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“A for Effort, F in Focus”

I tell my boss I’m trying – but I’m still struggling at work. I’m in a frustrated funk, wondering why I can’t deliver.

“It’s interesting. I’ve worked with students who are dyslexic before. And yet I’m not sure what it is. I think you are just wired differently. It’s as if most people go from point A to B, and you go in a wide circle. I mean, you still get there in the end, and in fact you do it wonderfully. You have that sparkle that not everyone else has.”

Here starts the conversation with the director of the academic program where I’ve been planted for the past year plus. She’s been refreshingly honest. She’s shared the tidbits of how others perceive me. She’s told me that I seem to need more direction than others, even though I somehow end up getting to the same destination as my peers.

“I think she’s saying that you’re scattered, unfocused, and doing too much,” says the sister, whose savvy at reading the tea leaves.

The conversation was ignited by a recent standoff between my boss and me. The run-ins started over the summer, amidst the flurry of wedding planning insanity and the challenge of juggling half a dozen gigs to pay the rent.

The boss gives me a task. I work really hard and try to complete it. He passes it back, not satisfied. We do this a few times in a ping-pong style, and are both increasingly frustrated.

I wondered why I wasn’t understanding what he wanted. Was I slow? Was I dumb? Was I failing to focus? Or was it him and perhaps a kink in his communication? I was trying really hard and yet not delivering the goods. “You’re smart,” he said. “I don’t get it.”

I didn’t get it either, but I suspected the ADHD had something to do with it. “I’m trying,” I said.

“I know you’re trying,” he said. “You get an A for effort, but it’s not what I want.”

The stalemate triggered a reflection on my lengthy yet disjointed career. I’m sure I haven’t hit the Guinness World Record for greatest number of jobs, but I’m getting there.

Somehow the word “quit” has entered my consciousness once again. Quit before the other shoe drops. Quit before I get shafted.

Why does it always end up like this? Jobs, friendships, and relationships that started with the excitement and color of July 4th fireworks all take a speedy dive. Why the sharp-turning downward spiral? Of course I internalized this and have been in a funk.

Was life destined to be a series of sprints for the ADHD adult? If so, it’s getting exhausting – especially as I inch towards 40. Stability? Perhaps the closest I’ve come was getting hitched. Adulthood as imagined? Simply that, imagined.