Caught Between Stupid and Clever!

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The common misconception with ADHD is that we are stupid, but that’s only because we speak first and ask questions later.

When I was younger, I hated mainstream education, for obvious reasons. Sitting down at a desk for long periods of time to learn about things I simply didn’t care about was near enough impossible. I had too much passion for life cursing through my veins, random but great ideas I wanted to explore, not to mention I was only a young child.
I was an average student in school, not particularly clever in terms of the subjects study, but not considered the lower end of the scale either. Sadly, mainstream education is based on the premise that if you are gifted, the teacher has an easier job and if you are the lower end of the scale then it is evident you need more support. If you are merely average, you coast along, unseen.


Unfortunately, with ADHD you tend to say the first thing that comes into your head, you can’t help it, there are that many thoughts in there, some of them are bound to get out. Sadly, it’s not the fantastic ideas that ever make it out, they require more detailed thought. This means that outside of the teachers assessing you, most people thing that you are kind of stupid. I remember years later when I started working in a nursery, my boss told me that one of the parents referred to me as “the ditsy blonde one” Though at the time I laughed it off, I’ll admit; it hurt. I still don’t know if it’s why years later I decided to dye my hair brown and never looked back.

“It was one of the worse days of my life”

ADHD Gril

The truth is I’d always thought I was stupid, I just never gave much thought before that point, how I came across to others. I mean if school didn’t come naturally to me and I didn’t particularly care for it, I couldn’t have been clever. This was all but confirmed when I bombed my GCSEs (National English exams). It was one of the worse days of my life, I never expected to do amazing, but I thought I might have passed at least more than one subject. I’ll never forget what my mum said to me that day “Life isn’t decided by the choices you make, but how you deal with the consequences of those choices.”


It was only once I started working in a supportive nursery environment that I began to think about options for the future. I mean I still didn’t think I was clever, but I knew that I was good at working with children. Like writing, nobody ever had to teach me how to work with children, it was pure instinct. I thought, maybe if I had an instinct for it, then maybe I could learn more about it. I then applied to university and was delighted when I got accepted.
Even at university I just coasted along, I got really bad marks in my first year, even my parents asked me if I would drop out. Even now I don’t know why I didn’t, except that for the first-time education wasn’t something I hated. It was something that I enjoyed; I could do it myself in my own way. Then half way through my second year, I had a realisation. If I felt I was worth it enough to do university, then I should give myself the very best chance of doing it right. So, I applied for support and a few months later I got a support tutor for one hour and a week and some other forms of support.

“Strange as it may seem, I am actually regarded as pretty clever these days.”

ADHD Girl


From that point on, my grades shot up and so did my confidence. All my life I had believed I was stupid, but here I was at university getting the highest grades possible. It suddenly started to dawn on me, I had never been stupid!! I had decided I was stupid, based on how I had done at school and based on the fact that other people had thought I was stupid.


Ever since I achieved a first-class honours degree, nobody has ever accused me of being stupid. Strange as it may seem, I am actually regarded as pretty clever these days. I mean I still get the odd look when I explain that I am a qualified education lecturer, but I just smile and think well that’s their issue.
It’s bizarre going from feeling you are stupid to knowing you are at least in some ways clever, but then I guess I still have a lot more to prove to myself. I have nothing to prove to anybody else, they can think what they want.

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