My Brain Wants a Lazy Summer, But I Refuse to Be Misled

A summer job sounds like a drag, but it’s also an absolute necessity.

Man with ADHD applying to job on computer surrounded by papers and holding coffee
Man with ADHD applying to job on computer surrounded by papers and holding coffee

My dad says people with ADHD are like trains: We function best on a track. Take away the “rails” that guide our lives, and we start crashing into things and rushing off cliffs. That said, you probably assume that I’m working feverishly to find some activity to keep my life on track till September.

Are you kidding? My brain says it’s time to kick back and do what I do best: absolutely nothing.

Finding a summer job means writing cover letters, filling out applications, and showing up for interviews, neatly dressed and smiling. Whoa. Even if I get past the application stage — no mean feat for me — I’ll have to beg my mom to set up the interview. And I’ll approach the interview with as much enthusiasm as I would for climbing Mount Everest handcuffed and blindfolded. Because no matter how much I want a particular job, there’s a good chance I will blow it in the interview.

You see, in addition to ADHD, I have foot-in-mouth disease: Things that other people might think, I actually say out loud. I hear myself blurting out something in an interview, then watching that weird look come over my interviewer’s face.

“It was so… entertaining… to meet you, Ms. Brady. We will be in touch.”

Yeah, right.

Let’s say I complete an application. Let’s say I show up for the interview and manage not to blurt out something stupid. My poor brain — terrified that it will be denied the lazy, do-nothing summer to which it feels entitled — makes a last stab at sabotage. It tries to convince me that a poor, misunderstood, ADHD-afflicted person like Christine isn’t ready for the demanding, dog-eat-dog world of work.

Don’t employers want people who arrive early for work? I prefer to leave early (strike one). Don’t they want to pay less money for greater productivity? I’d like more money for less work (strike two). And don’t they like employees who resist the temptation to goof off? Well, I can resist everything… except temptation. Guess I’m a hopeless case.

Nice try, brain! But I refuse to be misled. No matter what excuse you come up with, we both know that, without a job of some sort, I would have, well, absolutely nothing to be unproductive at. So I’m going to get off my you-know-what and do something more than take up space. Sure, I’ll complain. And I won’t lose my I’m-dressed-and-out-of-bed-what-more-do-you-want-from-me? attitude. But secretly, I know that being idle isn’t just unproductive. It’s not fun. After all, if I were doing nothing, what would I have to complain about?

As I write this, my parents are doing their best to inspire me. Clever psychologists that they are, they’re using every tool they’ve got. “When I was your age… ,” they say, employing their own nostalgia in an effort to convince me that work is good and that I’ll remember this job for the rest of my life. But how can I buy into nostalgia if I can’t remember what was said a minute ago?

One thing I do remember: ADHD can be a gift. It’s a curse only if you let it be, and that’s something I’ll never do.

Whatever I wind up doing this summer, I know that things will work out best if the job has lots of structure. I need to be told what to do, when to start doing it, and when to stop. No freelancing for me. Nope. Not unless my new boss is looking for a little continuing education on the perils of ADHD in the workplace.