Teacher: “Grace. Grace? What did I just say?”
Me to myself: Shit, I did it again.
Most teachers would ask me this on a regular basis in school. This was their favorite way to embarrass the shy little girl that was always in her imagination. Okay, maybe, it wasn’t their aim to embarrass me (but I am pretty sure some of my teachers got a kick out of it), but it really did embarrass me. I never had an answer, because I of course was not paying attention. You see, when a teacher calls you out in class, the whole damn class just likes to turn around and shoot a quick look at whoever’s name the teacher called. When I was younger, having a bunch of my classmates stare at me was the equivalent to the ending of the world, at least my world. My face would turn hot, my stomach would drop, and there would be a deep sinking feeling in my chest.
My inability to pay attention in school, did not hold me back in anyway, although many adults thought it would. I still learned. I liked to read. I could pay attention, at times, but for the most part, I was good at figuring things out on my own. I mean sometimes, I would have an anxiety attack over schoolwork, and make a big pointless fuss just to find out, that I was capable of doing the work. I wasted a ton of time getting anxious about schoolwork. I always got it done, so I don’t know what I was necessarily worried about. I think, I was really just in resistance to most of the work. I would find myself questioning it. I felt I did not need most of the information being given to me. The homework assignments and projects, were silly and useless. I just saw little point in most of what was done in school, and felt my time was being wasted. This led me to live a very unhappy life, because I was in resistance to everything I was doing.
I felt my time was being wasted in school, but I would be told I was wasting time, when I was tumbling (I was a cheerleader), or just jumping and dancing around. Basically, anything fun, could not take up too much of my time. School always needed to come first, not personal fulfillment and happiness. I was told I was wasting time dreaming. I needed to be realistic. All these things people would tell me about the “real world” and how I needed to focus on reality, pushed me to the point where I decided I would rather die than to live the life they told me I was supposed to live. I had no other options. I was not told by anyone that my dreams were an option, that my imagination was important, that this could be utilized. I was not told to pursue happiness. I was told to pursue safety. I was told to pursue stability.
I must give my mother credit. When I was younger, she of course told me I could be anything and only wanted my happiness. She was by my side, always there to calm me down, when I had anxiety. She herself lived a life of conforming, and as I got older I realized, that she never felt satisfied with the life she was living. She understood me completely and it was clear, that she only wanted her children to be happy. This should be everybody’s goal, to make themselves and others happy, and not to compete with everybody over silly things such as social status.
The point I am trying to make is ,that kids should not be told they are limited, because they have ADD or ADHD, nor should they believe they can not utilize their imagination. A child’s inability to pay attention for a long period of time or do things perfect and accordingly to how they are told does not limit their potential. A child could have the potential to be an absolute genius, become a talented painter, make new scientific discoveries, invent something, do or be anything they want, but they will not, if they do not believe in themselves. Telling a child that there is something wrong with their curiosity, imagination, and the way they do things in general, will cause them to doubt themselves and they will never see their true potential. Albert Einstein had ADHD. It did not limit him. It does not have to limit anyone else. It can be utilized and this should be recognized by more people.