Jobs for space aliens
October 8, 2014 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I am wondering if there are any particular jobs or career fields out there that are more forgiving of the weaknesses of the inattentive ADHDer. Or magical hacks to make a normal office job not suck like an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.

I know that ADHD manifests differently from person to person, but here's what it looks like for me:

Difficulties expressing myself verbally.
Getting distracted by everything (helloooo carpet patterns!)
Starting out gung-ho about things but losing steam and patience quickly.
Making assumptions about things that seem reasonable at the time, but turn out to be wrong, wrong, wrong.
Being the opposite of a detail-oriented person. Paradoxically, I am so non-detail-oriented that years of trying to compensate for that have brought me to the point where I will frequently pore endlessly over details while missing larger, much more important issues.
Thanks to all of the above, having no self-confidence.

Despite working very hard over several decades to manage my neurological issues (therapy, meds, more therapy, more meds), I have never had a job where I wasn't waiting for a piano to fall on my head. Today at work, I realized with an all-too-familiar sense of dawning horror that I have made my third huge error in as many months, due to a combination of the above difficulties.

Which is why I am now posting this question. I've done a lot of reading on careers for ADHDers, and most of the suggestions are things that I would be quite awful at. Sales? Business owner? Firefighter??? LOL. It seems like these careers would be great for someone with a ton of wacky kinetic energy who thrives on interacting with people. Which is so not me.

So to finally get around to my question: are you an inattentive ADHDer who has found your niche? Even if you're not the world's greatest at your job, have you found a place that you can go to earn a living and not come home most days feeling like an incompetent ass who is about to get fired?

Thank you.
posted by whistle pig to Work & Money (6 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
As someone with an extremely ADD-like personality, I do best with jobs where I am presented with something to do and then do it immediately, and never think about it afterwards. I did terrible at sales because it was all about follow-up.

Personal examples are tier 1 tech support or phone support, or working in a NOC handling alerts.

I also do well at programming, but that's largely for different reason -- it lets me just hyperfocus on a task for long periods, which is something I've always been good at.

Hard jobs for me have been ones where I have multiple tasks with multiple deliverables, all going on simultaneously, because that's where the disorganization, procrastination and despair sets in.
posted by empath at 2:56 PM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Some old AskMes address this like this one here, or just browse through the tag.

Also - I am super hesitant to suggest this, since you didn't bring it up in the question, but the troubles you describe are why many people take various medications or use other therapy methods like an "ADD coach" to control their ADHD (though obviously there are cases where this is not a good solution). Is that an option you've considered?
posted by Wretch729 at 3:03 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was in a production design department for many years, overnights for some of those years, and the folks I worked with were very much as you described. It's fast-paced, but you're given new things for very short amounts of time, and the interaction with people isn't necessarily all that involved (asking for requirements for various charts, etc.). Something like that might suit you.
posted by xingcat at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2014

Response by poster: "Hard jobs for me have been ones where I have multiple tasks with multiple deliverables, all going on simultaneously, because that's where the disorganization, procrastination and despair sets in."

This hits the nail on the head. I guess I should have phrased my questions as, what jobs are the opposite of this?
posted by whistle pig at 3:33 PM on October 8, 2014

Cook at a busy restaurant. ER doctor, except for all that schooling...
posted by Good Brain at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2014

Oh, and jobs like Firefighter, (or cop) which might seem to involve a lot of action, generally don't.
posted by Good Brain at 7:38 PM on October 8, 2014

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