I’ve always felt like the limiting factor of one’s potential does not stem from their own abilities, but from the potential others see in them. I was faced with many challenges growing up. My ADHD, writing disability and motor skills issues made me a handful in the classroom, and one who fell outside of the standard educational mold. My parents were apprehensive about medication. They didn’t want me to be medicated unnecessarily. They always imbued in me the importance of overcoming obstacles as opposed to relying on a crutch.
ADHD was never once my prison. It was my freedom and salvation. It wasn’t my weakness. It provided me with opportunities.
I was about 13 years old before I had the motor skills to ride a bike, or the patience to learn how to tie my shoes. Many mundane and simple tasks eluded me, like reading an analog clock, but I tended to pick up skills for things which I deemed important. I taught myself to read before entering grade school. Not to be prepared, but so that I could properly play video games. When I was curious about something I would research it. I taught myself complex philosophical principles and learned about ancient cultures and their histories, but found myself unable to grasp simple social concepts. Fortunately for me, in Grade 4 I was admitted into the gifted program, and this single moment in myself changed everything dramatically. I would not be anywhere near the man I am today without having been put into that program. But that doesn’t mean I was immune from issues. Being medicated from a young age, I would have problems socially, academically, in my behaviour, and sometimes in the forms of ticks or negative reactions from new medications. I’ve always had struggles, but through these fires I forged myself into the person I wanted to be. I never let it slow me down, only enhance my abilities.
In high school and university I found myself drawn to volunteering in areas which would allow me to help others with learning and social disabilities. Where others see oddities, I see potential. Not everyone can function in the “normal” capacities we set, but many people, when given the right attention and support can find their way, and not only manage to overcome their
issues, but to be unique and to excel beyond what anyone thought was possible. For me it is not about becoming “normal”, it is about using what isn’t “normal” and making it set you apart through success rather than letting it slow you down.
I had a hard time making friends in school. Outside of my family and people I was close with, I always found it difficult to make eye contact with people. Not because I was scared but because my eyes wander. Even to this day I have to put in effort to make sure I look at people when I talk to them. I’m very excitable and I tend to speak my mind, and for a long period of my life I was told I lack a filter. I never would think before I spoke or acted. I always moved on instinct. And that made many things difficult; making friends, succeeding in school, keeping myself out of trouble. But through all this, I don’t feel like I’ve had a necessarily difficult life. And I attribute that to my family and friends. When you grow up with a support network, nothing is too difficult. I know who I am, I know my limitations, my strengths and my weaknesses. Growing up in another time, with another family, in another place, I don’t think I would have succeeded as I have. I was lucky. All I want is to ensure that people no longer have to be lucky, I want it to be standard for everyone to get the help they need to live out rich and fulfilling lives.