The pack mentality of the present school system works for the group often at the expense of the individual.
Case in point. A bright girl enters school already ahead of her classmates in many subject areas.
Are her abilities celebrated, is she challenged, praised, supported in maximizing her potential?
HELL NO! She’s told to stay with the pack, don’t work ahead, do the same busy work as the other students which bores the hell out of her.
This sends the message that education isn’t an individual pursuit. That it needs to be steered by an authority figure who isn’t interested in what you love.
I’m not saying this is the intention, I’m saying this is the message often received. How do I know? I work with these kids that’s how.
We work hard to undo the damage caused by the curiosity suffocation that can occur, hopefully unintentionally.
“Off task” has become a euphemism for using your imagination at a time when it inconveniences an authority figure or the pack.
It’s a wonder many of these kids end up working alone.
I call BS on this pack mentality and encourage parents and teachers to work closely together to allow a gifted student to blow past her peers academically if it means she learns to bring the best version of herself into the world.
Our world needs more female leaders and when they show up at a young age the last thing you should do is hold them back.
That’s the kind of education she needs.
On a call with my female entrepreneur clients I referenced my inner drill sergeant. It’s a voice I use to kick myself in the ass when I get down on myself.
I shared that my inner drill sergeant would sometimes call me a pussy. My client Lisa immediately called me on it and rightfully so.
Even though I didn’t mean it as demeaning toward women, it still speaks to the larger cultural stereotype that women are weaker than men, you and I both know that to be complete bullshit.
Historically men may appear physically stronger but that isn’t the only form of strength. Just think about how your typical guy handles a cold.
He’s so focused on being a tough guy in life he doesn’t learn to experience and manage vulnerability, like being sick.
Lisa’s correction led to a discussion about women’s empowerment, how women can stand in their own power and create a conversation around how women can create a shift in the culture.
It ended with us declaring where and how we can take action to create the change that is wanted and needed.
Great way to start the day if you ask me.
What you just read is what I posted on Facebook. Then the comments started coming in and the conversation grew.
I was reminded of a quote attributed to Betty White regarding the sensitivity of testicles and ability of a vagina to take a pounding.
According to Snopes Betty White never said that. The quote actually originated with comedian Sheng Wang and here’s how she said it.
A friend said to me, “Hey you need to grow a pair. Grow a pair, Bro.” It’s when someone calls you weak, but they associate it with a lack of testicles. Which is weird, because testicles are the most sensitive things in the world. If you suddenly just grew a pair, you’d be a lot more vulnerable. If you want to be tough, you should lose a pair. If you want to be real tough, you should grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.
Then I received a comment from my Facebook friend Laura Mzhickteno,
Dude! I’m proud to call myself a pussy. Pussies are strong and magical as fuck. Actually, they are basically indestructible. Human beings literally come out of them and then they continue to function how they were intended. Not to mentions the insane amount of nerve endings, self-cleaning properties, and the ability to create so much fucking pleasure. You want to call me a pussy? I’ll say thank you. Because honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better compliment.
That shifted the conversation to the importance of reclaiming the word instead of vilifying it.
When you consider how much of our public discourse includes the fear of certain language, I think it misses this important point.
You can’t use that word because someone may be, “offended.”
I get how emotionally charged certain words are because of their historical context.
In this instance, my choice to use the word “pussy” openly led to further dialogue and changed my view of how the word could be used.
With that, I proudly declare myself a Pussy.
Having difficulty expressing yourself by talking can lead to insecurity because this world still places disproportionate value upon it.
Ever been moved by a poem or novel? My point exactly. Let’s get a little deeper in this episode.
Join the conversation in my FB Group at http://TheresMoreToYouThanADHD.com
Our parents instill layer upon layer of experience, prejudice, beliefs and habits upon us.
Some we adopt, others we resist or simply forget about.
ALL of this influences who we become, not always for the better.
You may learn the importance of hard work from your mother or father. You may also subconsciously learn perfectionism.
It’s very important for you to do the inner work. To take a close look at the mindset, worldview, software, whatever you want to call it, that drives everything you say and do.
It influences how you see the world, how you think it works, the beliefs you have about people for better or worse.
Separate the profound and practical from the poison.
Do this for your soul. Do this for those who rely on you.
This doesn’t mean what I make happen during that time and what Tony Robbins can make happen should be compared.
Besides not having access to his resources, I don’t have the same gifts or ambitions.
In 243 years the USA has had 45 Presidents. Not everyone gets a shot at that job.
There’s a lot of pressure to hustle, ship it, endlessly pursue greater levels of excellence. I’m actually a fan of the last one.
But the more I get to know the variety of people in this world the more I meet people who are cool playing tambourine instead of being the lead singer. Know what I mean?
I was listening to an interview with Casey Affleck (famous actor) and the interviewer was piling on the praise, all of which Casey shot down.
He went on to explain he thought all award shows are bogus and here’s why.
He said (paraphrasing), an actor isn’t by themselves on a movie set. There’s a director and the other actors who create a space that bring things out in you.
Outside of that context the talent may not be accessible. It’s a fascinating perspective.
Some may be genuinely content with a more simple role in the community which is a beautiful and essential contribution.
Still there are those who must endure extra layers of resistance due to race, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, learning or physical disabilities, etc.
When the gatekeepers to opportunities and resources actively discriminate (consciously or otherwise), the ones needing them most often don’t get them.
It’s easy for some to look down on others and believe what differentiates them is as simple as choices.
I call BS, it’s a matter of “access” to the resources, opportunities and people you need to help bring out the best in you.
Think of a jump rope with a person on either end.
You need to jump in or out of the rope’s 360° rotation without interfering with the rope.
You must keep hopping so the rope passes under your feet.
With ADHD you may have a hard time spotting the rhythm. If you do, slower processing speed often leaves you a few steps behind. Hence continuing on discussing a subject the group has moved on from.
This also explains a reason you and I interrupt so often. If you can’t time your entrance in exactly the right spot the rope will hit you and stop.
That’s what an interruption feels like. It disrupts the rhythm of the conversation and frustrates those involved.
I’ve learned to use simple hand gestures to alert others that I’d like to contribute. If they choose to let me in great, if not that’s fine too.
A tendency to interrupt stays with people and works against you. I’ve gotten better and continue to work on it.
I don’t want to take meds for my ADHD, it kills my creativity. I saw the opposite with my son Aidan (17). Who when finally able to sit and concentrate long enough produced beautiful works of art.
Here, I thought, is evidence that belief is incorrect.
Which brings us to this summer. At the suggestion of his Dr., we elected to take my son Connor (14) off his ADHD meds for the summer.
He was behind in both height and weight. We hoped without the appetite suppression of the ADHD meds he might eat better and catch up.
That is in fact what happened, he grew 2 1/4 inches and has a more solid frame.
That’s not all, we saw a side of Connor we hadn’t seen before.
His smile was brighter and more often, he had a razor sharp whit that seemed to come out of no where.
Then a few days ago I encouraged him to start taking his meds again in preparation for the start of the school year.
I kid you not, it was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
His sparkle died, his affect flattened, his attitude was more, “Meh” and the humor stopped.
My wife and I noticed this concern with one another.
Connor has always been shy so we attributed his being quiet and more withdrawn in general to his shyness. He has been on his meds for years and usually through the summer (his choice) so the quiet Connor is the one we knew.
I can’t recall how many times we laughed out loud this summer at something he said. Encouraging him to allow his peers to see this amazing side of him.
Only for him to resume his meds and essentially lock that part of himself away.
We had a talk with Connor and shared our observations, as well as our concerns. Connor said even though he understood our concerns, he thought the increased ability to focus at school was important.
On weekends he’d skip his meds so he could be more himself.
Who wins in this scenario?
The teachers get a quiet, studious kid who isn’t “disruptive”. A kid whose creativity and unique perspective on the world isn’t in that classroom.
Sure, Connor can pay better attention in class. He still forgets to write down his assignments and forgets instructions. A work in progress.
I’m afraid he’s learning to become an accomplished, people pleasing drone. Instead of a child filled with the possibilities granted to him by an imagination on hiatus during the school year.
It breaks my heart and I’m still struggling with it.
Every child is clearly different. Aidan thrives on the meds and they’re an essential tool in his toolbox.
For Connor it seems he’s paying a high price for focus, the price may be the opportunity to express himself fully.
There is another way, I’m sure of it and I will find it.
From one point of view it’s a list of criteria created by a group of Psychiatrists, in closed door meetings to describe the experience of people who are not part of those conversations.
These criteria are general and don’t appreciate individual nuance.
What a diagnosis does not account for is mindset, determination, resourcefulness, creativity and other amazing qualities.
Qualities that often defy the myopic view of what a person with that diagnosis can accomplish.
One of the best ways to put your creative mind to use is by finding the equivalent of emergency exits, trap doors, windows. Those unconventional ways of working around the challenges of your ADHD.
The conventional approach remains a desire to teach a student with ADHD how to find their way into the box their peers without ADHD are encouraged to fit into.
I’m not saying teachers do this but the system teachers are handcuffed into honoring certainly does.
I see small changes happening in some districts, spearheaded by true thought leaders. But the changes are excruciatingly slow.
Here’s one idea for dealing with this reality in the meantime.
Do your best to understand the inside the box rules that still drive much of the world.
This is important research and preparation for you.
Because the time will come when they want better results than they’ve been getting but can’t seem to think beyond the limits of the box they’ve cozied themselves into.
Then here you are. Someone who has committed herself to installing a bunch of escape doors and windows into the sides of the box.
So many windows and escape hatches that the walls of the box collapse.
Then watch the minds around you be blown by your creative and innovative thinking.
It’s ironic how a system so committed to honoring an antiquated box, will often come to folks like us when they finally realize they’re trapped by their own creation.
A diagnosis doesn’t need to be a declaration of permanent disability. When it can be a fire that forges the kind of creative thinking that moves society forward.