So many jobs, so little time

So truthfully, my track record with jobs has been, well, somewhat scattered. It’s almost embarrassing. I’ve often wondered why I’ve had so much trouble staying in one job and in one place for very long. I can’t even count the number of places I’ve lived in the last 20 years — four since moving to Montana about six years ago (for example).

In a recent conversation, the reality of my checkered past became too abundantly clear to me.

Sure, I can blame it on having ADHD in a world of supervisors (and you know who you are) who often don’t appreciate a wildly creative mind or know how to usefully focus that energy. But a recent article in ADDitude magazine caught my attention.

In the article, “8 Most ADHD-Friendly Jobs,” adult ADHD experts “suggest good jobs for your unique skill set — creativity, enthusiasm, energy and problem-solving skills,” to name a few. I was curious so I started going through the list.

1) Education

Teacher: My undergraduate degree is in elementary education. I truly love kids as long as they are someone else’s.

So I initially thought teaching would satisfy the joy I felt when I saw a student finally get a concept she’d been struggling with. I loved the creative aspect of teaching, but lacked neither the motivation to deal with the politics of the education system nor the patience to contend with unruly kids.

Nixed that idea.

Day Care Worker: Tried that in Maine for about three months. What was I thinking? Worked in the 2-year-old room. Was sick a lot. Didn’t get paid much. Need I say more?

Practicing high-angle rescue techniques with my former Wilderness Rescue Team members in Maine.

Practicing high-angle rescue techniques with my former Wilderness Rescue Team members in Maine.

2) Medical field

Emergency Medical Responder: Yup, did that too. Before moving to Montana, I was a licensed EMT and certified Wilderness EMT. I volunteered with a local fire department and two different search and rescue teams in Maine. I also taught wilderness medicine to adults (teaching adults was much more my speed).

And I used my enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits to also teach skiing and other basic outdoor skills. But of course, making a full-time living out of that was challenging.

3) The Arts

Where to begin? I was a dancer, singer and actress first. But when people began recognizing me on the streets of Baltimore, I retreated backstage.

I designed and created costumes, sets and exhibits; painted and sculpted scenery; hung and ran lights; constructed sets, costumes, props, furniture and parade floats; set up large and small musical and theatrical productions; and toured with several shows in a variety of roles. In other words, just about anything one could do in the entertainment field, I did. And I did it in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Maine, across Canada and all up and down the east coast. And I won’t brag here, but let’s just say, you’re likely familiar with many of the places I worked and people I worked with.

The entertainment industry is fickle though and after many years in the field, I could no longer bear freelancing and living in New York. So I all but gave up that career upon moving to Maine.

4) Food

Food Service Worker or Chef: Never had either of these jobs, but as I’ve written about in a previous blog entry, the kitchen is one of my go-to Zen places where time disappears and my focus becomes nearly indestructible.

I’ve considered a culinary career, but I enjoy food too much to make it my job. I’ll settle for superhero home cook, thank you very much.

5) Journalism

Journalist: This is where I had the most success.

Journalism presents something new almost every day so ADDer’s like myself rarely get bored. That’s not to say I didn’t occasionally want to jump out of my seat and run around the room during an overly long government meeting or an attorney’s entirely too verbose opening statement. But of course, that would not have sat well with presiding officials.

Like many ADDers, I’m inherently curious, social and love to learn. So the tasks of interviewing people, doing research or experiencing new things were, and still are, my favorite aspects of the job. I was able to use my creative energy when writing or shooting photos or video.

But it was often a challenge to write some of the longer stories.

Sitting still too long at a computer makes me antsy. I don’t always get up to move to refocus, though I’m sure that would help. Instead I often find myself distractedly surfing the web or reading other articles that aren’t pertinent to the task at hand. Notice the present tense — this is still a challenge.

But working for daily newspapers provided me with hard-and-fast deadlines — something I typically adhered to. In fact, I need deadlines in order to be productive.

And reporting was truly the first job I truly felt I was having an impact and that was very gratifying. I still like to consider myself a voice for the voiceless, which is why I suppose I’m keeping this blog …

Copy Editor: Though I have never officially been a copy editor, I really enjoy the tasks involved in playing with words, making copy more clear, concise and grammatically correct and mentoring other writers as my editors mentored me throughout the years. It is something I am seeking to do more of, as a matter of fact.

6) Small Business Owner/Entrepreneur

Like many with this so-called disorder, I always have more ideas than time or focus to do anything with most of them. I have stacks of notebooks filled with random thoughts and project ideas and an undated to-do list that gets longer even though I occasionally get to cross off an item. However, things have improved in that realm for me and I am finding ways to keep track of and act on more of them. Though I don’t have any interest in being a business owner, as freelancer, that’s exactly what I am.

And though I am never happier than when I am free to schedule my own days, it does take a certain amount of dedication, discipline and commitment. I  keep track of my projects, hours, fees, etc. on self-designed spreadsheets and my calendar and task list are critical to keeping me on track.

Working in journalism was a good compromise despite being at the mercy of scheduled meetings, etc. Much of my schedule was set by me.

Now working from home (or wherever I decide to take my laptop), I have even more freedom and mobility and I am much happier because the only person I have to answer to is myself. I still have deadlines, but they aren’t daily and I can schedule my work around bike rides, lunches with friends or errands. I feel incredibly fortunate to make a living this way.

Other jobs on ADDitude’s list were beautician/hairstylist and high-tech/software developer. Out of the eight job categories, I have worked in more than half of them and have at least an affinity to most of the others.

Does it count that I cut SO’s (significant other’s) hair?

Next up: Change and fear …