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Untapped potential?

Untapped potential?2014-07-31T22:19:58+00:00

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey Venting! Untapped potential?

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    Post count: 15

    One of the many things I seem to constantly wrestle with is  this feeling of an untapped potential. Of course, I know this could all be something made up in my head, so for years I’ve hyper-analysed my own motives and way of thought, creating more made up motives and thoughts, thus “choking my art.”

    I don’t understand what it could be or how to “access” it. There are many things I like to do and there are many different perspectives I seem to have. I know it must be something that I’m very motivated to do, as I often have trouble with motivation. It worries me, this lack of insight because I see myself as especially insightful for my age, and have been told  that I am on a regular basis.

    One of the very few consistencies in my various and inconsistent habits, is this constant need for further insight. I seem to be quite keen on further understanding myself, in the hopes I can create a richer life for myself and therefore, the people around me.

    I’m 18 now, with very little schooling and even smaller work experience. This need for insight has consumed everything I do. Both myself and my family are beginning to pressure me to “get on with my life.” Believe me, I want to, I just don’t know how. I suppose I lack a “calling” and it is such a calling I need to motivate me to move on and truly become an adult.

    The thing is, there are so many things I want to do, I just can’t choose one and I can’t seem to find something that encompasses all of them, as they are so diverse and often contradicting. I want to become some sort of extremist in a truly helpful and peaceful religion, and help others reach their peace, as I reach mine. I want to be some genius freak who knows everything about everything, and never feel that worrisome “I don’t know.” I want to be a clinical psychologist, I want to be an experimental psychologist, I want to be a philosopher, I want to be a teacher, I want to be a novelist, I want to be a journalist, I want to be an artist, I want to be a musician. See, I can’t tie down to any one thing.

    All of the listed only have a fragment of my attention span. When I try to become fully invested in one thing or the other, I get bored, a part of me feels denied, and I forget about it. It becomes even more worrisome when those around me think I don’t want to do anything.

    I want to do everything.

    I just don’t know where to start. Any one thing doesn’t seem satisfying enough and I just don’t know what to do.


    Post count: 906


    No, it is not something that is all made up in your head. Untapped potential is something we all wrestle with. The question of how to tap it is a difficult one to answer, and one that only you can figure out.

    The hyper-analysis, or as I like to say, analysis paralysis, is also a common problem with ADHD. We have a tendency to live inside our heads. Understanding yourself is a good thing, but you have to watch that you don’t overdo it and start going around in circles in your head.

    Writing things down can help. When you have one of those “A-Ha!” moments, take a minute to write down what you have discovered, or record it as a memo on your phone or whatever. Take it from being just an intangible thought inside your head to being something real and tangible.


    LOL, I just read the second half of your post. Your list of things you want to do is almost word for word identical to mine. Especially the genius freak who knows everything. Except the religion, but I have considered it. I have come to the conclusion that I am just not the inner peace type.

    Anyway, remember  that you are still young and you have time. I know it feels like you have to do everything all at once, right now, but you don’t. You also don’t have to be stuck with whatever you choose forever. It is possible to do all of those things, one or two at a time. I highly recommend considering how you will earn a living first. Remember, there is a reason we have the saying “starving artist”. But motivation is the key, like you said. The more motivated you are, the better your chances for success. So don’t make a choice that is purely practical, just for a paycheque, either.

    Only you can decide which way to go. It helps to think about what really matters most to you, which it sounds like you have been doing. If you really can’t decide, then just take a leap and go for something. Chances are once you start that motivation will kick in. And when you get bogged down and start feeling restless and bored, there are a few tricks you can use to get yourself going again. One is to create a sense of urgency. Set a short term goal for yourself , like accomplishing one part of the task in the next 15 minutes. Then when that one is done, set another goal. Or use your imagination. Pretend that aliens are invading Earth and the fate of all humankind depends upon you completing this task. Another trick is to associate what you need to do with something  that is very important to you, one of your core values. Think about saving the whales, feeding the homeless, helping people fine inner peace,  and then transfer the energy and motivation that you feel from that to what you need to do.

    These  are things that have worked, to some extent, for me, though I never knew what I was doing until recently.  But when I read about it I realized I have been doing it all my life. I like sci-fi and fantasy books and I am often daydreaming about whatever I am reading while I am working. And if I think about a particularly exciting or action packed part of the story, I will usually speed up and get the work done faster. The same is true for anything that is extremely thought provoking, like a story that has a lot of nuances and layers of hidden meanings in it. I will keep going over it in my mind, picking apart the layers finding all the little subtle meanings and different angles and possibilities. It keeps my brain busy so it helps me to focus, as long as I don’t focus too much on the monologue going on in my head.

    I hope this helps a little. Not knowing how to get started is one of the biggest challenges we all face. Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time. If you have to, break down each step into tinier steps.  I will sometimes write out all the steps it takes to do one job. I have found that instead of just “clean living room” it works better if I write 1) clear coffee table off and put things away 2) clean coffee table 3) pick up things on floor and put away  4) Vacuum carpet… etc. It may seem silly and even a little embarrassing, but you have to do have to do what you have to do.


    Post count: 119


    Thanks for being so open and honest about your thoughts, feelings and struggles. Your description of your struggles with motivation hits close to home. It always amazes me how much everyone on this forum has in common regardless of age (I’m 47), gender, education, etc. I remember the struggles I had at your age. I think what happens is that we’re transitioning into the land of adult expectations. There’s an increased sense of pressure for us to fall into line. I don’t know about you, but I don’t respond well to external pressures. You just want to tell everyone to leave you alone so you can figure it out. For me when I was your age I eventually impulsively enlisted in the military after watching the movie “An Officer and A Gentleman” . Let me just say that things didn’t turn out that great. I wanted the military to fix me, to make me into a good person. I had no clue what was going on with me. I just knew the years that had past were full of struggle. I’m so glad that you’re finding out about this now, and I think it’s great that you’re reaching out. Do me a favor, don’t enlist without some consult first. 🙂

    I’ve always tried to find something to wake me up, that would give me the motivation that you are talking about. The normal stuff that motivates others, just doesn’t seem to do it for us. For me, I think it was this idea that a bolt of lightning would come down and change everything. Never seemed to happen though. Well, the ADHD diagnosis came pretty close. THANK GOD!

    What works for some may not work for others. I can only say what has worked for me.

    Meditation on some level helps me distance my thoughts from my actions. It helps calm my mind and decreases the emotional disregulation and impulsivity. I’m not talking about some obsessive religious idea or practice, just a simple down to earth concept. There’s a book that focuses on ADHD and MEDITATION. I can’t remember the name of it, but others on this forum will be able to tell you. The book can be found in the store on this site.

    Don’t overthink things(easier said than done). What I believe that I’m doing when I am overthinking or over-philosophizing (is that spelled right?) is that I’m searching for that bolt of lightning to wake my brain up. My brain loves struggle and anxiety. Negative thinking is another thing my brain uses to try to wake itself up.

    Motivation comes with the first step. I pick the smallest thing to do and do it. I’m talking really small. Take the computer out of sleep mode or make it to the coffee maker, put on shoes,etc. then I pick another thing. Before I know it my starter motor has kicked in. Remember, we’re like an old car that doesn’t want to start, but once it gets started it does pretty o.k. at least until it has to be started again (talking about task changing).

    Try to get sleep. Find out how much you need. I need 9 hours to feel really good. With 6 to 8 I can function (sliding scale).

    There’s more stuff, but I don’t remember and to be honest I can’t focus any longer.


    Keep it simple, when you can. 🙂




    Post count: 5

    When I was your age, I had no clue of what I wanted to do.  Be happy that you have so many interests.  Like someone else who responded, and I believe we are the same age, I have some of the same desires as you now.

    I’m not sure, but I think I would be a good therapist, probably because I’ve been through so many Dr.’s, and therapists that I know the good, from the bad, from the ugly.

    The thing is, and I can only speak for myself, I find that I am quite good at a lot of things, but master of only a couple.  After going through my emotional journey, changing the world for the better, at least I thought so, there are so many other things I would like to still accomplish.

    To quote another Richard Geer movie, when asked how far he went in school, he replied “all the way.”  I have degrees that frankly mean nothing, it’s nice to say you have them, but the problem was I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into one profession, so by taking summer classes, and getting  my graduate degrees, I thought, life would be easy…how wrong I was, I was clueless about anything other than knowing how to get a degree without cracking a book…NOW THAT WOULD BE A DEGREE I WOULD PROUDLY HANG ON THE WALL. Why?  Because it would be funny, and a conversation piece, but also remind me that I am no longer ashamed, or feel like a fraud…I learned how to pass using different avenues than the average student.

    After grad. school, I still questioned every move that I made, I second-guessed myself, made rash off the cuff decisions that did not turn out too well…all in the quest for acceptance, understanding, and peace.  Turns out, I couldn’t attain any of those things…I was ADHD and didn’t know it until I was in my 30’s. 

    At least you know, knowledge is power, be grateful for what you have, and take it one idea at a time.


    Post count: 15

    Thank you so much for your insight, it really helps to know that I’m not the only one.

    ..wow, I was going to get further into this response but it is now 6AM and I’ve yet to sleep.

    I suppose sleep should be the first step.

    Your support means the world!



    Post count: 845

    I can relate to the know everything/do everything.

    I once took some gourmet cooking classes.  One time while making Chicken Kiev, I started thinking of how I was not only cooking the supper, but had made the cabinet housing the built in oven/stove from wood I had taken from the ceiling while I was restoring the house in which we were living.  As well as building all other cabinetry, installing the wiring and plumbing to the kitchen and house, the insulation and sheet rock and painting, not to forget the roof or leveling of the house and repointing the piers.  I even fathered the children who would eat the meal and made the cradle in which they slept as infants.

    Same story with the cars I drive.

    Gardening?  Texas Master Gardener

    Sailing – Graduate Westlawn School of Yacht Design

    The list goes on .  .  .

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