The problem is not me.
The problem is not being me.
The problem is you think I am wrong.
The problem is you don’t get me.
The problem is you tell me I am wrong when I am most myself.
The problem is you have made your way of being in the world the end all and be all of being in the world for EVERYONE.
But everyone is different.
What works for you might not work for me.
The problem is not my mistakes.
The problem is not that I am learning.
The problem is that what you are teaching me is I will always be wrong, even when I feel like I am right.
The problem is that what you are teaching me with you responses is to avoid mistakes at all costs.
And since I make a lot of mistakes when I am most myself…
(because I am always jumping into new exiting stuff I don’t know how to do yet, and taking on interesting complex problems very few people- maybe no-one?- know how to solve)
…you are teaching me to avoid being me.
The problem is I end up wanting to be perfectly prepared for tackling chaos, which is impossible, or wanting to just give up trying and go to bed, since trying is futile. Mistakes are inevitable.
So you are teaching me a masters in “Disabling perfectionism or the futility of Action 101”
With an elective of: “Trust no one to get what you are truly like, or be interested in finding out”.
What a curriculum for a kid, right !?
What if you could say:
“Here is where your way of doing things and my way of doing things bump up against each other, and someone gets hurt.
How do we solve that problem? Can you help?
Does you beautiful, creative brain know any possible solutions we can try?
I don’t mind if it doesn’t work out. We’ll never get the answer by doing nothing.
If you are scared of trying for real, how about a thought experiment.
What if I do….? What if you say….? What do you think would happen?
I bet together we can find out what works….”
What if you could ask:
“Why do you do the things you do, the way you do them? Can you explain?”
What if you could show curiosity about the happy, strange, interesting chaos we could create and navigate together? Excitement about all the mistakes we could make together, and everything we will learn as a result.
Belief in the potential of all the hard problems we can help the world to untangle a tiny bit further. Hope around everything we could achieve with our collaboration.
What if, when I feel I am so right, but you see an angle I don’t and you have trouble seeing mine, you propose an exploration to see the world through each other eyes?
What if you could say:
“Here is what I need, what I long for, what makes me happy…. What about you? Will you share? Will you trust me? How do we make this work? I trust you…. and it’s ok if you make a mistake.”
Now there’s an education….
This was a piece I wrote to examine a lot of internalized shame and self-criticism, about two years after receiving a very late ADHD diagnosis. I come back to it sometimes to remind me of my intentions of improving my inner dialogue when things are hard.