October 10, 2023

Clara sat by the window breathing in the cool air, feeling its caress on her skin. She could feel that fall was just around the corner and couldn’t decide if she was ready to trade-in gelatos an sandals for pumpkin spice lattes and cozy wool sweaters.

As she watched the leaves flutter in the wind, still clinging to their branches, she couldn’t help but feel that their eventual fall echoed her own sinking mood and dwindling motivation.

She sighed and rolled her eyes at her own thoughts, wrapping her sweater around herself more tightly. “Isn’t it just like me to turn this beautiful cozy day into a metaphor for my sour mood?” 

To Clara, this was a clear sign that she was wallowing in self-pity. And it wasn’t the comfortable kind that made a day in pajamas watching old Gilmore Girls reruns feel delightfully wistful.

No, this was different. This was a seed of bitterness and self-pity, and just like jealousy, it doesn’t look good on anyone. “No way” thought Clara. “I want no part of it.” 

In an effort to escape this spiral of self-pity, she began to break down her feelings, a method she had turned to countless times before. Her thoughts included things like:

  • I feel like a loser.
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • I’m broken beyond repair.
  • If others can overcome this, why can’t I?

Then it hit her! “If other people can, why can’t I?” That was the stinger. 

Just the other day, she’d read about Greta Gerwig, the genius behind the Barbie movie. THAT is why she was feeling so darn inadequate.

Greta Gerwig has ADHD. And based on a few articles Clara came across so does Justin Timberlake, JFK, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and a slew of others who have achieved incredible success. 

Then, there are people she knows too. ADHD friends and acquaintances with good jobs and full lives. 

And that was the kicker.

These are things that Clara Whitemore – unknown artist, failed entrepreneur, terrible housekeeper – did not have.  

The Comparison Trap

Do you ever compare yourself to others with ADHD and end up feeling crummy and unmotivated? 

I do.

When I compare myself to others, I usually do it because I want to feel inspired – thinking if they can, surely I can too, right?

Instead, a lot of the time, I just want to crawl into a dark hole and give up.

Why is that? 

I’ve wrestled with understanding why success stories often leave me feeling this way, even long before I was diagnosed with ADHD. Do I have a definitive answer or a 3-step guide to overcoming it? No, sorry. But I can share some insight.

More Than A Cliché

It’s more than just saying “everyone is unique.” Comparisons miss the real experiences, talents, and challenges that make us and others truly different.

Think of it like this: A pumpkin spice latte and gelato are both delicious treats, but they’re inherently different. The latte is warm, comforting, and feels like wrapping up in a cozy blanket during fall. Gelato, on the other hand, is cool, refreshing, and evokes memories of sun-soaked summer days.

Would you expect a cup of gelato to give you the same feeling as a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte? And do you think a latte from a cozy small-town coffee shop would taste the same as one from Starbucks?

Probably not.

So, why do we put such unrealistic expectations on ourselves?

Aside from all that, transforming into who we think we should be isn’t just a flip of a switch. It requires meticulous planning, organization, numerous steps, and lots (like TONS) of time!

Plus, let’s not forget the things out of reach—even if our ADHD brains managed to navigate the many steps over a decade, or more.

It’s no wonder these comparisons can make us feel exhausted, unmotivated, and feeling sorry for ourselves.

After all, a gelato, no matter how much it’s tweaked or adjusted, will never truly become a pumpkin spice latte. It doesn’t matter how long or hard it tries!

A Better Way To Find Motivation and Inspiration

There was a time when celebrity stories were my only benchmark.

But let’s be real. Life isn’t like those one-sided stories we see in articles or on social media.

That changed when I dove into fiction.

In books, I see characters with real challenges – they chase dreams, celebrate small wins, and handle setbacks.

What’s great about fiction? It nudges me to appreciate my story – like savoring a unique gelato flavor without wishing it was, say, a pumpkin spice latte.

With ADHD, this hits differently. Connecting with characters in a book helps me recognize my potential. Plus, their successes seem genuine and achievable. And when something feels possible, especially for someone with ADHD, it’s such a powerful motivational push.

Summary: Embracing Our Own Journey

At the end of the day, motivation comes from within. When we compare ourselves to others without knowing their whole story, it can make us doubt ourselves and push us off track.

Whether you have ADHD or not, finding motivation is about knowing ourselves, leaning into what we’re good at, and celebrating what makes us different. And, if you can’t, it might be time to get some help, like talking to someone or even considering medication or a medication change.

And remember, you’re the protagonist of your own narrative. Let that drive your motivation, and know it’s perfectly okay to seek help when needed.

If this article struck a chord with you and you're wondering what comes next, here are a few straightforward steps to consider.

Set a reminder to come back to this post regularly. 

Here's the thing: our brains, while fabulous, can sometimes forget details over time.  PLUS revisiting these insights might give you a fresh perspective. 

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The group is a good place to dive into topics like this. Plus, some of the things I talk about here influence how we keep things ADHD-friendly in the Body Doubling sessions and groups.

Dear Readers,

I've read ADHD advice that just didn't fit, and it stung. So, let me be clear: Don't see my words as absolute; take what fits and leave the rest. Everyone's ADHD journey is unique, and what works for one may not for another. Finding what works best for you is part of the adventure. Embrace it with an open heart. And please, share your wisdom and experiences in the comments to help others.

Hey there, I'm Susanna Miles, a writer and advocate who understands the ups and downs of life's twists and turns. As a creative entrepreneur with ADHD, I'm here to share stories, insights, and practical tips from my journey.

Join me in embracing the beauty of imperfections, navigating distractions, and finding the balance between creativity and business. Let's celebrate our unique paths together.

Stay curious,
Susanna Miles

P.S. Explore my tailored journals, planners, and body doubling sessions to support your journey.

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