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Dream Into Action

I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut lately. The good thing is, I’m getting set to make some pretty big changes in my life. But at the same time, I’m worried that I’ll just jump into a different rut. I wish wish wish I was confident in who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. But I’m not. I’m marbled with insecurities and doubts. And so…

My “not really a plan, but plan-adjacent” move to Milwaukee has now graduated to actual plan status. Which means I’m now actively looking for a new job in a different, distant place. This helps explain my current anxiety, because looking for a job gives me even more anxiety than having a job. And yes, having a job makes me anxious, because I’m pretty much always convinced I’m one bad day away from being fired, or at least getting in trouble for sucking at my job.

If I were to make a Venn diagram of my applying for and keeping jobs, the Things I’m Good At And Enjoy Doing circle and the Jobs I Can Get circle wouldn’t even touch. I’m not saying they can’t objectively overlap, in fact I live in hope that they will and they do, I just don’t have much confidence in ever having a job where I’m doing things I love and am great at, where I don’t get bored to the point of distraction. With ADHD, it’s easy to get bored and easy to get distracted, ignoring things I should be doing in favor of things I want to be doing. And then I start to worry that I’m going to get in trouble, like when I was in school and I would blow off my schoolwork to write and draw comics.

I know, I know, any job, every job, can get boring at times. That’s why it’s called “work” and not “nap time, followed by juice and cookies and a story about a purple elephant named Eric.” But when I’m doing things I really love to do, I either don’t get bored (that’s called “hyperfocus,” and it can make people think those of us with ADHD don’t really have a problem with attention) (we do, just not when we’re doing something that’s consistently pinging our “interest” button) or if I do, I can easily switch to doing something else I love. I haven’t had a paying job yet that allows for that. Or…maybe I have had jobs where I could, maybe my current job is one where I could, but advocating for myself–after a lifetime of feeling a like an underachieving slacker, of being told over and over again that I need to apply myself more, work harder, pay attention–well, advocating for myself does not come easy.

(I should note that I have been told a number of times that I’m doing well at my current job, and I’ve been told to speak up and ask for changes if I think I need them. Which is amazing, because I’ve never had that happen in a job before. And still, the anxiety of getting in trouble persists. I’m streaked with insecurities and doubts. And so…)

It’s scary to ask for what I want. What if what I want isn’t a real job? Or it’s a job I don’t have the professional and/or educational qualifications for? Or it doesn’t pay enough for me to live on? How do I even find jobs like that? Are there listings for Jobs For Disorganized Dreamers? All of these worries make even figuring out what I want, what I really, really want, difficult and a potential trigger for depression. And all of these worries make the idea of declaring what I want, asking for what I want, difficult and anxiety-triggering. Which, you know, good times.

But I’m working on it. I’m brainstorming and free-associating ideas. I’m posing myself the questions, “What if there are no limits to the kind of jobs I could have? What if none of my answers are wrong answers?” I’m doing my best to shut out the voices that say I have to look for and apply for certain types of jobs in a certain way (even if I don’t know many ways to look for jobs because I’ve only ever done it the way people told me to) and I’m doing my best to shut up my inner critic that tells me I can’t do this (which ain’t easy, because that demon bastard has been with me for a long, long time and knows the best ways to get to me). I’m being very selective about who I ask for help on this because, frankly, I’ve had too many experiences of people trying to help me and doing it in all the wrong ways. I’m scared and I’m excited. I may be riddled with insecurities and doubts, but I’m also bursting with energy and potential.

And so…