Shame

If you ask me, I'm not a hard worker. I don't consider myself motivated, passionate, driven, or anything else of the sort. Nope. I'm lazy, incompetent, inept, unfocused. I'm too indecisive and lethargic to accomplish the things I need to. Even now, I have 9 tabs open for no reason other than to distract myself from studying. At the same time, I'm staring at my phone, waiting for it to buzz so I can attend to someone's message. I deleted all the games on my devices to help myself focus on the important things, but those have only been replaced by endless Tumblr voids and Instagram spirals. Definitely not the traits of a hard worker.


For years, I told myself and was told by the people around me that I could do better if only I tried. If only I put in the energy, did the work, added the hours, used my brain, I could tap into my potential. Or at least that was the theory. The issue is, I'm lazy. I don't try hard enough. I don't do the work. I make everything last-minute. I procrastinate like my life depends on it. I have a hard time keeping up in school, and every parent-teacher meeting is a monotonous repetition of "she has the potential to do better".


And I believe it too. Nothing I ever do is enough because I could have done more if I was neurotypical. And nothing I do can ever be enough for me because then I'll just be the complacent kid who uses ADHD as an excuse to slack off. So I tell myself to work harder only to wind up in a social media rabbit hole hours later.


So what can I do but tell people I have ADHD and I'm trying to concentrate but it's hard to do that assignment when all my energy goes into getting myself to read the first question? But to that, I get "don't blame it on ADHD", or "it happens to everyone, get over it", or "just put away your phone and you'll be fine uwu". There's even the occasional sigh and "this was never an issue before?".


But here's the thing: it was an issue before. But I never talked about it. Why? Simple. I was ashamed. Not just of my inattention, but of all the little things I do that I've only recently realized are caused by my ADHD. I zone out when people talk to me, and I have to actively remind myself to listen. I forget what people say right after they finish talking. When biology class isn't interesting enough I will internally go crazy if I don't find something more stimulating to do. I have to remind myself why I'm looking at my watch and why I entered these rooms and what I was supposed to be doing, but at the same time, I can remember that one fun fact about a movie I watched years ago, or hyperfocus on learning a script or writing for hours. I can't channel the energy I put into my interests into studying or tedious tasks because that's just not how my brain works.


But for a long time, I didn't know that. I didn't realize that people could regulate their attention better than I could. I thought everyone was operating on the same level as me, and that I wasn't putting in as much effort as the rest. I would look at all these people in class quietly doing their work and I'd be amazed. Because I thought it took everyone else the same amount of effort and energy just to start working, I assumed I was less hardworking and dedicated than them. And I was ashamed because it was clearly just a weird character flaw that I never listen and never remember and can't concentrate. I'm just not trying like everyone else is.


So yeah, I never talked about my symptoms before I found out I had ADHD for the simple reason that I thought everyone else had them too and I was the only one not overcoming these issues. I was too embarrassed to talk about how I lose focus during tests or why it takes me three hours to finish one worksheet because I thought things were that hard for everyone too. So I just told myself to try harder. And I shamed myself into attempting to concentrate and finish tasks as everyone else did. And when it didn't work, I would shame myself some more until all I could think about was how incompetent and incapable I was for not trying hard enough, even though I was probably trying harder than my neurotypical classmates just to get through half the work they could do.


This is why I hate when people tell me to try harder or that if I put my mind to it I can focus. Because it doesn't work like that, and I've already wasted so much time on things like this that just don't work for me. When you tell someone with ADHD to try harder, you're not even recognizing the fact that they're already trying ten times as hard to do things a neurotypical person can do without much effort. And all you're doing is invalidating them for trying in the first place.

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