My late ADHD diagnosis gave me the freedom to stop explaining myself

For one woman, knowing “why” was a confidence-booster — and a game-changer.

Having to explain what ADHD is like to people who’ve known me for most of my life has probably been one of the most challenging parts of my late ADHD diagnosis.

It was one thing to struggle for over 20 years. But it was another to revisit the past. All the decisions I made just to get by — like placing my goals and plans on hold simply because “things just weren’t working out this time.” 

What that really meant was that the goal was too hard for me to achieve and I felt discouraged. I’d hear about the things other kids in the family had already accomplished. And to be honest, it just made me feel worse.

My path is different

I’m a big people-pleaser. I wish that everyone could fully understand me and my ADHD. But the reality is not everyone will — especially if they grew up believing that ADHD is an excuse for being lazy or unreliable.

If I were to tell those people that I have ADHD, they wouldn’t believe me or accept my experience as reality. They would say things like “Everyone forgets sometimes.” Or “Who doesn’t put things off?” This isn’t helpful or encouraging. Comments like that only leave me feeling invalidated.

The truth is, I forget things and I put things off. I succeed in plenty of things, but despite my best efforts, I also fall short. 

I haven’t reached some life goals yet because I spent a good chunk of my past struggling to understand why I was the way that I was. People compared me to others who didn’t face the same hurdles I did. Life was difficult — until I was finally diagnosed.

My ADHD diagnosis was a game-changer. It gave me the confidence I needed to make decisions for me and not for the approval of others. It gave me the freedom to no longer explain — specifically to people who don’t understand — why my path is different.

I don’t have to explain my ADHD or why I’m different. I just am. And I am exactly where I need to be. My dreams will all come together in time, and that’s OK.

Getting an ADHD diagnosis can be life-changing. Learn more about what it takes to get diagnosed as an adult.


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