To bring out the best of your ADHD gifts, find something to get passionate about.
by Stacey Turis
I think passion is underutilized these days. We don’t nurture it that much anymore. We’re more of a skills-based society. “Oh, you’re good at numbers, so you should be an accountant.” Or “You like kids, you should be a teacher.” For the record, nobody has ever said either of the above to me, and probably never will.
Why aren’t we asked what we feel passionate about? I think it’s because passion is lower on the totem pole than money, convenience, stability, people-pleasing, and playing it safe. Some might call being passionate selfish or impulsive. It’s tough to convince the more logical people that passion, especially for the ADHD tribe, is as necessary as a good Internet connection. That is what passion gives us: a connection to something that makes us feel alive, driven, and lost and found at the same time.
Because we are impulsive, ADHDers have to be careful not to apply the “all or nothing” philosophy we love so much. I’m not telling you to quit your job, sell your stuff, and move to Yosemite to be a forest ranger because you’re passionate about nature. I’m saying explore what you love. Exploration is free!
During the exploratory stage, you can release all of those expectations you’ve been saddling yourself with. You don’t have to make money at it, you don’t have to commit to it, and you can go off in another direction at any time. If you love it as much as you thought you did — but it won’t pay the bills — find a way to incorporate it into your life anyway. Passion doesn’t always have to be applied to careers; it can be applied to hobbies, crafts, rescuing animals, or even music. Especially music.
For a week I’ve been trying to break it to my husband that, despite all of the pokers I already have melting in the fire, I offered to help my favorite rock band with their marketing and social media for free. The band, not being idiots, graciously accepted. I wasn’t worried about it being a bad decision. I knew it was the right decision, because my brain was on fire. Ideas came faster than I could process them, and I knew I could make a difference in their success. You can’t put a dollar figure on that fueled-by-fire feeling, but those who don’t live as passionately will always insist on considering those dreadful “good decision” characteristics before passion. Let’s be honest: How do you tell your husband you’re running off with the band?
Last night I broke it to him. The conversation started with “Well, I know you’re probably going to get mad at me, but I’m joining a band.” In my house, it’s best to initially make the thing sound worse than it is, so the actual thing doesn’t seem so bad. When he gave me the look I was waiting for, I explained that “joining a band” meant helping with marketing, not twerking on a stage in a smoky club every weekend. Freed from those unpleasant mental images, my husband relaxed and allowed me to passionately explain my ideas for helping this band become the rock stars they’re destined to be. By the time I was done, he was coming up with his own ideas for the band.
Don’t be afraid to be passionate, and certainly don’t be afraid to show it! Passion is contagious. When other people see you fearlessly exploring things you’re passionate about, it inspires them to pursue their passions, which inspires those around them to do the same. Be the change. And don’t twerk — at least in public.