ADHD Confessions: The Whirlwind of Hobby-Hopping
As an ADHD individual, I don’t have just one passion. I have like a dozen. Deep-rooted ones, that is. In between those I’ve had dozens of shallow-rooted quick-withering passions that I was super stoked about for a few days or so before getting bored and deciding that I shouldn’t have invested nearly $100 into making it a full-time gig. (As I’ve grown to know myself better, I’ve learned not to impulse-buy “investments” without observing some real commitment on my part. It’s better to borrow or make-do where you can. We can talk more about impulse-shopping in another post.)
I have read and heard in countless articles and podcasts that ADHD people make great entrepreneurs, because we are passionate, free-thinkers who can commit to self-chosen projects 120%. And this is true. However, personally, I have yet to commit to one thing long enough to make a full gig out of it.
It’s normal to have seasons of different passions, I think. It’s normal to dedicate yourself to something for a time and then lose interest or grow out of it or just lose yourself to something else. My cycle, though, is more like a cyclone. And it rotates at cyclone speeds, sometimes causing cyclone-like devastation to the other areas of my life. Because when I talk about “hobby hopping” it’s more like “lifestyle hopping”. I am so passionate and committed to whatever I’m “into” for the moment, I tend to neglect other things that are just as important to me.
In other words, I’m kind of an unbalanced nutcase.
Allow me to elaborate…
The Core Elements of my Cyclone
Blogging is a passion of mine that comes and goes every few weeks. So when I started this blog last month, I was super committed and really determined to stick to a schedule and get it rolling. Then two weeks later, I was rolling my eyes at the thought of logging on and working out all the SEO stuff, writing content, mapping links, researching… ugh! Then the following week, I sat down at my computer power-writing for an entire afternoon and pumped out five well-written posts. And I didn’t even have coffee. Then today, I was back to eye-rolling.
One week I am ALL about becoming a full-time artist. I love to paint. And my little side-business has really taken off since I started it 6 weeks ago. I’ve already had 5 custom orders, bringing my total painting sales to 17 since 2015. Nice! But then five days go by and I don’t get an order and I lose interest. Suddenly those online art classes seem like a waste of time and buying practice canvas is a waste of money.
Some weeks all I want to do is travel. Oh boy, do I want to travel! (Of course, traveling takes more money than I have and it’s easier with less children than I have, and it’s better if you have less full-time jobs than my husband has, but you know… it could work…) And when I think about traveling, I start thinking about languages and how much I’d love to know all of the languages in the world. I start focusing heavily on my Spanish lessons and teaching my kids Spanish and reading Spanish literature and watching Spanish TV. (All kids’ stuff, by the way. I’m only a beginner-intermediate level and I enjoy it better anyway.)
Then there’s the rare weeks where I say to myself “To hell with all of that! I want to be a housewife rockstar!” And then I’m all about meal planning and cooking, deep cleaning the house (my husband loves these weeks…), planning family activities, interior design, gardening, and clipping coupons like there will never be another coupon printed, EVER! I get really serious about my bullet journal and I start getting the itch to horde office supplies.
(These phases almost always end with a bang rather than a fizzle, because I find homemaking to be the single most challenging thing on the planet for this ADHD mama. I usually get frustrated and/or depressed and give up on it quite suddenly.)
And sometimes, I want to focus solely on becoming a super-spiritual being. My heart aches to know the Lord better and to be a bible expert and to drown in the knowledge of ancient history. And I want to go to church more and get connected to groups that will enhance my knowledge and understanding and better my life as a whole. And in these brief seasons, I am overwhelmed with compassion for the homeless and those who wander.
These are all wonderful passions. These are all great things to pursue. Becoming an expert in any one of these things would be admirable. To become an expert and have true success in any one area, don’t you need to be committed, though? Dedicated? Consistent?
My all-or-nothing personality is only tempered by the basic needs of my family. Outside of that, I’m like the Tasmanian Devil, roaming freely from focus to focus, wrecking everything in between. I’m all-in on one thing, and then I’m all-out. Then I’m all-in on something new for a bit, and then I’m all-out.
But to choose a single thing and stay with it is like… severing my soul. To me, it’s almost like having multiple children. If you could only be with one, you’d always miss the other. And if you were with the other, you’d miss the first. And like children, I can sometimes have them all in the same space at the same time, but I can’t give them all my full attention. So, like children, I have to rotate between them. I simply can’t give all of myself to any single one.
It is a problem… Isn’t it?
On the one hand, no. I mean, at least I know where home-base is. (Like, I know if I have the sudden desire to run a marathon, or build furniture with my bare hands, it’s probably not going to cycle back around; it’s more like random debris in my cyclone.) And I can be fairly knowledgeable in multiple subjects, so that’s not a mark against me.
But every time I abandon, say, my blog for art, doesn’t that hurt my progress? Consistent publishing is important for building a following! I’ve read it a thousand times. And every time I trade Spanish for, I don’t know… Meal planning, I backslide a little. I forget vocabulary words, my tongue forgets how to roll my r’s and I go back to sounding like a complete gringa.
I guess I just worry that I’m sabotaging myself by not being neurotypical.
I move too fast. When I temporarily abandon one thing for weeks on end, I appear flaky and uncommitted. Additionally, I learn at a slower pace than my neurotypical counterpart who spends all her free time on a single area. I learn a lot in quick bursts, but with long “sedentary” periods in between when I’m off doing something else.
I’m also harder to nail down. Like, you might not know exactly what to get me for Christmas, because I don’t know which will be my “thing” when it comes around. It could be one of my main five things, or I could be interested in sewing my own clothes (which happens from time to time), or becoming a photographer…
I sometimes read about the rich and famous in any of my desired “fields of study” and I get discouraged more than inspired. Because I think I know it’ll never be me. But perhaps when I’m much older and I’ve spent 25 years studying all of the things I love, then I’ll be an expert (but not a master) in all five, whereas a neurotypical person might only ever be an expert in one.
In the meantime, I’ll deal with it. I can’t help being the way that I am and I’m not ready to give it up. After all, I’ve based my whole philosophy – for this blog, and for my life – on embracing the way I’m wired and running with it. But I gotta admit that it sometimes feels like I’m running wild and in the wrong direction.
And that’s my ADHD confession for the week. I feel like a flakey crazy person with too many interests and not enough time… or hands… or brain power…
What about you? Are you one of the lucky ADHDers with one or two passions and all the hyperfocus time in the world? Or are you like me with too many passions and not enough hyperfocus free-time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Just for fun – here’s a mostly all-inclusive list of my CORE hobbies and passions:
Ancient Cultures (anthropology, archaeology, history)
Languages/Linguistics (evolution of language is particularly fascinating)
Psychology from a Christian Worldview
Homesteading/Living off the grid
Marriage and Family
Clothing design and construction
Make-Up and Beauty
Home Design (every 8 months I’ll design a new dream home. Makes my husband crazy. I don’t know… to either of those things…)
Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books