October 19, 2018 at 3:18 am #101980
Hi, I am a 20 year old female in college who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. One of the things I hear a lot in my research on ADHD is that those of us with the condition are often abundantly creative, tend to be risk takers, are energetic, etc. Granted, this could be my low self esteem talking, but I feel that none of these are categories that I fit into. I find that many people encourage you to embrace the good traits that come with your ADHD, like creativity and Spontaneity. I want to do that, but so far I don’t identify with any of the positive traits that I’ve seen listed. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Does having ADHD automatically mean I am creative or outgoing? Or if it is just my low self esteem taking over, what are some ways that I can help myself see the positive traits that come with my ADHD?
October 19, 2018 at 11:56 pm #102090
Hey, I’m Kendall. Didn’t think I’d come across someone with as similar of a situation as myself. I also am in college, only I’m a 19 year old male with ADHD. LOL. Nice to meet you.
First off, yes those of us with ADHD are HIGHLY spontaneous & creative in our own ways as individuals. Like for example, I REALLY LOVE TO DRAW! I find that I enjoy expressing myself through drawings, as it helps me cope with my ADHD. Any form of art such, as music/painting/drawing etc. is a way of not only expression for us, but also an outlet for the ENDLESS energy that we have.
In terms of the spontaneity, I don’t plan where I’m going sometimes. I can find myself at McDonald’s after class one day, while I had NO intention of going there originally. LOL. It’s fun for me though because it’s TOTALLY random & I enjoy having that freedom (outside of school of course).
You have to find what you’re interested in/what you enjoy doing. Normally, the things you enjoy come natural to you (meaning you don’t have to think about them) you just do them & let your mind go free. cREATIVITY comes from your imagination (as cliche & child-like as this sounds LOL).
A way for you to find the creativity that you’re looking for: Let go. Focus on being in the moment, let your mind go free & do whatever you feel like doing. Whether it’s listening to music, meeting someone new, drawing, eating. WHATEVER IT IS. It can be anything! That’s the beauty of it! WOW, READING THIS BACK, IT SOUNDS LIKE AN ARTICLE!
ADHD DEFINITELY has its positives. I just think you’re trying too hard to find them.
Don’t worry, you’ll find them though.
I hope this helps,
-Kendall Boults Jr.
October 22, 2018 at 9:00 am #102108
There are wonderful traits that come with AHDD, mostly because of the way our brains are wired. But even ADHD brains are all wired differently, so while we exhibit similar symptoms and have similar traits, the expression of those traits varies significantly with each individual. Not everyone with ADHD is outgoing and bubbly. Not everyone is hyperactive. Many people are much more introverted and dreamy. Some (like me) are a bit of both.
But however your brain exhibits symptoms, know that it does, in fact, gives you an equal number of strengths, too. There’s a balance. Knowing those strengths and using them to your advantage can really help you be successful.
Patience doesn’t really come easily to us ADDers, but know that the more you learn, the more you’ll grow to understand how your brain works, and the more confident you’ll feel in your ability to work with your amazing brain. Our brains will never fit into the box of being neurotypical. Thank goodness. 🙂
Intelligence: ADDers tend to be highly intelligent people. Once we find our place, we have much to offer the world.
Ingenuity: We are creative thinkers. Our brains are good at making connections that others would never have seen. We are inventive and excellent problem solvers.
Observant: Our senses are heightened, and we notice things others won’t. We also can notice mood shifts and details that can be useful.
Memory: We remember random things, key details, with extreme accuracy. (If only we could remember where we put our keys…) 😉
Thoughtful: We can be very insightful. We process the world around us and create deep meaning.
Imaginative: We have an entire inner world that goes on in our heads. It allows us to play out scenarios, draw connections, be creative, set goals, and dream up possibilities. We offer a different perspective to the world.
Compassion: ADDers have big hearts. We feel for others and try to make things better.
Acceptance: We understand what it feels like to be different, so we are generally much more accepting of others who don’t fit in.
Generosity: We need a lot of help, so we are very quick to give help.
Enthusiasm: We tend to be optimists and get excited easily. We enjoy starting new things, and our enthusiasm can be contagious.
Humor: We tend to be funny and love to laugh. We are often quick-witted. We also generally don’t mind being a fool to get a laugh.
Pressure: We excel in high-stress situations. It’s why we procrastinate. We like the rush. Whenever there’s a quick deadline or an emergency, we can be counted on to get things done.
Determination: We are selectively motivated. Our brains will latch onto something and not let go, like an obsession. (binge-watching tv, reading, video games, hobbies, etc.) The key is to learn how to channel that motivation towards something productive.
Courage: It takes courage to show up and try, knowing there’s a good chance we might mess things up. “Sometimes courage is a small voice saying I will try again tomorrow.”
Perseverance: No matter how many times we’ve fallen down, we keep trying. We want to succeed. We never stop trying, even if it just means showing up again.
Also, I know that you are at the beginning of your journey. When you’re shackled by years of incorrect labels, it’s hard to really see the good in yourself. It’s hard to believe it. Now that you have the correct label, it can change the lens through which you view your life. The struggles are not your fault, but they are now your responsibility. The process of learning how to work with your brain (instead of against it) can be life changing. You do get more confidence as you learn to love and accept yourself as you are. I wish the best of luck to you as you find your way. <3
October 22, 2018 at 10:28 am #102148
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
November 12, 2018 at 6:21 am #103584
It could just be that your positive qualities are there, but buried underneath years and years of judgment from people who do not understand ADD. I’m actually dealing with the same problem. I got so used to being labeled negatively at school, work, and the people around me. It made me doubt my own worth. I know it’s hard to stay positive and self-confident in a world where we are expected to think, function, and succeed in the same way, or else we get underestimated.
You need to do some soul-searching and ask yourself what skills you have that make you confident. Also ask yourself what people seem to like about you. Are you a good listener? Are you super-outgoing? Can you draw/write/paint? What makes you feel confident about yourself? Whatever your strengths are, they are valuable and it may take you some time to figure out what you can offer the world.
I believe that the ignorance of society has shattered your self-esteem just like mine was. The problem is not you; it’s the lack of awareness about what we struggle with and how we process what we learn. People don’t understand why we don’t fit into the same cookie cutter, so it leaves us feeling discouraged and hopeless.
November 12, 2018 at 10:33 am #103606
There is no trait you are certain to have. All of everything you do and feel is positive given the right context. You were born with an ability to see the world differently than everybody else. Embrace it! Use it to your advantage.
Sure I get that sometimes it seems like, you are the only natural English speaker in a world of ESL speakers, you can understand almost everything they say but sometimes you have to ask them to repeat or rephrase themselves! To most of them, the world is black & white while you live in vibrant colors. They will never see the color until you paint it for them. Once you do, they will wonder how they lived without it for so long!
November 12, 2018 at 10:46 am #103610
If I had been diagnosed at that age, I probably could have written the same post. When I was 20 years old and in college, I was anxious and unfocused. I ended up dropping out for a while, and that was a major blow to my self-esteem. Of course, I had no idea about ADD. I was so anxious that I never took any risks. I would not describe myself as spontaneous in the LEAST.
I’m in my early 40s now, and I’ve never felt better. I got medicated for my anxiety (SSRI) and ADHD, and this combo has been life-changing. I’ve never had more self-confidence, control over my emotions, socially-secure, and adventurous.
My point is that I am sure that your talents are in there. You just having some growth coming. I think about how my life would have been different if I had been diagnosed at that age, and I am sad over the wasted years of wondering what was wrong with me. But you won’t feel like that forever!
November 12, 2018 at 10:54 am #103611
Hi, I’m a 22 year old Asian female with ADHD. I wanted to mention the asian part because most of the people in the asian community doesn’t believe in mental illnesses like ADHD, Depression, or Social Anxiety. In which I have all 3 (and I’m pretty sure the feed off of each other).
So I’m constantly reminded of my short comings and rarely do I ever get praises when I am creative or spontaneous or even humorous.
I just recently found out that I had a passion for photography that I displayed since young. You will find what makes you calm and immediately good at when your ADHD fuels it.
I found myself always distracted during conversations because things would catch my attention and I would whip out my camera and take the picture.
And risk taking, I’ll tell you about how I stopped on the freeway (on the side, with hazard lights on ofcourse.) And took a picture of what looks like the mist engulfing the cars on the freeway.
The spontaneous no filter mouth that I have also, it both made me lose friends and gain many.
Lost the friends I accidentally offend and gain many friends who thought I was hilarious even when I don’t mean to be.
But I KEPT many friends with my ADHD as well. Because I’m extremely honest about my conditions and tries my best to be aware of my surroundings and the feelings of the people around me. My real friends would be patient with me and understand me. They hold my hand and help me improve.
Just because someone has ADHD doesnt mean that they only have positive or negative. It manifests differently and influenced by the people in your life (family background) and people you choose to keep in your life (friends) and yourself.
I have doubts literally every second of my life, even when I’m taking pictures. Something that I love will calm me but the insecurities of it not being good in others opinions still scares me.
You’ve listed “good traits”.
Being creative doesn’t necessarily means good because of some tasks we have to do as human. We live in a society that needs structure and instructions. I get yelled at for not following the instructions all the time due to my “creative” mind.
And I already told you about the risk taking, there’s a reason why they’re called risks. Honesty is a great quality too. But know how to use it because not everyone wants to hear the ugly truth.
My advice is to try to look at your shortcomings from both sides. You didnt really list any except being insecure.
Being too insecure is an issue but insecurities do keep you aware. More aware of your surroundings to protect yourself or protect others.
Overthinking drives from being insecure. Too much will hurt, but overthinking gives you the ability to plan out different scenarios to a problem to guess/estimate how it’ll turn out if you try A or B.
Everything has a downside. Oh look, my pessimistic mentality is coming to play. But the secret is to try and keep it balanced.
Too little water will give you kidney stones but too much water, you can literally die from water poisoning. (Google it! It’s real, a person who won a radio contest died from drink too much at once.)
What I do is:
1. Sit down in your room with no music or anything.
2. List down at least 3 of what you think are your bad qualities.
3. And think and try to remember of a time when you used each one in different situations that ended up helping you. (By the way, a thing about ADHD individuals is that we always do things for no reason and figure out why later. So don’t fret. And just be patient. Which is another problem we have, impatience.)
4. Think of at least 3 good traits you believe you don’t carry while ADHD individuals do. And think of how in 1 way it does apply to you. (I’m creative but at the same time not really. Everyone I know can draw whatever they imagined in their head. But I can’t. Too much will run through my mind. I can only draw what’s given to me. Or something I can physically see. I then realized because I loved architectural and landscape photography. Something that is given right infront of me in physical form right there for me to capture at whatever angle I think is beautiful. That my friend was my creativity.
I can’t write. I’m not good with flowery words. Which is not creative, but I can make up stories and fictional fantasy stories to entertain my baby sister as quickly as a snap of a finger.
What’s art? It’s a variety of things. Whats beauty? It’s in the eye of the beholder. What’s being creative? Its subjective.
What matters is that YOU need to view SOME of your flaws as positive things. (But if one of your flaws are forgetting to refill the toilet paper roll. Then you should fix it…there’s nothing positive about that.)
And keep your mind open to the possibilities that one day you’ll find what your mind is creative about. Because if your don’t and keep your head dow feeling sorry for yourself. You just might miss it when opportunity comes your way.
Sorry I wrote too much. If you need any type of encouragement or need someone to vent. I’m happy to help anyone who’s struggling or just need a friend who has the same problems.
Trust me, I know how hard it is on college…
November 12, 2018 at 10:55 am #103612
Hi, my son asked the same question because he feels like an outcast all the time. He thought that finding some of those great traits would help him fit in. It took a long time and it was completely accidental, but he found his thing – drums!
We thought getting him to run track would help keep him focused, but he absolutely hated running. Hated it. When I dropped my daughter off at her keyboard lessons one night, he mentioned that he might like to try the drums. He found himself drumming all the time anyway; on his desk, his legs, anything nearby. We gave it a try and it was the most natural thing for him. We bought him an electronic drum set that requires headphones to hear them, so we are not blasted out of the house every time he is on them. He hooks his phone up to them and plays along with his favorite songs. He has played in local clubs with his band and got his senior pictures taken with his drumsticks. He is on them at least once a day, sometimes twice.
While he loves to draw and is constantly purchasing legos, not for the structures that they’re supposed to create, but for the parts he sees on the box, that he needs for his own creations, drums have become his outward escape. The drawing and building are his internal peace.
You don’t have to be an artist or a musician to benefit from the ADHD traits. You just have to be open to ideas that interest an intrigue you. My personal trainer also has ADHD and she became an EMT. She’s now a registered nurse and is leaving on Friday for the Air National Guard. One of the most positive traits of someone with ADHD is the ability to work well in chaotic situations. Maybe that’s you. Don’t get down on yourself if you need more time to find your thing. Just keep an open mind and it will find you.
November 12, 2018 at 10:56 am #103613
PS. Due to family issues, I had to keep my ADHD underwraps so I don’t take any medication at all. I don’t personally recommend against or for medication.
Whatever works for you.
So I know how much the struggle is in general.
November 12, 2018 at 11:18 am #103621
Hi, I think we need to differentiate between the hyperactive ADHDers and the inattentive ones. As you may already know, more girls and women fall into the inattentive group, and more boys and men into the hyperactive group. I am inattentive and I find that as a group, inattentive ADHDers do not exhibit the level of energy that the hyperactive group have. Also, when I was tested at age 56 for ADHD, I asked the psychologist doing my testing if it were true that people with ADHD tended overwhelmingly to have high IQs and he said no, it was spread out over the range of IQS. I Suspect that the reason that this myth has grown up is that ADHD is so (in my opinion) underdiagnosed especially in women, and the people being diagnosed as adults tend to be more intelligent as they are more likely to be able to search out a cause for their difficulties and get diagnosed. This means that there are an awful lot of adults out there unable to discover why their lives have been so difficult.
I think you have gotten some tremendous responses here and I hope they are helpful to you. I am not one of the people who see ADHD as a blessing of gifts. I have struggled very hard all my life because of UNDIAGNOSED ADHD, and was denied a chance to reach my true potential. But I do think ADHD brings some positicves thart we can build on. Our ability to empathize, to hyperfocus on topics that interest us (this one is a mixed blessing), our abundant curiosity. I agree with the person who said you may be experiencing the effect of all the negative messages we get because we do not conform to society’s expectations. I would suggest you learn all you can about ADHD — this is a lifelong assignment; try to meet other people with ADHD to share experiences, and possibly spend some time in therapy with a therapist knowledgeable about ADHD for help in overcoming the difficulties you have faced while undiagnosed. Remember also that ADHD can be comorbid with a number of other conditions, including, depression and anxiety. In my case, I was treated for depression and anxiery without a true resolution for many years. It was only when the ADHD was diagnosed and treatment for that was incorporated into my therapy, both psych and physical, that I began to finally be the person I was meant to be.
Good luck to you in your future. A much better life awaits you.
November 14, 2018 at 3:45 am #103755
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