- I’m an eternal (annoying) optimist. My optimism helps me deal with my disabilities.
- Scientists NEED to be optimistic.
- If all of us LD and ADHD individuals had the optimism of scientists I think we would have the potential to perform at the best of our abilities!
- Celebrate your accomplishments by displaying them in way that you can see them whenever you need a boost of confidence! I framed my published papers in my home office.
- I have an empty frame on my wall next to my framed papers. I use empty frames as a metaphor of “my potential.” When I see an empty frame I envision myself framing the next paper I am working on.
- Find out what motivates you to think optimistically about your LD/ADHD and use it to OWN your LD/ADHD!
I’ve been told that I’m an eternal optimist. I’m that annoying guy that jumps up and down when I get excited. I’m not only getting excited over big stuff (like getting into grad school or getting engaged), I’m the guy that bounces when I see a furry animal on YouTube, I wake up so happy to seize the day that I pretty much always wake my fiancée up with ‘gravity squeezes’ or very intense spooning and I laugh all through work (which probably annoys my co-workers) because we are doing science and I LOVE science. My boss really knows this optimism well. Most of the time when I start an experiment I tell my boss, “I’m going to get this to work.” or “This experiment is going to help me graduate!” She regularly tells me, “I know,” even though the last 5 times I did similar experiments they didn’t work out so well. Sometimes it is hard to stay positive, but I made a choice a long time ago that being positive is better than being negative. I used to get really upset about not being able to read well and I would go through phases where I would hate myself for learning new things so slowly. I began to notice how crappy it is to feel so negative. It’s so draining. I started noticing ‘MAD’ people (a person that defaults to angry) more often and I realized that I didn’t want to live like that. So, suffice it to say: negativity sucks!
I truly believe that one requirement of a GOOD scientist is being an optimist. They don’t have to be stupidly positive like I am, but optimism pushes science forward. Science requires lots of funding, which means scientists write lots of grants. These grants are full of comments like, “this drug may decrease viral loads by 99%” and “a better understanding how protein X functions will lead to more precise treatments for cancer Y” and “my science will change the WORLD.” Okay, I made that last one up. The point that I’m trying to make is that you HAVE TO think your experiments will work when you write a grant and when you start working on them. Scientists are allowed to doubt what they are doing but they have a little voice in their head that says, “you can do this!” We usually know that the experiments in our grants won’t completely cure the world of all its woes (or even the specific problem we are investigating), but we NEED to believe that there is a greater purpose to our work. It’s probable that our experiments will increase our knowledge in a specific area and the more we know, the closer we will get to a cure or treatment.
Scientist optimism = LD/ADHD optimism
Correlating the positivity needed to be a good scientist with the positivity needed by us LD people to beat our disabilities will help make us all better. Imagine a world where people with LD and ADHD didn’t mourn their disabilities or avoid activities they ‘just can’t get.’ Imagine how wonderful it would be if LD and ADHD just meant, “learns differently” or “reads differently!” Changing our perception of LD and ADHD individuals needs to start with us. We need to know that we are great. We need to know that we can ‘beat/overcome/destroy/attack/face punch’ our disabilities. We need to start by setting and reaching lofty goals! We should take a page from the scientist’s manual and say, “I may not change the world, but I can do my part to be the best person I can be.” To keep my optimism high, I framed my two published papers and put them up in my home office. I frequently look at them as a constant reminder that success is not an easy thing to accomplish, but hard work and thinking positively can lead to fantastic outcomes. Celebrate your accomplishments!
One way I try to use optimism to be the best person I can be is by using empty frames. Empty frames are a combination of optimism and determination. They basically represent my potential. I use empty frames as a representation of what I want out of life or what I want to become. To me, an empty frame represents where I want to be and I use them to push me to be better. Frames should be filled with accomplishments, so when I see an empty frame I think to myself, “I need to fill that with something AWESOME!” I have an ‘empty’ frame on my wall next to my framed papers. I use this as a key motivator to push me to get another paper published. Soon, I hope to fill that empty frame with a new paper only to replace the blank space on my wall with a new empty frame.
I believe optimism is key to overcoming LD and ADHD. The more positively you see yourself in the mirror and the world around you, the better equipped you will be to face the challenge of having a disability!