The Art of ADD

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” Henry Ward Beecher

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Andrea and I am your personal trainer, your drill sergeant, your muse. I am also your biggest fan.

I am here to do one thing: inspire you with my mission. My mission is anything but impossible. I want you to let go of all your negative perceptions of yourself and your ADD, and embrace an entirely different concept of who you are. You may not even identify yourself as having ADD, but are someone who senses something different about yourself when you look around at your peers. You see them going about their normal nine-to-fives, collected and organized, and seeming to “have it together”. You wonder if you’re missing something. I am talking to that awkwardness in you.

This mission may sound grandiose and naïve, but it is critically important. Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, are counting on you. Some of these people haven’t even been born yet.

To some, my mission may seem inane. I don’t care. They don’t have to read this blog and frankly, it’s not for them. It’s for the rest of you, who don’t want to feel bad anymore and are ready to put your foot down on self-deprecation. Not just put your foot down on it, but lay the boots to it.

I will offer this warning, akin to a drug ad on TV. I am obliged to warn you of what side effects you may experience from reading my blog.

You may learn to like yourself. You may learn to live in an entirely different way, and I can guarantee it won’t be anything like the way your peers in the so-called normal world live. You may begin to understand your ADD brain (or awkwardness in life, if that’s the case), and to work with it – instead of against it. You may even learn to like it. You may learn to like you.

I am not a syrupy-sweet transformational blogger who oozes flippant advice on positivity and loving yourself. Sweetness won’t cut it in this revolution. I am a realist who knows that self-defeatist attitudes serve no purpose in this world and especially in your life. If I were an action hero, I would be Pollyanna with a pistol – pointed straight at the heart of the scoundrel who says you aren’t good enough.

Why the Art of ADD?

I believe that anything done well becomes an art in its own rite. Michael Schumacher was an artist behind the wheel. Richard Branson is an artist of business and enterprise. Chris Guillebeau is an artist at unconventional living.

I want you to become an artist of ADD.

I am not interested in prescribing methods of overcoming or managing your ADD so well that you become “normal”. Normal bores me, and let’s face it – no matter how hard you try, you will never be “neurotypical”.

The Art of ADD is not tactical or technique-driven by nature, though I do know a few tips and tricks I will happily share from time to time. I will also point you to some great resources that have helped me manage the challenges of ADD. But I am more interested in experience, and right now I want to help you have the best experience of ADD possible – one you may not have imagined possible.

So spread apart your feet, widen your base, throw your hands up in the air and lift your face to the sky. You have ADD and you are going to rock it my friend. We need to stand up and show the other members of our tribe that we have a place in this world, a very functional and useful place, and what we contribute cannot be offered by anyone else.

But first, we have to see what we are worth, accept that our value comes with taxation (yes, we will always have challenges). Then we must grow this wealth and share it.

You’ve more than likely had years of criticism and experience telling you how crap you are. A significant chunk of this psychological warfare has been in your own head, no doubt. It’s time to let it go. We won’t pretend that everything about ADD is awesome or cool. It’s not, and no one knows that better than we do. But we can be awesome and cool – we can be amazing, in spite of and because of our ADD. Don’t mistake art for perfection – even masterpieces have flaws.

Why is this so important? Right now, somewhere in the world, a little boy (or girl, but let’s say boy for convenience) is sitting there wondering what is wrong him and why he can’t be just like everyone else. He will have heard messages from his teachers, his friends and even family members (covertly or directly) that how he is … that who he is … is wrong.

“Sit down, shut up and do as you’re told”

seems to be the ethos that tells this little boy – who can’t sit quietly as easily as his peers – there is something wrong with him. The message that tells him he isn’t good enough, intended or not, will sync with that boy’s psyche day after day, until one day he believes it as truth. And they will affect his entire life. At best, he will fail to live up to his potential, and his gifts will be lost to a label of brokenness. At worst, he will fight against himself, until he becomes someone he was never intended to be. Maybe you know this boy. Maybe he’s you.

He needs you and me. He needs us to show him that ADD, or that being different, is not the worst thing in the world. He needs to know that he can live masterfully, playing towards his strengths, and that opportunities open up for him when he does so. He needs to know that “different” can do good things in this world, and that his “differentness” is an integral part of who he is.

He needs to know he is not broken; ADD is part of his unique brain- he can use it for a greater good.

He, and thousands of others, need this. And we can lead the way for them by bringing our own gifts to this world. We start by embracing who we are, then living the best way we can, in our own wayThe ADD way.

As a little disclosure: although I write this blog with intention for ADDers, I use that concept to include a wider group of people who may not identify themselves as having ADD, though they may experience some of the symptoms at times. To be honest, everyone experiences some of the symptoms, some of the time. I write for people who are unconventional, who think differently than the norm. People who want different things from life than the “Joneses” do, but are bombarded by the whispers of pop prophets telling them “the right way to live” (get a degree, a high paying job, climb the corporate ladder, buy more things!). People who want more spontaneity and joy from life, not just paychecks, credentials, bigger houses and all those other things that supposedly make you feel good about yourself.

The Art of ADD can be applied to anyone who wants to live their life in their own way, one that is congruent with the way they are built, and in line with their values.

It is also about honesty, integrity, authenticity and responsibilityIt’s about being you in this world, in your own artful way.

Lastly but most of all, the Art of ADD is about sharing. Being the best you can be is pointless if it serves your own reward. Being comfortable in your own skin, self-aware of your abilities and challenges, and authentically accepting them, puts you in a better position to help other people be the best that they can be.

Which is, in my opinion, what life is really all about.

Please share this with those ADDers you think are awesome, and remind them that their uniqueness is their art in this world!
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14 comments on “The Art of ADD

  1. Jody – thank you for your very kind words! I hope that I can frame ADD in a different light. Not to say that I want ignore all the challenges (for ADDers and for others because of ADD traits), but to highlight that there are some very real strengths that come along as well. Thank you for reading!

  2. Wow! This is fabulous! Well done. I look forward to reading along your blog of discovery and learning and in particular seeing ADD from a different perspective – your enlightening yet comical perspective – which will certainly be enlightening and entertaining. Well done you!!

  3. Shelley, Erika & A – Thank you so much for your comments and support, all three of you are inspirational in your own rites so to get this kind of accolade from you really means a lot!

  4. Well done, Andrea! And congratulations!! Your passion, authenticity, and hard work is shining through… Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop! It feels just like our great coffee talks, and I look forward to more. 🙂
    I know this and everything you are doing will be a huge success. Xoxo

  5. Love it, love it, love it!!! Soooo many points rang true with me! You are so right; that little boy(or girl) needs you and me and all of us to let them know this world NEEDS their differences. Whatever “normal” is, I want no part of it! Thank you so, so much for all your encouraging words. I can not wait to read more!!!!

  6. Andy, you are such an incredibly gifted and beautiful person that has so much to share in making this world a better place. Your love and passion in helping yourself and others live great and successful lives with ADHD is so needed. It’s becoming such a common diagnosis yet so few people really understand or know how to live their lives to the fullest with ADHD. You and your website are such an inspiration to so many and through it, you are going to impact lives! Way to go Girl! Shellxo

  7. Thank you everyone for your supportive and lovely comments.

    Chris – thanks for EVERYTHING, without you I wouldn’t have been able to do this!

    Juliann – you are Pollyanna with a pistol and SO MUCH MORE 🙂

    Carrie – I hope your daughter does get hope from this blog. There are a lot of ADD blogs (see my blog roll!) that can give her a lot more inspiration than some of the clinical stuff does.

    Dennis – Thanks very much, I hope my future posts keep up the standard. Be sure to let me know if they don’t!

    Zoe – Thanks for the accolades, very much an honour coming from an expert blogger such as yourself!

    Carolyn – You’ve got such a unique perspective on the topic, being a teacher. Thanks for sharing and for support. Would love some ideas from you on the challenges teachers face in dealing with ADD students!

    Leah – Kind words, thank you my friend for your encouragement and support as always!

  8. Wow, love this Andrea! Your positivity is infectious, and your approach is incredibly appealing. Looking forward to reading more.

  9. “Normal bores me” – I love it, that sums you up my friend! This website is very well written, insightful and refreshingly honest. My limited experience of this subject is spending a year with an ADHD 10 year old in my class. It was one of the biggest learning experiences of my teaching career so far and of all the reading I did around ADHD this is the most straightforward and no-nonsense. It is interesting to read such a positive approach. You have obviously put a great deal of effort into this site and your blog. Good luck with everything, I’m sure it will be a huge success. xx

  10. Welcome to the wonderful world of online ADHD advocacy, Andrea!

    I’ve been enjoying your Tweets, and appreciate your positive, upbeat approach and your delightful sense of humour.

    I’m looking forward to marvelous things from you, and will be sure to stop in here at your new site often.

    Congratulations on the launch, and keep up the great work!

    All my best,
    Zoë Kessler (fellow blogger and Chick A-D-D)
    Author, Speaker, Journalist and Blogger, Psych Central, ADHD from A to Zoë

  11. This is captivating and so well written. My ADHD 13year old will benefit from reading this. She is losing her way and we are losing our will. For her to read about ADHD from a person with animation and hope, rather than articles written by psychologists and psychiatrists who irritate and frustrate us so much. So many thanks for this blog

  12. Hey Andrea. We just wanted to say well done and congratulations for all the hard work you’ve put into launching this blog. You’ve done an amazing job and we’re 100% certain it will be a huge success and will undoubtedly be a big help to many people struggling with their ADD. We are so proud of you and think we have a very talented and amazing wife and mummy. You go girl!! Lots of love, C, I and Lxx

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