I’ve been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) since I was around 8 years old, when my parents took me to therapy for the first time. I will fully admit that my ADD has led to a lot of what some people might consider “failures” in my life. I am graduating a semester late in college, because online classes that aren’t go-at-your-own-pace are the bane of my existence. I basically only watch TV shows, because a full-length movie is too much of a time commitment for me. However, having ADD has also taught me a lot about love, life, and learning—and turned me into quite the wise 22-year-old, soon-to-be graduate. Here are the most important lessons I’ve gathered so far.
1. Education is important, but so is giving yourself a break
My last full year at college, I lived with two nursing majors. They were the greatest girls that you could ever possibly live with, but they never stopped studying. If there was a test coming up, they started cracking open the books no less than five days before, which meant going straight from class to the library until bedtime. They lived on caffeinated tea and heavily sweetened French-vanilla coffees for days at a time. My friends and I would beg them to come and hang out, but they were rarely able to, and whenever they could, it had to fit into their study schedules.
My idea of studying is making a great study guide and then reading it repeatedly for the hour leading up to the test, and I manage to do well still. I can’t do the all day study-athon because of my ADD, and it has made me so grateful for my ability to take breaks. I don’t get stressed, ever, because my brain draws me to distracting, funny cat memes instead of studying, something my beautiful roommates never shared or understood.
2. Enjoy the little things
I can be in a deep conversation with my friends, with my boyfriend, with my mom, but I’m still absorbing my environment every moment in my life. A simple walk around the neighborhood becomes an adventure, where I can truly appreciate a cool leaf that I found, or the initials carved into the bench that no one notices. I truly appreciate the little things that I find in my surroundings, that most people wouldn’t notice because they’re so focused on what’s straight ahead: in their future, or just their walkway. It’s also led to some killer eavesdropping, people-watching, and multi-tasking skills.
3. My failures don’t define me
ADD has been the source of a lot of struggles in my life so far. From my issues in school due to attendance and attention, to a lot of personal problems I’ve faced, it’s also taught me, despite those trials and tribulations, that my ADD doesn’t define me, and neither do those failures. There are bad days where I cannot be productive for longer than an hour, and there are good days, where it doesn’t really affect me much, but either way my disorder isn’t what defines me in my life. What defines me are the friendships I’ve made, the positivity and warmth I’ve spread, and how I deal with my struggles, just like everyone else. There are so many more important things in life than pouting about what I’ve done wrong; like celebrating what I’ve done right.
My ADD has taught me how to be positive in the face of consuming negativity. And to never stop appreciating the cute squirrel that just ran into that bush over there.
Becca Perlmutter enjoys spending her time writing, playing board games, playing/writing songs on her ukulele, baking pies, doing art projects, looking at cat memes, and day-dreaming. Follow her on Twitter at @beccamariaa!