Can I create a thoughtful and well designed self-guided research project with little-to-no effort?
Can I write a paper on an assigned topic in under 24 hours, and get at least a "B"?
Can I create works of criticism, analyzing that work already done by others?
Yes. I am a very good student.
Yet, these tasks come at a level of effortlessness that often leave me wondering, what would I be if I could pay attention to one person/place/thing for more than 7 minutes? What if I was motivated to expend any kind of effort? At all?
I often joke around, telling people I have ADD. By this time most of my friends have taken me aside to have a candid conversation about seeking help, possibly seeking medication, for what is an obvious disorder. Somebody's thinking about doing it right now. By the end of the day, some new person will have sent me an email or a comment or a message on MySpace that's like, look babe, I love you, but you need to learn how to focus. And let me just tell all of those well meaning friends and acquaintances: I KNOW.
By all accounts, if I read the description, I think "Yeah, obviously, I have ADD." And yet.
I have no problem reading an 800 page book from cover to cover stopping only to pee, or doing the Sunday Crossword, or cataloging, or working on jigsaw puzzles, or with systematically putting my photos in exact chronological order. I can spend HOURS focusing on things in which I have a genuine interest.
And once I decided to be good at school, I was really, REALLY good at it. I'll admit that if I'm taking a class pass/fail, I never get better than the required C+; to do more would be to overextend myself. If I'm being graded on a curve, I only do well enough to ensure that I have the highest grade in the class. As a general rule, I avoid classes that I find to be a bit more challenging. I only took college level calculus under extreme duress and urgings from my bossy mother, and even then since it was graded on a curve (should any MATH class ever be graded on a curve? NO!), I stopped going after I got the highest grade on the midterm--there was no way I could get less than a B, why try to learn what they were trying to teach? It wasn't worth it.
So I'm not sure it's an attention problem I have. Rather, I have diagnosed myself with a disturbing lack of drive, tempered only by my intensely competitive nature. My motivation extends as far as doing better than everyone else. That means if I'm in a classroom full of morons, I am only capable of pushing myself far enough to outperform all of them. And this is my BIGGEST personality flaw.
It's worse than being selfish, or cocky, or insensitive. At times I can be all of these things, and they all negatively affect my relationships with other people. But this affects my relationship with mySELF. That sucks.
My second and related problem is that I cannot stand being judged by others. Actually, I think they're more than related; they're pretty much the same problem in two parts. To try my hardest and fail would set me up for judgment of the worst kind. As long as I'm not really trying, I don't know how good I COULD be. If I put 100% into something, and didn't get it, I would have to face that failure. As it is, there's no knowing what my potential is, and that feeling of invincibility is intoxicating.
Anyways, I am actually going somewhere with this.
I like to think I'm a good storyteller, and maybe even a good writer, and more than a few people have told me that they would love to see me write fiction or seriously apply myself to writing autobiographically. And there's a reason that I never do. To embark on that journey would would mean that I lay myself out raw for the inspection and criticism of others. Research and critical writing don't involve any sweat from me; reading what I've deduced about the state of digital technology does not open myself up for public flaying. But fiction and autobiography do, because they mean writing things that come entirely out of my own head, which opens my head up for judgment. I'm afraid of finding out that what's going on up there is actually a bunch of garbage.
This blog is autobiographical, yes, but it comes in short doses, and I'm not tied to any sort of central plot line or theme. I started this site as a sort of my experiment in "Can I hold the interest of others?". And what I've learned is that I can't hold my own interest for long enough to find out. So that sucks.