The Forums Forums The Workplace ADHD-Friendly Careers Finding direction sucks when you don't have a compass

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    #88210 |

    I’m 26 going on 18, you know? I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life and I find it really frustrating. I should at least have a reasonable idea of what I’m headed toward! Instead I’m teaching English because TESOL groups will give me a job and a year-to-year contract.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like teaching, and I’m pretty good at it.

    But, I’m also good at writing

    And drawing

    and theology

    and nutrition

    and psychology

    and discerning body language

    and crafts

    and water painting

    and photography

    and gardening

    and home repair

    and cooking

    and decorating


    One of my coworkers last year said I was like the girl on Heroes who could look at a clip of someone doing something and then do it herself. The Mimic or something. I think that’s a pretty accurate description. Jack of all trades, master of none.

    Do you see what I mean?

    So, I’m really confused about what to do, what would be best. Particularly because the one skill I definitely don’t have is making contacts. I can’t meet someone one or two times and remember their name and their kids’ names and what they do and endear myself to them so they want to do me favors. That political stuff is beyond me. But, I’m always hearing that unless you have contacts on the inside you won’t ever get a good job.

    What is a good job anyway?

    I’d like to be a wife and a mother, have a shop or a booth at the local craft fair. Volunteer. I don’t want to scale corporate ladders. But, I’m supposed to. I’m not supposed to let this talent go to waste, but I don’t even know how to use it.

    I know what I’d like, but it doesn’t seem like the right things to like and I don’t know how to get to it or anything else. I’m horrible at finishing projects, or paying attention during conversations, or allotting my motivation. I only got mediocre uni grades (I was even told by a prof that I only passed because of my talent, which is pretty pathetic really. No skill, no motivation, just raw potential. Useless). When the interview gets to “why should we give this job to you and not someone else?” I never have an answer. I won’t lie and say I’m the best at the job, there are always people better than me. I’m not going to say I’ll dedicate my life to the job (who does that anyway?), because that would be an outright lie. So…what then?


    #92393 |

    I just wrote a HUGE response to your post briochick and then after I wrote it, I realized how negative I sounded in it. I wrote of how the world doesn’t cater to us renaissance types etc etc and bitching about becoming a minion (or being entertained by them – it was a long one) etc. Then I thought to myself:

    Words are powerful. Especially those that we invest thought and action into. If I think negatively and then go about typing it out or writing it down, I am reinfocing their potential to actually MEAN something to me. Then I thought of an image of someone who is covered by the choking smoke of apathy and being suppressed into the floor, never breathing the air of success above. It then occured to me that in my analysis of what’s WRONG in my life, I have become inattentive to what’s RIGHT in it.

    Yes, having to settle for a job to pay bills sucks. Yes, I find that most jobs are about keeping up an appearance or flying under the radar or expertly adjusting yourself in a political setting (which is IMMENSELY difficult for us ADDers I think – something to do with being incapable of BS I believe). But honestly, isn’t it just a means to an end for for us? It allows us to do in our free time what pleases us, no? Spending time with friends and a nice cold beer by the dock etc etc. I must look at it thusly. If I do not, I will never breathe the air of success – which to me, is enjoying my life the best way I can given the fact that the World we live in is supported wholly by the machinations of earning. What’s the alternative? Being poor? Not having freedom? No thanks. Been there. It aint fun.

    I’m not sure that this is “help” of any kind, but rather a viewpoint of riding alongside what you know to be evil, all the while keeping a vigilant eye upon it’s every movement, a hand on the hilt of a finely edged sword and the other eye marvelling at the beauty of all that passes by.

    #92394 |

    lol, thank you for not being negative. It’s so easy, when you’re smart and low on bs tolerance, to be positive.

    Do you have any idea of what are good jobs for adders with multiple talents?

    Should I pursue my muse or settle for doing a simple job well?

    #92395 |

    Hi, Briochick!

    I have done a lot of investigating as to what jobs a person with ADHD can do, as I am trying to find that one out myself…

    But from my research, that’s like asking “what is a good job for someone with blue eyes?” Apparently, we can do anything AS LONG AS WE ARE INTERESTED IN IT. As soon as the interest is gone, so is the desire to do the job.

    Based on my experience, the best jobs for me were the ones allowing me a sense of control, different technical challenges, allowing the use of an “outside the box” solution and, funnily enough, changes in scenery or location.

    And very little paper work. As we all know paperwork… repeat after me…. “Is like Kryptonite”.

    But now, most jobs are basically about “knowledge transfer” and very few things are actually made anymore. Most of the “knowledge transfer” jobs are essentially mind numbing (think accounting, or compiling insurance actuarial tables), well, you get the picture. Not that there is anything wrong with that…I’m just saying, in my opinion, it’s not for ADHDers.

    I sort of do that kind of thing in my current job. It didn’t start out that way, but now there is an avalanche of status logs, tracking data and a really insane, almost obsessive need for data. Status, status, status, data, data, data all day.. every day. I’m really thinking the people who require all this data are suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). They need meds more than we do!

    Actually, I think working where I do is stating to make me stupid. I have to slow down my thinking to keep up with the pace of the work. Then there is the “Cube Farm” environment with gray walls. All the visual stimulation of a mental ward…and you get to do this for at least 40 hrs per week,,,,,

    Any place I’ve been working in supervisors and managers have generally been impressed with my intelligence and drive. Someone actually said, “highly regarded”. But when I see some of the crap we have to wade through to our jobs, my brain kicks into overdrive trying to come with a better way or a more efficient solution to things. Then, I think, the supervisors and managers are a little intimidated by me, because I sometimes expose things that are better off not said or done. Because I can make these people look bad? Because they didn’t think of these things?

    Anyway, Briochick, find what you abilities are, what you really enjoy doing and focus on that. Perhaps an career coach would be a good start? Employment Canada often has courses for people looking for career changes and often provide aptitude testing and skills analysis. Think “skills transfer’ and go from there.

    Hope that helps…

    #92396 |

    girl… it’s the “jill of all traits” scenario that unfortunately you have to deal with on two levels…. 1)your adhd, and 2) your Xnfp.

    i’m struggling with distinguishing b/w the two myself.


    #92397 |

    briochick, I found that the hospitality industry held my interest for awhile when I was younger. Now the money isn’t over the moon great but there are so many different things happening and it has a very vibrant culture to it. I’m not sure I’d recommend it for anyone over say 25 if you have large bills (mortgage, car, etc) but it can be rewarding in that you’re working with different people and personality is encouraged.

    I can tell you that a cubicle job is likely the WORST thing you could do with ADD. Usually, those types of job require that you stay on the rails so to speak and never deviate from the status quo. In other words, the same boring crap every day, every hour, every minute. Not my idea of fun and certainly not inspiring to anyone with even the slightest modicum of creativity.

    Apparently, acting is supposed to be an incredibly rewarding career choice for us. Quite a few notable actors are ADHD/ADD from what I’ve heard. I assume it allows us the creative freedom and the variance we crave – after all, you’re ‘playing make-believe’ essentially and have a different role each time. The only trouble with acting though is that in order to make any money at it, you need to really know people in the biz or already be established. I tried doing extra work once and although the waiting around was a bit difficult at times (I waited 10 hours once for a 30 second scene), the people you meet are quite interesting and it is quite a fascinating industry. Doesn’t pay well either at about $12 an hour.

    I myself, am in sales. Do I love it? Meh. Not always. I’d much rather be a teacher (another good one for us apparently) or travel the world experimenting with food, but it pays well and I know it like the back of my hand. it also gives me a chance to meet new people each day and add my personality to the job but having to be accountable to performance, targets, etc is a bit of a drag.

    I was told by my therapist that there’s a book called “What Colour Is Your Parachute” or something like that where it determines through various questions what career would be best suited to your personality type. Worth looking into at least.

    #92398 |

    Hey briochick – I work in a children’s rehab centre, in a job that is probably the most “perfect for me” one that I have ever had (caveat: I love kids, and have a lot of patience with them; also, I love being in the water).

    I work in the pool as a lifeguard and instructor. I see different kids (for the most part) every day; my groups change every 30 minutes; there are four sessions each year, so things get “re-set” and I wind up with some new kids/some returning kids 4x/year; I get to sing and be goofy and throw kids in the air; I get to be physical; and I get to be *very* creative (figuring out how to teach/modify skills for a particular child with a particular disability can be a real brain-bender). And sometimes, as a lifeguard, I get the adrenaline boost of a rescue/first aid situation.

    After trying *many* post-secondary programs in my 20s (I think I’m 28-going-on-19 – I really like your phrasing :), I am studying Occupational and Physiotherapy Assisting – in a lot of ways, doing what I do now, with more knowledge of anatomy/physiology/kinesiology, and not just working in the pool. Many of the people I work with comment on how “wise” I am (one of my classmates told me that I “exude knowledge”) – I definitely know what it’s like to be a Renaissance Chick, and I’m lucky to have found myself in a job that lets me use many of my abilities every day (with minimal paperwork :). This may or may not be helpful to you – I would second ADDled’s advice about looking for some outside assistance (if $$$ allows) – even a “regular” counselor would probably be able to guide you through a process of reflecting on your strengths, and figuring out what to do with them. Good luck!

    #92399 |

    Also, regarding your list of things that you’re good at, I was in the same boat at the end of high school/through much of my 20s (it made settling on any one thing really really difficult!). What it took to make me realize that there were some things that I was “extra” good at, and that made me happy, was finding myself in a job that used those skills. So, experimenting with different work (as long as you can pay the bills!) can be a very valuable tool for self-discovery. Related to the above suggestion to see a counselor if you can, I know that Dr. Jain is always talking about how one of the essential elements of ADHD treatment is building self-esteem – I bet you have more assets to bring to a workplace than you think you do, and that probably a lifetime of “you’re not living up to your potential”-type comments has done a bit of a number on your sense of self-worth.

    I would also suggest trying to eliminate “supposed to” from your vocabulary (and I know how tough that is – I have a list of regrets a mile long, and the little voice that says “You’re supposed to own a house by now, you’re not supposed to have so much debt, you’re not supposed to cause your husband so much stress, and you’re not supposed to be in school – or if you are, you’re supposed to be in a PhD program, etc. etc.”). It is a seductive voice, but listening to it is not productive – things are the way they are, and today is what it is – I *try* to learn from the past, and then let it go (much easier now that I can focus on thinking about the past!). Are the things that I like now the “right things”? I’m happy with my work, I’m happy with where I’m going, I feel like I am making a contribution to society, and I have people who do respect me despite the lack of letters after my name (including a friend who is a PhD student :).

    A suggestion for trying out crafting – have you considered opening a shop on Etsy? Or even starting your own online store? (This is the website of an acquaintance: – she has to work hard, but she loves what she does.)

    #92400 |

    I’m 33 and like you, good at everything, master of nothing. I was a line cook and then a chef for almost 15yrs. Perfect for me, I was on my feet all day running around. Also if you’ve ever worked with other cooks, we’re all a bit Now I’m Develomental Service Worker, this is still new for me, I need to do a lot of adapting. I think that’s the key though “I” need to change and grow some more.

    It requires me to do paper work, and holds me accountable, it requires me to slow down soemtimes and think. It also has me working with high behavioural individuals, and holds my intrest when I spend 90min. blocking hits from an individual. I like that I’m still challenged, on my toes and on the go.

    I love helping and taking care of people, ultimately that was what I wanted. I also like the challenges and the personal growth. I know my limitations, I’d never be able to do a desk job. I’d say be aware of your limits, try things out. Good luck in your search.

    #92401 |

    Wow, thank you all for your responses and advice. I don’t know what I’m best at, that’s part of the problem, and I’m also unsure that my best is better than anyone else’s best. You know?

    I would get a life coach but 1. don’t have the money. 2 moving to south korea in less than two weeks.

    #92402 |

    I think that there are some online life coaching services? Might be less spendy? Do you have a friend who would be willing to be your “ADHD/Life Coach”? I have a friend who has been willing to take on that role, and she has been a huge help to me – we set out boundaries for our “friendship” interactions, and our “coaching” interactions, and so far, it has worked out well. We do a lot of the “coaching” via email, because she and I are both crazy-busy most of the time.

    #92403 |

    purlgurl; thank you for that suggestion. Online seems like it would work better. :)

    I don’t have many close friends (which has always been an issue for me) so I can’t really go that route, but I’m glad that that worked for you.

    #92404 |

    You have bought into the belief that you have to have a career and only do one thing. Sure that’s the way the world wants you to be. It makes it easier to market to you and it’s cheaper for big corporations if people are willing to be drones and climb into cubicles until they go postal.

    Think of all the people lack your talents… scratch that, all the people who don’t believe they have a lot of talents because they’ve never tried a lot of stuff, or more often, just gave up the first few times they messed up.

    (Imagine if we didn’t learn to walk until we were thirty. People would take a step, fall, like a baby does, maybe try it a few more times, maybe even try for a whole hour, and then go, “Clearly, I’m not good at this.” Babies don’t care how they look or if they fail. They just want to walk.)

    Sorry, I diverged!

    Think of all the people who would envy your set of skills.

    Why make a single career? Why do one thing?

    Or even better, combine a bunch of things you like a create a whole new career path. Someone took High School year books and computers and created Facebook.

    #92405 |

    Briochick— thanks for writing this out for me. It was like someone was reading my mind. I too at 37 going 27 am having issues finding a job/career. But this is what i am doing cause I am Jill of trades too… I went on and did some of their questionnaires and it gives you a list of jobs you can do based on your strengths and weakness are. And now I am taking that list with my superlong resume to Northern Light,s an Ont program, to help me find something better.

    I want to say to you all, I am so happy I found this forum cause it has really helped me get through my day knowing I am not alone with this.

    #92406 |

    Briochick/ALL…I’m new to but have always felt like I was 50 going on 18….A week ago I took the on-line test, after hearing Rick Green on Breakfast Television, because I like tests and scored 29/30…OK maybe I’ll read something about this…joined the forum. HOLY CRAP, I’m all of those things, They call me the swiss army knife at work, I’m the graphic artist/I.T. Person/Spreadsheet guy/Parking Lot shoveler…etc. BUT I’m 10 years behind on my taxes. Everybody comes to me with hard problems, BUT I live in a basement apartment. I my friends kids favorite uncle, BUT can’t maintain a relationship. Talk about needing a compass…I still remember hearing the line from the Pink Floyd song “Time”: No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”. Hey does anybody else find it easy to do the hardest things for other people, totally rearrange your schedule but can’t be bothered to do anything for yourself?

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