I’m really saying that about myself – I’m proud of myself. I think people too often say that sarcastically so that the intent of the phrase can be lost. So let me give you some context.
I have and always will be pretty smart. I won’t say I’m the smartest person on the planet but as far as learning goes I don’t really have to study out things too hard before I understand them. Except for math, and chemistry and anything else that requires me to use numbers like a gymnast.
But I sucked at school. I found the only good thing about school was my friends and books. I had the occasional great teacher, most of whom inspired me to want to try the profession myself, but overall, school was a box of boredom with locked doors and people patrolling the halls. And the occasional dance. And the over all theme of my schooling experience could be summed up in one sentence – “Mr. and Mrs. My-Mom-&-Dad, Whitney is a smart girl with lots of potential but she just doesn’t apply herself.”
So I spent the majority of my school years thinking I was stupid because the logic back in the 80s/90s was that if you were really smart, you’d be getting A’s and B’s on your report card. But I struggled to maintain the 2.5 GPA I graduated high school with. Thus started the internal scourging I would give myself through the years to come.
My ‘potential’ as an adult seemed pretty dim from the get-go. I quit college because college at the time felt like I was re-doing high school all over again (it actually is, by the way). Why pay someone a lot of money to spin my wheels when I can go straight to earning money right off the bat? But then I discovered that having a job is boring too. You’re expected to be there at a set time, stay at a desk or cubicle for eight hours straight, make other people happy (aka kiss their ass) and pull a paycheck every two weeks. And the cycle of getting a job, keeping it for a while, be late all the time because I’d get bored and wouldn’t want to go to work, almost get fired, find another job before they can fire me, then start working for new job, and rinse and repeat. And each time this cycle would play itself out I would think to myself, “You’re such an idiot. You can’t even hold down a stupid customer service job – a job you could do in your sleep, and you do most of the time.”
Then to add the hair shirt to all of it, I tried to pursue my passion of writing. But I didn’t have any tools on how to do it. I had raw talent, but that’s like saying I can draw a really great looking smiley face with a dollar store crayon – it might be a little impressive but it still leaves much to be desired – and that’s if I even finish it at all.
I did manage to secure a really great husband in the meantime. And we had three beautiful children. And when my oldest started school I did what all the other moms are supposed to do I went to parent teacher conferences. Now I knew my child was headstrong. She was bit bossy and demanding, but I had no idea that I’d be facing her first grade teacher and hearing that sickening sentence, “Mrs. Whitney, you’re daughter is an extremely bright and capable child but she just doesn’t apply herself.”
What the hell is going on here? Fast forward to the internets. Starting with some clues that my older sister was given about her children, I researched what was going on with my daughter. I needed to fix her because I couldn’t let her be like me. And then I came across information about her that started to ring really, really true for her as much as it did to me — lack of focus, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, hard time staying on task, impulsive.
It was a revelation of profound proportions. It was the explanation. It was the missing piece. It was also only the first step. For a long time, I only concentrated on what I could do to help my children. It was easier to justify helping them than try and take care of myself, particularly because EVERYBODY wants to help you with ADD/ADHD when the patient is a kid. No one really seems to know what to do with you when the patient is an adult. But I continued to research, continued to try new things to help with the fractured way my brain works. But it wasn’t enough.
Ok, so I think you’re at the point in the story where you’re wondering – so what? What’s the point of you telling me all of this? I’ll tell you. All these long years, after all the emotional pain and frustration, after the harsh, self-inflicted judgement of myself and my capabilities, the dam finally burst. I always had ideas. Things that would go in a journal or notebook, percolating in the back of my brain that would try to burst forth only to be savagely shoved back when I gave up a few days or weeks later.
The dam was college. Ironic that something that, to me, represented stagnation, boredom, impossibility, would be the one thing that would set free me.
I started college again in the spring of this year. And I found I enjoyed myself, for the most part. I was doing quite a bit of writing. The words were flowing. I was reading a lot and ideas were filling my head again. And then I decided I’d try this new writing platform my daughter found. The expectation for Wattpad was not that you had to upload an entire novel all at once. The expectation is you give your audience a little piece at a time. Like the Dickensian serials of old, people would wait patiently for you to release the next part of the story. And I liked that. I like that I could put out little pieces of my stories and get feedback. Little bits of pats on the back. And those little pieces became bigger pieces. I wanted to make sure that if I didn’t have a lot of time to write that I had something to release, so I would write more than I needed. That lead to more and more time writing. And before I knew it, my first book in it’s somewhat-rough draft was done.
Then NaNoWriMo came along. It was something I’d always wanted to do, but I had always given up before the end in past years. I’d get really gung ho for the first week or so and the realize the amount of work it was taking and I’d quit. Now I was doing it. I even started a whole week late. I’m still not quite caught up but I will be tomorrow. As of this writing, its Nov. 15 – the halfway point. I’ve never been this far. But the difference between now and in past years is I believe I can do it. I am doing it. My second book is getting written. That boggles my mind. Seriously.
I am freaking proud of myself. For once. And that is a truly awesome experience to have. To know that you are doing something you always wanted to do and not making excuses, not being afraid, knowing that no matter what anyone else says to me, or whatever happens to my writing in the future I will always have this — I finished it.
P.S. Part 19 of Sweetwater is set to be released tomorrow, Saturday, November 16, 2019!! Head on over to Wattpad to find out what Anna and Phillip do when Brody gets himself into some hot water. Don’t forget to follow my profile so you’ll always have the most up to date information on Part releases and special events! You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!