Guest Blogs

Mom and Dad Were Right

Students with ADHD, your parents were right: procrastinating and finishing in the nick of time doesn’t always cut it at college.

By nature, I’m a loyal and trustworthy person. However, you can’t trust me to be on time any more than you’d trust me to handle sub-atomic particles. Recently, I learned the hard way not to commit to deadlines I can’t keep (and, incidentally, to avoid helping a friend with her work before I have finished my own… ).

As a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I frequently run into something I call “fake ambition” — or maybe it runs into me. In class, I make plans to type up my notes, read ahead, help someone study — in other words, be a complete nerd for a given amount of time.

Then when I get back to my room, actually doing all the work I have assigned myself just… isn’t… appealing. That’s fake ambition. I lose the urge to do work the second I get comfortable. Therefore, I suggest going to the most uncomfortable place you can find when you’re working under a deadline. If you’re sitting on a hard chair in the library at seven in the morning, relaxation isn’t an option and you can stay focused.

Don’t take your eyes off your goals, or, in due time, you will be confronted by scary things called OBSTACLES. When you see OBSTACLES, you panic. When you panic, there is only one thing left to do, that which is manna for procrastinators and by far my favorite solution to impending deadlines – ignore the hard work and pretend it doesn’t exist.

My justification for this irresponsible behavior lacks reason. It’s almost as if, the second I let my mind wander, it runs away from me and won’t come back. I forget what I’m going to do. I make promises to myself and, seconds later, I break them. I can go from overambitious to unambitious in 4.6 seconds.

I know I procrastinate too often, but I’m just so darn good at it! It’s hard for me to begin working on a project, especially if I know that it will only take an hour to do, when there’s still a significant amount of time left before it needs to be turned in. Good sense tells a person to prioritize, to take the extra time you know you have to spend longer than the bare minimum working on an assignment and to do the most important things first. My sense, however, tells me to do the least important stuff first. Why work on my research paper when my room is a mess and needs to be cleaned?

In high school, finishing in the nick of time always felt like a victory, as in “I beat the deadline.” How I long for the days when the last thought I put on paper before I went to sleep passed for my concluding paragraph! Who would have thought that one day I’d actually have to work?

At college, I’ve had to pull some late-nighters. Waking up looking like you’ve been beaten with the ugly stick is nature’s way of saying “Your parents were right.” (But, of course, due to my stubbornness, I don’t let them have the satisfaction of ever knowing it.)

Growing up with ADHD, with parents who had to drag me to get something done on time, was hard — on them, mostly. I’m a difficult person. I hope I’m worth it.

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