Nobody really knows what they are truly good at as a teenager. Most adults don’t even know what they’re even doing. If they tell you adults have it figured out, they are either lying to you or somehow managed to be very successful.
As a kid I wanted to study cosmology, I wanted to be an animator, I wanted to be a writer, an actress. When I was in high school, I knew I liked art. It was something I was good at. But I had no idea what area of art I wanted to pursue. Fine artist? Commercial artist? Stage and costume design for theater? Continue with animation? Illustration and concept art? But you know I really do love science but I suck at math. Maybe I can still somehow pursue that and do art on the side maybe as a hobby?
Then college came. I had no clue though I was more focused on art. I did take acting classes. I was also really into webdesign (2000, when it was starting to become a budding career option). I took creative writing courses, I took interesting science courses. Combine undiagnosed ADHD and depression into the mix and well, after two years of taking foundation classes, I dropped out.
I began the esteemed career of customer service. :D:D:D Job hopping as a cashier.
I went back probably 4 years later to study game design, no illustration, uhh animation? No let’s stick to safe old graphic design. It was something I was already doing to some degree and figured out I had some skill in but not really earning money on it yet. And I started failing in math. The economy tanked in 2008 and I was completely unsure if I should even continue this route and be more in debt, so I quit. As of now I have no degree, but I’m only 1k away from paying off that pesky loan. :s
I made a really cool website (sort of similar to Gaia Online but it was tiny) and was generating pretty good income for its’ small size. So I realized that maybe I could do something with that. I was back to working customer service jobs. I moved, found a new store to work at and was promoted into part time management, then quickly after that, full time. I stayed FT assistant manager for several years wondering if I should continue up the ladder or not. I was also doing stuff on the side, I picked up new hobbies: making jewelry and selling them at anime conventions which was doing pretty well.
I went into store management a few years ago and realized a lot of things about myself:
– I’m a really good judge of character. A lot of workplaces have drama and issues between employees but nearly everyone I hired tended to mesh and work as a team.
– I figured out how to not just be a boss, but be an effective leader.
– I’m really good at delegating (you have to be if you can’t even complete your own tasks) and approaching tasks with strategy (to make up for your own shortcomings) figuring out what people are really good at. I approached scheduling like a strategy game. :p
– A lot of people I hired ended up getting promoted into management positions and I helped train them. I became like a mentor to a lot of people.
I would’ve never known this if I’d just went along with whatever art field I wanted to get into. But I left that job this year because I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t dedicate time to my art and I didn’t want to be 50 years old being a disgruntled retail manager who draws on the side. I didn’t want my bosses’ position in the company. I didn’t want to work harder to go into a busier store. I was offered a position doing graphic and webdesign with occasional illustration. I work from home now and I’m theoretically able to dedicate time to my own projects to get them off the ground if I could focus. I’m able to take what I learned from management and apply it to what I want to do. Right now, I’m working on creating a game. So this involves learning programming and doing a lot of art. Hiring help once I’m able to build up enough finances for that. There’s marketing involved and that marketing involves design. Stuff I never thought I’d be touching by just being an illustrator, designer, whatever else in the world I wanted to do. I’m hoping that I can build a startup game company.
The terrible and nice thing about adhd is that you bounce around a lot. You learn a lot about yourself and the world in the process. The key is trying to figure out that sweet spot and honing in on it once you find it. And you’re probably not going to find it through a classroom, especially if your classes devote a lot of time to standardized testing. You’re probably going to find it from wandering, sometimes helplessly, bouncing around in a ping pong machine until you figure out the controls. I want to say it’ll be okay, that creative people with lots of great ideas can make it work. But it takes a lot to get there. And sometimes you don’t have the luxury of time. Sometimes you need to make an income. Suddenly 20 years fly by and you you yourself in a field that you hate just to pay your bills. Luck just happened to be on my side, and I was able to get out.