Redefining my ADD as a superpower, not a weakness

Opinion by EllieCusick

Strong sense of humor.” “Lights up the room when she walks in.” “Gets along well with classmates.” After every parent teacher conference I call my parents asking them to recite exactly what my teachers have told them. According to my parents, my teachers often begin with compliments on my personality, typically followed by a concern with my grades.

Although I felt special hearing that I am a “joy to have in the classroom,” a part of me yearned to be regarded as an impressive student. For years, I sat behind my desk comparing my in-class effort to the people surrounding me. While other students wrote detailed notes during class, I was drawing smiley faces on each of my fingertips.

Although I attempted to listen intently during class, it only took minutes until I was thinking about how to say the word peculiar without sounding British, or whatever random thought was circulating my mind. It wasn’t until I sat in Dr. McGill’s class sophomore year learning about the Scarlet Letter, that I was truly engaged in class.

Nearing the end of sophomore year, I was recommended for AP English and Literature. After confirming with Dr. McGill that the course was the right it for me, I entered my car with tears streaming down my face. From the moment I knew what an AP class was, I perceived it as an unattainable dream.

I believed for so long that I was never motivated enough to battle my diagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD) and do well in school. That wasn’t true at all. In reality, most people with ADD or ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are labeled as “lazy” or “unmotivated.” But I wasn’t unmotivated, I merely lacked the attention span to focus on tasks that were not intriguing.

If I had not developed a true interest in English and Literature, I probably would’ve failed taking an AP course. I succeeded because I dedicated most my nights to English homework, because I liked doing the work. After discovering an intrigue in school, I became more encouraged to participate more in class, because I might find another subject of interest.

Taking an AP course in itself did not help me succeed. I succeeded because I achieved something I once believed my ADD prevented me from doing. My dad always told me I would do something great, but I believed ADD prevented me from greatness. I now stand firm in my belief that my ADD is precisely what will bring me to greatness.

It is my inability to withstand telling the person next to me whatever thought that enters my mind that allows me to form quick connections with people. It is my hyperfixation on subjects I love that will allow me to excel in whatever future workforce I may choose. It is my overactive mind that allows me to be creative. It is my inability to stay still that will keep me active in my future endeavors. It was never my ADD holding me back, but the toxic mindset that ADD is a weakness rather than a greatness.

One thought on “Redefining my ADD as a superpower, not a weakness

  1. I really appreciate you writing this story and sharing it with everyone! I loved it and it made me and many other girls feel recognized.


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