Life | Education
5 Hard Lessons That I Learned From Formal Education With ADHD
Struggles taught me the fundamental lessons that education prepares you for what you yet not know & It is all right to accept that.
When did I realize that I was a student? The meaning behind the word, the relation that is distinct to one’s being. I do not know, perhaps it dawned on me when I was but a child. The essence of learning and education seemed but a test that never seemed to end.
Every year, it was the same. I would learn to read, to understand, or to memorize a distinct passage. Sometimes I’d fail and well sometimes I’d get beaten for my mistakes. The beatings were intense, sometimes would last only a few seconds but for me, those few seconds seemed like I was frozen in time.
I do remember those moments frozen, as the hands or the sticks were flying in the air — I trying my best to avoid the sudden claps as they would singe into my head, or moreover my soul. The burning feeling that would relatively cause this feeling of sheer despair, at times it seemed unbearable but then again I learned to stand firm in those hard times.
School life was formal, I could have easily guessed. From the uniform, I’d wear, that I wore perhaps for 18 long years. Following a code of conduct, or rather a discipline moral ethic that was taught to us as children was always upheld.
Though it taught me a great deal, some times even following those rules never meant the best for me. There are certain hardships for some students, who even though are wise sometimes get the hardest end of the stick smashed at their hineys. Sometimes people just are cruel and want others to stand-in line and receive what’s coming to them.
Mistakes, making them in such an environment can be really hazardous for someone who has ADHD. I remember having it for as long as I recall. But it perhaps became fully active around 4th or 5th grade. Perhaps it was a sign for certain things to come, existential doom.
I learned to read these signs, and thus was able to negate certain inconveniences that were aching to take a piece of me when I was growing up. It became evidently hard, to follow through in my educational journey. I kept falling and falling into this deep crevice, slowly stepping down one year at a time.
Until that day, when I realized I am the only one there — I wasn’t. There was someone alongside me, who was seeing and observing — someone who was learning along the way, this someone was my self. It is hard to describe a part of yourself laying dormant in your hardest days. I became familiar with this part of myself — it spoke to me.
It took my hand when I was all but ready to give up. I had accepted my fate, but this part of myself picked me up and took over. He promised that from now on, I wouldn’t feel bad from falling down or over the edge. This perspective perhaps was something that pushed me through hell, and thus slowly but gradually I started making my way through the obstacles that halted my progress and had separated me from my tribe.
This journey perhaps, or should I say this companion was my aide. In the hardest of moments, I was able to smile because of this perspective. Whether it was the harshest of pain or the hardest of suffering — I could smile as I knew there is a chance, I will make it beyond that pain. Thus I persevered, and persisted, and waited for days, weeks, months, years, and even a decade.
I was diagnosed with ADHD at a later stage in my life but I always knew. It was a moment of silence, a pause where it all made sense. That is where I always returned to whenever I felt this awful feeling of meaninglessness.
Education, in my life, has been not just inside the classroom — if I was honest, I never really learned anything besides how to tolerate unnecessary pain from the classroom. Though there was a time, that I did learn but that was a kinder, warmer time which I return to every day whenever I feel I need to reminisce.
It’s hard to remember the face of a happy child, who later on goes through so much suffering that remains hidden for the rest of his life. This is perhaps a test, he has to go through all his life. Whenever he asked for assistance, he was shunned, betrayed, and abused.
There are many things that one learns from formal education, as there is a good, bad, and a dark side to it. Here are perhaps 5 anecdotes I have learned over the years that have taught me the various aspects of lessons of life, and joy.
It is all right to fail.
When was the first time that you failed? I failed perhaps in the 5th grade, continuing to 7th grade, where I perhaps for the first time got a below 50% in my school. That time isn’t pretty, but to be fair in those days — I was battling other forms of despair that I didn’t get enough chance to improve upon my failures. Though I tried, and I tried to pass but whenever I would try it would become harder and harder to pass exams, assessments, and tests.
The result days, were harder as well — my father would lose his cool often. For a child perhaps that seems to be grimmer than ever. The anger of a parent is what every child fears from a young age. Especially when you fail in a prestigious school, where you are expected to excel with flying colors.
Expectations, got the best of me as I couldn’t keep up with them or my curriculum for that matter that was slowly escaping from my grasp. I was losing the fine thread, of repute in my classes. Becoming much closer to the humiliation that only a few to be named had received.
Those days seemed hard, but somehow I stopped caring. The transition into teenage-hood was perhaps the hardest of battles for me. I failed, in becoming an excellent student, or a smart teen as expected — sadly. Thus, I received what anyone would in that circumstance, humiliation, isolation, and perhaps hardship.
That year perhaps somehow was making me ready for what awaited before me, a path full of hardships. One perhaps even my peers are oblivious about and have been my whole life. I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems, and thus I sought to solve them on my own.
Failure seemed to be an opportunity rather than a curse — And thus I failed, barely making it to the pass list, to reach 8th grade. Education with my underlying symptoms and other life problems came in the way of succeeding in classrooms.
The cruelty of teachers became much more evident, and as time passed by — I stopped caring and learned to teach myself instead. I was given up on, as most children are that fail in our society, and thus I was isolated from my friends and my classmates.
It was me against the world, a failure — It is better to accept who you are than to shame yourself in hiding what you can’t control. I am a failure, thus I learned to pick myself up when I had nothing else to lose.
A bold statement — but I calculated my odds, by failing through. Failure is a blessing, in my life. Whenever it happens, I smile and embrace it. Because it reminds me of the time when no one ever did for me.
Instead of spreading fear, why don’t we spread joy when we fail? I welcome failure with open arms, it is that one thing that never lies to one’s self. It is the truth, that stands to challenge the odds — your odds.
So when you fail the next time, in whatever walk of life you may hail from — remember these words, It’s all right to fail because you will learn the ways that they never could who aim to shame you for it.
Practice, Preach and Teach.
It is all right to repeat.
Failure leads to many roads — depending on one’s perspectives. One such path is when you’re recommended to repeat the whole journey once more. It is definitely hard to think one would want to go through experience once more. But perhaps that is the hindsight we need to avoid.
Because although we are repeating a path or a course — it is a new journey. The outcomes of the past, won’t repeat unless you change your mind about that. There is a lot of disregards that are put on people who repeat.
They are shown disdain but moreover are told that they will never be successful. This happens when people can’t acknowledge that each individual walks a different path than each other. Even if you are studying in a class of 5 or 50, you are a different individual.
You have a different mindset, qualities, aspects, life choices — you are different. You have different problems, and it’s all right to have them. Acknowledge your struggles, your hardships — you can do it.
It will take time for you to learn unlike some people, who walk a straight path. If your path has detours often — treat them as opportunities. You are still walking a straight path even if you are left behind — you never were. They just can’t realize that you walk a different path than them.
This path of repeat is perhaps a newer thing altogether every time you repeat one aspect of your life choices. They are given a newer environment, and a newer place to grow — for you to grow, and learn anew.
I have perhaps repeated, many courses during my academic career. I think I have studied Algorithms, more times than anybody. One such reason was perhaps that I enjoyed the course. I didn’t want to move forwards because I wasn’t sure that I had learned enough.
There comes a time where you decide when you aren’t ready to move forwards — even if you pass a course. This feeling of naught remains deep down. Thus, I picked that course in many different programming languages to understand the crux of it all. I learned many different implementations until I was satisfied to move forwards — thus I did.
There are times, where you will fail a lot and you’d be given a choice to barely pass a course or to make preparations to do it until you pass with an understanding of the subject matter.
Take your time, and put failures into consideration — thus you will learn. Do not frown if you repeat, be happy if you do because there is so much for you waiting to mined that others before you couldn’t.
But you can put effort where they didn’t so that when you catch up to them, you can create opportunities to complete them where they couldn’t.
Every time you repeat something, there is an equal chance for you to learn something new. And the more you repeat, the more you become polished. Always take risks, even if you are left behind — it’s a fallacy that you are left behind.
Never think that you are perhaps given the freedom to do as you please when there is no one pushing you against your whim. Thus repeat if necessary, and if you feel doubtful then you must take a crack at it once more, just to be sure.
Doubts and failures are perhaps one of the many things that give you opportunities when carefully considered — thus repeat with your heart’s content, you have all the time in the world. Take your time.
It is all right to start fresh.
Starting fresh — it always seems like a great idea, don’t you think!?
The primary motivator that pushed me to start fresh in the first place, was the environment around me. I wanted to change it. I grew tired every day, I wanted to learn no holds barred without the stigma that’s being shoved down my throat every day.
The ideas, mindsets of people around me were choking me. My life had become somewhat of prison once again. I wanted to leave, I wanted a chance, an opportunity to just break free.
During my 3rd year of Engineering — these were my sentiments. I was treated very poorly, by others around me. My efforts were at times wasted — or that was what I stood to believe. Because there weren’t many things going my way, even if it was for a second — I had to accept that.
It was only during a co-ed project failure, did I realize that I need to stand up and leave. It was time, I got tired of the entire education I was pursuing. All the things that had transpired were building up this immense flood of suffocation — once released, I was swept away. Thus, in doing so I was able to leave my degree — even though others around me mocked my decision for leaving a “prestigious” school — there is no such thing as one.
It is a fallacy, a lie that they tell you. Never settle for such, it will always take many things from you without your approval. Take life into your own hands, and make your choices. It does become easier when you are the one who has the reigns.
I left — never looking back. A few months afterward, I picked up a major in software engineering and management science in a public university. Starting fresh, seemed like a charm. It was, I learned so much after that.
I was able to learn at my own pace, regardless of timelines and schedules. It needs to be that way. When an education system doesn’t factor in your mental illnesses and subjugates you towards daunting results that you never deserved in the first place — it becomes an endless supply of hardships, one that is never in your favor.
One of the many things that help you when you start fresh — is that you never lose what you spent before. It acts as a bridge that takes you to newer horizons. What we sow is never truly lost, it just becomes active when the time is right.
This is what or why they teach us so many things that are irrelevant to us in college — they will become relevant when the time comes. Starting fresh, taught me that — It eased my troubles and gave me a sigh of relief.
One of my old friends, who I met in my old engineering degree. He was an electrical engineering senior who also had left during his final years. His tale is perhaps a hard one — he got in a fight with a professor who sexually harassed his friend. He was rusticated and thus he had to leave his 4-year program.
He became one of my good friends, during that time. He told me once,
“when you leave on your own accord — that is when you truly become free to learn what you aim to aspire.”
These words stuck with me when I left — when he heard the news, he nodded as he knew I was making the right choice, I did.
After almost a decade — I have learned so much that I never could have if I never made that choice. The choice that set me free, the choice that made me who I am today. Start fresh when all else fails — you will succeed as long as you keep trying.
There are many roads to success, and learning — why take one road when you can take many!? You will find the right one when you do, in time.
It is all right to fall.
Remember falling and failing are two different things. You can fail, and start fresh with the newer lessons learned from the last experiment. Then there is when you fall, you get hurt, your ideals will get crushed, and then what?
Well, the idea is simple, you keep trying to stand back up and try to move. As they say brush off the pain. Yes, it is going to be excruciatingly painful. There will be days, where you would even question why you even wake up every day. When the cold hard fatigue would just break you, and you’d try mustering all your courage to just get ready for the day.
I have fallen thousands of times until I learned to finally adjust my balance in walking. Every other day as a child, I’d rip my jeans apart. My legs would get bruised and then I would just rub the dirt on my fresh wounds and start running.
Know where to fall, and when to fall — the only way to know for sure is to keep falling forward.
It’s easy, though an understatement I’d say my dear friend, it gets easier with time. Time heals all wounds and scars fade — there comes a time where they are just a memory of time well spent. Work towards that day, where you can sit on a fine cushion of such memories of hurt, pain, and joy that followed afterward.
Whether its life or education — sometimes both — you will be alright as long as you remember these three words.
Persist your pain.
Though how hard you fall, it totally depends on the speed you run. If you run fast, dive deep and graze the ground in the process. But in doing so, you will live the thrill of a lifetime. Even if it becomes a tough cookie to crack, I’ believe you can do it as long as you keep falling and getting back up again.
Perhaps take a break between, sometimes just looking up at the beautiful blue sky, or the dark calming night sky — you will definitely smile if you pay attention to the beyond from the ground, and it’s beautiful.
Savor these moments, it is these moments of falling that makes life just so much pleasure to live, And never let anybody tell you otherwise.
It is all right to cry.
I wish I had cried more, during the hard years but somehow my tears just stopped as I had adopted a mental toughness. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t cry, it’s just those tears were welling up inside to one day, burst open when the time came to finally let them out.
I used to envy those who could cry their heart out, I became envious in a way as I found it much harder to let it all out. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Even when I buried my loved ones, one after the other.
At one moment in time, I thought I had a heart of stone. Kind of a critical statement, you’d say. But it’s true — I felt perhaps I am not a human being If I can’t let my tears out. So much resilience that kept building up year after year had led to this.
I became this person who needed trauma after trauma to break out of his barriers. It took a lot, to even take a few tears out but they’d just go back in. In the past decade, I’d say I’d have cried perhaps 8 to 10 times. On 4 occasions, it was unbearable and I had snapped.
It was so daunting that I perhaps made my family worry beyond repair. It’s a horrible sight, there is perhaps a lot of wailing — it is excruciatingly depressing, as it takes out all the grief, the sorrow I have been keeping in my heart from the people I have lost over the years — and my own life that has been sacrificed over the years.
I have learned over the years to micromanage my emotions. I have been taught and told from a young age to be mentally strong — thus therein lies a dilemma where others can cry to ease their pain, but I can not.
Because If I cry, I’d be bothering everyone around me — an inconvenience. Thus I found a much better way of crying so that neither no one hears my screams nor the wails I’d do. To sum it up, I am consciously crying.
Isn’t that odd — but it’s true. I am aware of my emotions when they happen, and as you increase the bass on the stereo system — I would manage my crying as well so that I won’t be a bother to anyone.
But If I am honest, Isolate yourself from everyone and then perhaps let out all your screams, wails, and tears. It is in isolation do you finally find the essence of who you are. It lies in the silence, the peace that we desire — the one that breaks our sadness and sends the cool breeze of relief our way when we let it all out.
There is perhaps much to release, but time is of the essence and at times I too shall pass. My sadness and grief played an integral role in shaping my resolve to live. It should be the same perhaps for you as well. Use it, let it run its course and when the time comes — finally unleash your potential.
You’ll know if you keep an eye out, for certain signs. It is all right to cry. My advice, if you can cry now it will become a much better path when you’re able to let go. So let go of those tears, and It’s going to be all right.
Education regardless of formality is a process that remains across one’s entire lifetime. You’re a student of the school of life, thus there will be all kinds of times waiting for you — instead of letting it drown you right now, the best course of action is to plan ahead & accept whatever comes your way.
Look forward to each time that comes. Record them down and focus on executing each one with prowess when you get the chance.
That is perhaps the essence of what education is at its core — It prepares us for what we yet do not know.
Peace. Thank you so much for reading.