The High Esteem Podcast

Stop trying to be good at what you suck at! (& my ADHD story)

March 18, 2021 Sarah Erwin: High Esteem Coaching Season 1 Episode 7
The High Esteem Podcast
Stop trying to be good at what you suck at! (& my ADHD story)
Show Notes Transcript

Do you spend a hell of a lot of time trying to be good at the things you suck at?

Trust me, I’ve been there. I lived in that space for most of my life- trying to be the person who could organize papers, the person who was detail oriented, the person who knew where everything is. 

I tried to fake it, and I felt inadequate and ashamed every day. Frankly, it didn’t get me very far: it just spiralled me further and further into shame, and left me drifting further and further from where I was meant to be.

But here’s the thing: why did it HAVE to be that way? Why did I HAVE TO FIT that box? 

Why couldn't I be somewhere where my own skills and gifts- my creativity, my ideas, my intuition, my coaching skills, my ability to counsel, my approachability, my patience, my compassion, my ability to 'read the room', my ability to make people feel safe, my passion for advocacy, my writing skills-- were valued?

And guess what? When I started to actually lean into what my strengths are, when I dropped the struggle and stopped trying to be who I wasn’t… to get good at what I was bad at… my life took off. My career took off. And finally, I felt happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than I ever have. 

And I want to help you get there too. Listen to this episode to learn how I did it, and how you can get there too!


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Unknown Speaker  0:33  
Hi, everyone, I got stuck in the biggest perfectionistic whole here trying to get to recording this week's podcast because it's something that's so important to me. And I really didn't want to get that message lost when I was speaking to you guys today. So it is so much planning and writing and scripting. And then I realized that, hey, I'm not a scripted person. That's not how my brain works. That's not how I roll in terms of creativity and putting my true strings forward. Even though I love writing, I really felt like it was going to start the podcast. So I am back going to be raw and real and conversational with you guys while I talk about this topic, which is very vulnerable, but very important to me. And I am hoping and I believe it will be very helpful for some of you. Also fun piece of news, I am no longer recording out of my closet, I have a podcast studio.

Unknown Speaker  1:25  
It's not a studio. So I bought like a little foam box thing. So I'm actually able to sit up and speak with out like terrible posture. And I don't have to lean into my closet, which is essentially built into the wall. And it wasn't the most comfortable. So for all of those of you who have been holding back on podcasting, I really want to drive home, that you don't have to start in some perfect way you can upgrade as you go. And yeah, let me know what you think of this audio because it feels fancy to me. And it is a phone box, and maybe a year from now, I will have proper equipment. But here we are, and I am excited about it. So I want to talk today about our strengths, and about owning who we are strengths and weaknesses in an authentic way that will allow us to excel at what we're good at and stop spending so much damn time, energy and shame on the things that we suck at. I want to start by inviting you all to think about this one, do you spend a hell of a lot of energy, trying to get good at the things that you suck at? It's okay, if you do because I think most of us do. I think that we're given a very specific idea of what we should be in this world. And I think we're really limited in the traits that we celebrate and the things that jobs asked for. And honestly, I think that the world is worse off for it. And I think that that stops us from looking into some of those things that we may just consider our passion, or something we do for fun or a personality, which really are the things that we need to access in order to start impressing people and in order to shine. And in order to feel good about ourselves and start moving in the right direction. And trust me when I say that I have been there, I lived in that space for most of my life feeling like I wasn't living up to who I should be. And I wasn't reaching my potential. And I wasn't because I was completely stifling the good things about myself in order to try and get good at the things that I sucked at. And yes, it's not like I never have to use those skills, right? The ones that aren't my strengths, and I'm a little bit weaker at. But if we develop systems around that, and if we learn where we can delegate and where we can ask for help and how to articulate our needs and our weaknesses in a way that is actually in your company's benefit, right? Hey, I need a little bit of assistance with this. But then all the while promoting what I am excellent at. Because I do believe that if we really throw all of our energy into those things we're really good at if we really show what the strengths are and work on honing them and developing them more and more and more. And if we match that with being in the right place, being in the right job, then people won't be able to take their eyes off of you, then those little weaknesses. They don't matter as much guys. So why why do we spend so much time and energy spiraling into shame as we try over and over and over to fake it as we try over and over and over to to

Unknown Speaker  5:00  
I try and look like that person that we think they want us to look like. And maybe they do want you to be that way. But maybe when they see who you really are, when those strengths shine through, it won't matter as much that you're not as great at those things, you will actually be able to access your talent in a way that you can't, when you're stifling different skills, because I think that when we stifle, we numb bigger part of ourselves, we get into this mind space, where we're thinking, Oh, I'm faking it over thinking I'm not good enough. And then our confidence isn't there in the things that we are good at. And then we forget to put, you know, that extra bit of effort forward, even if we have that energy, because we're already feeling inadequate, so we're not showing up in the same way, when we feel like we have to perform, we're just not. So I want you guys to Stop faking it. And that is my challenge this week. Let's all Stop faking it. And I want to start by telling you how I did this. So I'm going to tell you a really deep personal story for me about how I grew up feeling different and ashamed of certain things about myself. How I actually learned later on that there was a reason for those things, around the same time that I was coming to terms with the fact that I just didn't belong in those roles that I thought differently. And my brain worked differently. And I was starting to question why Why does it have to be this way? I feel awful about myself all the time. Why does it have to be that way. And when I finally owned who I am, when I finally came to terms with things, and got myself into a job where my real skills could shine, then those things actually didn't matter as much. And my life started to take off, and my career started to take off in ways that I previously wouldn't have thought it could have. So I talked a little bit to you guys about 2015, and my Fuck this shit moment, the one that really turned things around for me. And really what that came down to was, I realized that my strengths weren't allowed to excel in the environment I was working in.

Unknown Speaker  7:18  
And I realized that there was so much more to me that wasn't being recognized, and that all parts of myself that the people in my life who loved me and who I did belong with, recognize those weren't being recognized in those jobs. And I was really questioning a lot of where I belong, career wise, I had also really been struggling to make my way in my career in an authentic way. And I was overcome with a ton of imposter syndrome and confidence issues. And a lot of that came down to getting into a workplace and feeling like I had to prove myself. And those came in very specific ways. So with organization with tidiness, with the way that the ways that my ideas came out and across with the way I focused or the ways that I got distracted with detail in data entry, and you know, there are little mistakes that I was making in those workplaces, when it was something to do with detail, or anything to do with anything visual. And every job I took, I was trying so hard to get everything perfect, because I didn't want them to find out that my brain didn't quite work that way. I had trouble with attention to detail. You know, I miss tiny little things. But I'm very whole concept of very creative and how lots of big ideas. But I didn't even get there because I was so busy trying to prove that I could do it for things that were really hard for me. And this is something that had been going on for my entire life, right. And I remember actually on my essays, when I was a kid, I you know, I'd worked really hard to get good grades. And I get a lot of Sarah's a great student, but makes a lot of careless mistakes. And I remember and it still feels like a gut punch to think of those words. Because a first of all, we didn't have spellcheck. So Hey, it's me from the future teachers, we didn't actually need that skill as much as you thought.

Unknown Speaker  9:17  
But when we were writing out papers by hand at the time,

Unknown Speaker  9:22  
when I was in elementary school, and those careless mistakes, like I haven't gone over the Edit so many times. And in math in high school, you know, we'd have these tests that were, say three questions, but the answer in the first question was a basis for the next question. So if I got something wrong in the first question, then the whole test would be wrong. And I would fail some of those tests because I would get one digit wrong or miss one detail somewhere in there and I was just struggling so much, because while I knew all the processes if I miss a detail, it was all gone and the tests weren't written for my kind of brain. In university I was study so much more than everyone

Unknown Speaker  10:00  
I knew and I would pull, you know, a whole week of 12 hour study sessions right before the exam while reviewing before that. And if it was something to do with memorization, and pulling out and reciting studies, if it relied on my working memory and sort of rote memorization, I would have studied all those days for a 70 on the dot, whereas an English where it was creativity, and there was room for concepts. And it was more, I guess, whole concept creativity oriented, I was getting A's and but I wanted to go into psychology and I wanted to be a social worker, which I actually ended up being later on, I actually didn't know I want to be a social worker. But I think I would have gotten there sooner if I had taken that route. But schools weren't quite my style of learning, and I overcompensated for it by over studying, and you know, drinking a lot of caffeine. And feeling like I was hiding something all the time because I had to overperform so much to get where I was. And now, for me, fast forward to 2015 I was diagnosed about six months after that job after seeking out therapy. And my therapist referred me to a physician who spent had some specialties in ADHD, I got diagnosed with ADHD. And my whole life made sense. My whole life made sense. I used to lose everything, I couldn't keep track of things, I couldn't organize papers the same way as other people. People said, I took the long way rather than the easy way. And if I had known that, I would have been able to know my brain better, and find things that worked. And I don't want to dwell there, because I'm not saying this isn't about owning, you know, learning disabilities or working around those. It's just about owning the traits that you have. And really learning where you can let those Excel, I figured out that I could do all the things I wanted to do, I just had to learn the way that I needed to study. So I stopped pretending and I stopped trying to do it in a way that other people would and studying in the way other people would study and to find my own systems. And when I did go back to school for social work for my master's degree, I did so much better. Because when I, you know, a I did end up taking a medication for ADHD. And that's a personal choice. It's not something that, you know, everyone has to do in my situation. But it really in my world did help wonders. I also figured out how I could study and you know, at that point where I wasn't able to read anymore, I would find videos by that same author, and I would engross myself in the full concept of information. And I would then read when I was more engaged in paying attention, and I work things around my life and develop systems for my studying that I wouldn't have done before. And again, this isn't about diagnosis. This is just about the fact that those things I was ashamed of. They were just traits. They were they were traits that I had to deal with. They were they were things that they were factors of my brain that I needed to take into consideration in order to start excelling. But guess what people with ADHD are really great at creativity, and hyper focusing on things that they love. people with ADHD are way more likely apparently six times more likely to be entrepreneurs. So hello there. I was so good at engaging other people. I am incredibly good at reading a room which is apparently also another trait that a lot of people with ADHD succeed at. I was an excellent writer. I because of how much harder it was for me to study and memorize certain key things and not learn it was memorization and a certain way of being tested. So don't fall into that loop where you think that people like me or with ADHD are not as smart. That is a complete myth. And that's why I'm so transparent here because I want to break that down. I don't want anyone living with a stigma I did. I don't want you living with a stigma of whatever traits your brain has that feel less than ideal. Okay? My brain just worked differently than the school system was designed to work. And it also worked differently than what was promoted in a lot of jobs. But there were jobs out there for me, okay, social work was perfect coaching is perfect, but because I had to learn how my brain was wired and because I had to understand what I was good at and what I wasn't in what I needed to understand things. I became an excellent coach because I'm good at breaking things down in ways that makes sense to people that help them deal with that overwhelm that I experienced so often trying to understand things in the way I was told to and that anxiety that comes

Unknown Speaker  15:00  
With the overwhelm, and just the differences in different people's brains, I am great at that. Because I know what it's like to be on the other side of that where people didn't quite get the way I was looking at things. But because of that, I'm so good at looking at the different ways that people see things and figuring that out so that I can work with them. And so, coaching, and counseling and social work, were amazing, right. And sure, I needed to develop a few more systems and still do in my life, to carry out certain aspects of certain jobs. But honestly, with medication, and with knowing my brain, and with the systems, I'm continuously learning to develop, I am thriving. And since I own that, and went back to school for what I loved, and I stopped pretending that I was this person who had the perfect desk, and I also stopped sort of working from home where I can actually manage my attention a lot better. I catered my life to who I am, I need a quieter space to work, and I'm working a job from home. And that's great. Right? Not everyone can do that. Exactly. I guess a pandemic helps with that a bit. But there are other ways to do it too. Right? I know that I because of my attention, I can't have music on. So I'll put headphones on and put on sounds that helped me focus. So that might be just like, nice, you know, background nature sounds or maybe music without lyrics that will help me focus. I might have, you know what, I avoid papers as a huge thing. And I have electronic systems for everything. Okay. And if I had been able to do that in every job, or if I had actually had the courage to say and the wherewithal to know, you know, what if I had actually recognized that this wasn't a problem in me, and just a trait of how my brain worked, I could have said, Hey, I don't do very well with papers, I'm going to use this electronic system. Let me know if you need me to walk you through how that works for me, whatever that is, if your boss needs to know, but I felt the need to do everything the way other people were doing it. So it didn't work. Right. Now everything is electronic. For me, I use electronic task reminder systems, I keep everything in online documents. I have reminders for everything. And it works amazingly. And but I do not print papers, I print papers when I need to print the papers. But I it's not a thing that I do. I don't use postcards either. Right. And that took me a while to learn. Here's the thing. I had to come to terms with that question in my head that was playing, but I was not validating for so many years. Why couldn't I be somewhere where my own skills and gifts, my creativity, my ideas, my intuition, my coaching skills, my ability to counsel, my approachability, my patience, my compassion, my ability to read the room, my ability to make people feel safe. My passion, my advocacy, my writing skills? Were those were the valuable things were those were so noticed that that's what people love me for. And that's what people want to do, therefore, who decided that this attention to meticulous detail and the organizing of papers? And who decided that that was a definition of smart in our world of competent of successful? Why did it have to be that way? Did it have to be that way? And who decided that? I had to do it their way? Couldn't I find something that worked for me a system that worked with my own mind? Are you hearing that? Are you thinking that are you feeling that yourself? You might be and that's okay, and that's something to sit on. Because it's totally valid if you want to find a way to do things your way?

Unknown Speaker  18:48  
And who decided that? It's okay to shame people for not meeting a certain skill set, or that I shouldn't have to that I should have to feel bad that you should have to feel bad because your brain fits into a different box that works outside of the box that you're taught is the way things should be. What if there's a box for you? What if there's a world for you, a universe for you? That isn't a fucking box? Okay, there is there really is. And guess what, like I said, when I started to lean into those strengths, and drop the struggle and start and stop being who I wasn't.

Unknown Speaker  19:25  
I started to just take off and then I felt happier and healthier and more fulfilled and started to achieve success like I hadn't before. And you can too. So I want you guys you out of box thinkers to start to think about what those strengths are. What are the things that you've been told you're good at? What are those things you've noticed you're good at. And I want you to think outside of the box as much as possible. So not just in the workplace in your life. And then you can start to work on how to bring those into the right jobs for you.

Unknown Speaker  20:00  
How to articulate those to your employers in a way that will really sell who you are and those skills, whether they're soft skills or hard skills, right? Can you learn to delegate in the workplace and say, Okay, this isn't my forte, but here's what I'm really great at. Could we also start to say, hey, I need a little bit of help with a, b, and c, so that I can prioritize D, where I can deliver this awesome thing for you? Would that be so bad? I know if I were a boss, if I heard that my star employee who I hired for the skills that they are best at, wanted a little bit of help, and something that they're a little bit weaker at, say, the organization of papers.

Unknown Speaker  20:41  
So that they can put more energy into the things that will actually benefit us as an organization, because what benefits us from our employees is the skills that they actually have in brain. If someone said that to me, I'd be like, that makes sense. Yeah, cool. We shouldn't be faulted for saying who we are for asking for what we need. And again, that is that self advocacy piece, but it comes with being clear on who we are, who we're not, and where our strengths are. And to stop trying to be so good at those things we suck at. and feeding that shame over and over and over, when we don't measure up to an ideal that shouldn't be there in the fucking first place. I'm sorry for swearing, but it shouldn't be there in the fucking first place. There is no right skill to have no right place to be, you get to decide that, okay? If you need help, I want you to reach out to me because this is literally what I do. Here is the why I will help you with the How to go on to www dot high esteem coaching calm. If you would like to look into booking a call with me, I would love to speak to you. If not let me know what you thought of this podcast in the reviews. Give me a rating if you can on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast app that you use, so that you can help this message get out to more people who are stunting and stifling who they are for someone else's version of success. Okay, I want to help you and I want you to help other people figure out how they can do that by first letting them themselves just be who they are, and stop trying to get good at what they suck at. And I wanted to end it a little bit differently this week with a poem that I found from that time in 2015, when I was really struggling, and when I started to say hey, fuck this shit, I have other things to bring to the table. And this isn't it. This isn't where I'm going to impress you. So if I couldn't get any more vulnerable with you guys, here it goes. I will not impress you with my ability to manage your database. My skills are not contained within an office size suitcase. My database is not made of numbers, words or values.

Unknown Speaker  22:57  
Ask me what your system does next. And I just might read you that same text. But tell me your hearts breaking. And you'll hear my heart sing. Come to me crying, and I'll take you under my wing. My database feels more at home with you there and is happy for you to call it home.

Unknown Speaker  23:17  
I will not impress you with logical patterns and tidy ways. This girl is a mess. She can't be contained. But come to me with your secrets. Make me your outlet. And I'll make sure your heart set. feeling inadequate. I'll make sure you know that you're worthy and whole and that you will be okay. But whatever me as I stand here today, and as you see, there was a career for me in coaching and in my day job as counseling. To be clear, high esteem coaching is a coaching business. So what I do for you and for my clients is coaching around confidence for people who are outside of the box thinker so that you can own your strengths and your potential. And on the note of the end of that poem. I was okay because I did just that and you will be too if you get there and you will, you will if you want to. So let's Own your strengths today guys. Okay, everyone that is it for today. But if you liked this episode, don't forget to hit subscribe and leave me a review because of course it really helps me and my podcasts out. For more tips, training and tools help you hold yourself in high esteem. Follow me on my Instagram page at your underscore high underscore esteem underscore and join the your high esteem Facebook group through the link in the show notes if you would like to do this work with your community together in my group. To learn more about me and my private coaching, head over to www dot high esteem and browse my programs and free tools there. Thanks so much for tuning in. And I'm so excited to see you all in the next episode. Bye everyone.

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