Need Advice on Choosing a Career

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    • #99759

      Hi, I’m new to ADDitude’s forum, and I’m looking for advice and/or your stories about how you chose a career with your ADD in mind. Did you choose to overcome/manage the symptoms to pursue a challenge, or decide to go with the flow and find a career that puts you in the ADD “zone?”

      I’m a community college student getting close to transferring and with my ADD I have a plethora of interests yet only a few have endured my pattern of trying and quitting. My major is anthropology, which does interest me, but it doesn’t put me into my “zone” of productivity like art does. Despite my interest in anthropology and the fact that I can see gaining different career options within the field, it’s a struggle to keep myself motivated- I feel like I’m struggling against the grain to keep myself focused (a typical ADD symptom, I know). I feel like anthropology is the right choice based on practical matters- it seems more reliable/stable, has more job options, and has potential to help people, plus it’s what I’ve been interested in since childhood. Yet, it just doesn’t offer the addictive rush of the “zone” where the stars align and I feel utterly consumed by what I’m doing. It’s great being in the zone because it lets my ADD work for me instead of against me. It becomes so exhausting to struggle against ADD even with treatment.

      Art comes naturally to me, is great for my mental health, and seems to make my ADD a blessing instead of a curse. However, I feel like it’s a risky option, and I’m not sure I’d actually want to go to college for it. I’m not sure what my path would look like if I pursued art, because it seems like such an organic, and therefore unpredictable, pursuit. Unlike anthropology which requires a set educational path and has things pretty well lined up for me already. Right now my plan is to just get my bachelor’s in anthropology because having a BA is a requirement for most jobs and seeing where things go from there.

      Thoughts? How did you go about choosing a career? How did you deal with all the unknowns and options in college?

    • #99771

      Hello and welcome! So impressed that you are putting so much foresight into your career path! Have you considered being a museum or gallery curator or something along those lines? It may not be fast-paced but the right kind of place would give you an engaging subject matter, the positive pressure of deadlines for certain exhibits, a sometimes hands-on environment, and probably enough variability and flexibility to keep you interested. Perhaps a minor in art would give you more marketability for those kinds of jobs, too? It is ultimately up to you whether you take the “fun” route or the “safe” route, but if you are able to think long-term (even 10yrs out) about your lifestyle/career/financial goals, I think that will help inform your decision. The great thing about jobs is if you absolutely can’t make it work, you can usually quit 😉

      For me, I meandered for a while with jobs — but I always loved working in hospitality and eventually tried every facet of it. Unfortunately, you rarely get decent benefits.

      Fast forward to age 34 and I have an office job. I didn’t choose it so much as it seemed to choose me. I work with nightlife industries a lot so the content of my job is engaging, but desk work — and particularly working 5 days in a row, a surprising challenge — is very challenging for me and often leaves me exhausted, as you described. This is because it isn’t in my nature to work this way.

      How do I balance that? I do a lot of art things in my free time, take an evening art class now and then at the community college, and I go for a lot of short walks at work. I have a sit-stand desk and a wobble board to stand on at work, plus puzzles and other tactile things to pacify my boredom. This helps keep me from feeling too stir crazy, while affording me the opportunity of a job with many great benefits.

      It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always feel ideal, but it is a good challenge for me because I have a supportive boss, a good psych who has helped me find the right meds and tools, and outside activities that allow me to hyperfocus and get in the flow. That said, I was not mature enough in my early and mid 20s to know how or be willing to work through my ADD challenges so the few times I tried jobs against my nature, I gave up quickly and quit. I know I won’t do this job forever because it feels so against my nature, but it is enabling me to save up a nest egg for when I’m ready to make another move.

    • #99830
      Penny Williams

      There are a lot of career paths in art these days, depending on your medium. My daughter is an art major in her 2nd year of college. Ten years ago I probably would have freaked out at the idea of spending $40,000+ on an art degree. But raising a child with ADHD and autism (her brother) has taught me that there’s a lot more to a successful, happy adulthood than a healthy and steady income. My daughter is an illustrator, but she’s concentrating in animation because it’s an art-degree with an after-college career path and she’s interested in working in the video game industry. She will likely double concentrate, adding illustration or graphic design, to make sure she has an “employable” art degree. So, she gets to do what she loves, but she’s taking practicality into account too.

      Think about the feeling of slogging through anthropology you have right now as lasting the rest of your life — day in and day out. Is that something you’re willing to take on a lifetime of? Yes, practicality is important to be able to support yourself, but there’s more than that.

      This article may help you too:

      18 Questions That Reveal Your Ideal Career

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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