“Career Instability Brings Out the Worst of My ADHD”
Trying to battle my own ADHD instability, how can I find a way to be useful to my eccentric boss?
For the past 10 days I’ve been traveling through Asia. I am here partly because of fate and partly because I am insane. I am, after all, the sort of person who still believes in fortune-tellers and fortune cookies. I’m also starting to become resigned to the fact that I’m destined for a life of adventure.
A woman I met years ago runs a journalism program in Asia and read an e-mail update of mine. I am 34 years old, once again pink-slipped, and I’d love to work. She responded with a one-line invitation: Why don’t you come over and check us out? So here I am, standing at a coffee bar in Hong Kong. I have a round-trip ticket as my back-up plan. I hope to spend a couple of months here and forget about the drama of the past year. I’ll get some more work experience in Asia and perhaps the pain of the past will slowly slip away.
On the cusp of turning 35, I feel a bit over the hill to be such a nomad. I live out of a suitcase, have no permanent phone number. I’m always leaving my belongings behind, moving around and throwing things away, saying goodbye and always leaving. My form of stability is change. The open road is my home.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) follows me to Asia and manifests immediately in my new job. My new boss is a firecracker of a woman who is a bit under 5 feet tall. She’s twice my age and speaks and moves twice as fast, making my head spin. She has a lot of experience under her belt, but so far, she’s driven me up the wall with her whirlwind of ideas and projects, all of which have much promise and possibility but lack solid execution plans. Here as her guest, I don’t even have a proper work visa as I follow her around, trying to find my place.
This is the sort of crazy opportunity that only I would take. I’ve been living out of my red Samsonite luggage and have already acquired three used cell phones with three different phone numbers. The humidity and crowds are starting to get to me.
After traveling through three different Chinese cities, I burned out and called my father and stepmother in tears. “Why do I always end up working for offbeat people who are ADHD too?” I complained. “All of these people are creative and successful, but what they lack is the ability to manage themselves and their time.”
My father points out that 80 percent of the population is stable, grounded, and what I’d refer to as a worker bee. “Those people are boring,” I whine, but as he compares their reliability to my flighty sense of adventure, I can see that I’m lucky to be here at all. A boss like mine doesn’t need more eccentric, undisciplined people around her. But in me, that’s exactly what she’s gotten.
“I’m not yet sure how I can be of use here,” I say before I end the international call.
“Don’t focus on the small stuff,” says my father encouragingly. “If you focus on the pennies, that’s all you’ll have at the end of the day.”