covid-19 pandemic to murder hornets. My only wish is that an election cycle never again hit during a pandemic because I felt like a captive audience for the never-ending press coverage and that wasn’t nearly as entertaining as watching The Tiger King.

But 2020 has also been a year of self-discovery and growth for me. I saw my therapist regularly until the shutdown began. I was able to get an official diagnosis of ADHD Inattentive from a psychiatrist and that opened the pathway to medication. That journey has been fraught with frustration as well, but it’s a story for another day.

The most important thing I did in 2020 was to connect with the ADHD community. More than therapy, doctors, and any medication you can find, connecting with other ADHDers has made the biggest impact on how I manage my symptoms and learn new ways to get through the challenges that ADHD brings. The support that I received from our community from Day 1 was amazing, and I could think of no better way to repay that than by paying it forward.

As much as 2020 sucked, it is also the year that I: started ADHD surprise (the blog and later the YouTube channel), and I have worked with some amazing people to create the ADHD Support Group on Discord, We Are ADHD, and I recently joined the Camp ADHD team.

I will not make any claims on perfection. Finding out I have ADHD has made me scrutinize my life and my actions more intensely than ever before. It’s also forced me to see the beauty in imperfection. I read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly this year and she shared something I have really tried to take to heart: “Perfection is the enemy of done. Good enough is really effin’ good.”

It’s important to know and understand your imperfections. Goodness knows I have a lot of them. But knowing what they are isn’t enough, and the point isn’t to dwell on them…this just sends an open invitation to RSD, anxiety, and depression to come to the table and discuss your imperfections with you at length.

Imperfection is part of being human and makes sure life is interesting. When you roll up a new D&D character, it can be tempting to try to make someone who is simply great at everything–I mean, isn’t that what we all really want?? But if every roll went your way, and everything you tried was simply a success, your D&D play would be very boring and your life would teach you nothing.

I used to coach scholastic chess and I was fond of telling my players that with each game, you either win or you learn. Of course they wanted to win every game they played and there is nothing wrong with that desire. The reality though is that not every game will be won. And when you lose, it’s your opponent showing you a weakness or imperfection that they found. By beating you, they have literally shown you where you need to improve.

So while it is very easy to focus on our imperfections in non-productive ways, I challenge you to shift your perspective just a bit. I do want you to learn where your rough edges are. Learn where you need help and support and then go get it when you need it. Find good partners, friends, and colleagues who will benefit from your strengths and who can help support you where you are weak.

When you’re stuck fixating on your flaws, take a moment to recognize the opportunity that they present for beauty, growth, and connection with others. Managing ADHD is a constant struggle, but there’s no rule that we have to face it alone. There are plenty of DREAD pirates out there happy to help you navigate the choppy seas of life.


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