A few years ago (don’t ask me exactly when), I started watching Star Trek as my “goodnight” TV series. I chose it because it was entertaining enough but not so fascinating that I would stay up watching episode after episode. Well, that worked out pretty well for TOS and the early seasons of TNG, and completely broke down with DS9 (do watch, if you haven’t yet). But still, by that time, I’d gotten better at “just saying no” to “just another episode”. I’m currently making my way through Voyager and am hugely enjoying the developing character of Seven of Nine.
Hence the title for this blog post: “I will adapt”, which I have heard her say many times these last days.
What will I adapt to?
For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a hold on my future, instead of being swept this way and that by the whims of life. Two major life changes explain this:
- ADHD diagnosis and treatment – seriously, this is like finally getting admin rights to the operating system my life
- a stable (employed) job for the foreseeable future – something I haven’t had in a very long time, between self-employment, short-term “this’ll do for the time being” positions, and unemployment.
I’ll probably get more into this in a future post, but one of the effects of ADHD for me is that I was caught in a “permanent present”, slave to immediate gratification and impulses. I definitely harnessed this way of functioning to make the most of it. I built a 10+ year freelance career out of it, a huge network, knowledge, expertise and skills in all sorts of fields, and more. I have been (am) an expert at seizing the opportunities that present themselves. Having a long-term objective and doing things to reach it was, however, pretty much impossible. Short-term planning, yes. Project management, yes – because I have to “project manage” pretty much everything I want to do. So my career went where the winds took me, and my personal life and ambitions lacked a sense of direction – though I always did know what I found interesting and what I didn’t.
This means that now, concretely, I am in a situation where not only do I have a pretty clear vision of what available time I have “for myself”, but making plans for these moments is a lot less daunting. I have 5 weeks of holidays this year: I’ve put them down in the calendar, and thinking about what I want to do/where I want to go for each of them does not fill me with dread. This kind of exercise used to.
I have week-ends, too, and the ability to make plans for them. This week-end I’m at the chalet. Next week-end I’ve saved a day for a hike. I write these things down in my calendar and I follow through, with way less effort than it used to take.
That is the positive change I’m adapting to. Being able to make plans. Even for next year! I’ve been wanting to go to Thailand for a long time, and now, between the job stability and my new-found ability to project myself in future activities, I can say things like “hmm, in 2024 I’m going to use two of my vacation weeks to go to Thailand”. For example.
The more difficult changes I’m adapting to is how “little” time I have outside of work. One of the aspects of my hyperactivity is that I am never short of ideas, projects, people to see or new things to discover. Previously, I had more available time, but my ability to actually use that time for things I wanted was impaired. Now, I am able to be much more productive with the time I have, but… there are a few buts.
First, I’m working four days a week, and work does tire me (surprise). So, I need to rest (another surprise). I have evening activities (judo, singing) 3-4 days a week. Does that already sound like a lot? I’m just getting started…
Basically, my “new life” is very clearly confronting me to the fact that I have to make choices and that I cannot do everything I would like to do. This is life, it isn’t news, of course, but for me, in my “old life”, this wasn’t so much of an issue. In a weird way, because I was pretty much always stuck taking what was in front of me, I didn’t have a clear view of how unrealistic my aspirations were. I was always failing, but also always doing-or-trying-to-do, and on the forefront was a state of constant frustration and overwhelm that I wasn’t managing to do where I really wanted. I was, generally, quite unhappy.
So, now I can see clearly: if I’m doing judo and singing four nights a week, and managing a very busy support community on Facebook, and trying to go to the chalet and ski in winter, hike and take the boat out in summer, in addition to working 80%, managing my household and admin obligations, and getting the rest I need… that doesn’t leave much time for keeping up with people I’m not otherwise seeing through shared activities.
RIP my social life.
This really sucks. I’ve always had a huge social life, lots of friends, and already before, too many lovely people I want to keep in touch with on a regular basis. But now it’s worse on a whole different level. I already struggle to keep to seeing my family from time to time. But I have to accept that with the choices I’ve made and priorities I’ve set, I have less time to socialise and maintain friendships, less time to “hang out”, less time to dive into new exciting projects, less time for the unexpected.
I will adapt.
Life as an individual has its challenges, but despite all, it definitely beats being a Borg drone.
Also published on Medium.