View Full Version : The Upside Of Ignorance and ADHD

08-27-14, 03:31 PM
When speaking of human ignorance, Einstein allegedly said, that “only two things in life were eternal, the universe and human ignorance, and on that note,” he said, “ I’m not so sure about the universe.”

When ignorance is spoken of there is a great deal of shame surrounding it within our society, so much so that we pretend to be otherwise and spend our time trying to prove otherwise by constantly speaking and never listening. I realized recently that it wasn't computerized devices that killed the art of what used to be conversation, we did that all our own, the devices are just there to entertain us in the absent void of conversation. Everyone's speaking and no one is listening these days because everyone knows everything and therefore what they talk about is usually very boring. What they usually talk about generally has to do with themself, money, the weather, or some sport where men play with their balls. The overall main reason for this death of interesting conversation is an unhealthy fear of our own ignorance. Many people lack a true honest education because they are afraid to uncover the realities of their own ignorance.

I’m not writing this to preach about the horrors of human ignorance, instead I’d like to offer you the possibility that ignorance, although maybe the most constant thing in the universe is also one of the most beautiful things life has to offer.

When I was a child I often wondered why education was forced upon people in an almost tyrannical way, “You MUST get an education, unless you wanna end up delivering pizzas for a living.” My dad used to tell me this all the time, the irony was that my dream job as a child happened to be to be a pizza delivery man. While others wanted to be astronauts, my 1st grade teacher and others were astonished by my seemingly lackluster ambition of being a pizza delivery man.

I didn’t want a normal job though, my dream as a child was to live in a motor home and deliver pizzas. Perhaps Ninja Turtles was partly to blame for my childhood dream, in that super heroes seemed to love pizza, but it was also my dislike for restrictions to my freedom. I saw very early on that the jobs the other kids wanted required large amounts of formal education, which even in first grade, had already been revealed to me to be nothing short of tyrannical brain washing. I didn’t want it.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Astronaut etc, it was that In the end I didn’t believe myself capable to sit still and “learn” for another 18 years or so. I didn’t really learn anything in school anyways; I mostly just stared at the clock blankly and drooled as I let my mind wander to anywhere else but there. My teacher probably thought I was partially retarded (and come to think of it, she probably thought my dream to be a pizza delivery man was aiming too high). I did the minimal amount that was required of me and spent the other parts of school distracting other children or trying to invent new forms of entertainment to make another minute pass by.

Because of this, my whole life has been marked by a perpetual sense and observation of my own ignorance. While other children engaged, my mind was off somewhere else. I slowly but surely became more and more ignorant to the world around me and blind to what others had already learned via imitation and social customs. My ignorance was always approached with surprise by both teachers and students and it became a source of shame when I was younger. I learned how to fake it after a while (although somewhat poorly). I didn’t pay attention to the teacher but as soon as it was time to do something, I watched and listened, very quickly assessing what was going on and what I needed to do. Sometimes I got it right, sometimes I got it wrong. It often led to me calling out “present” when my name was called. Perhaps I should have realized roll call isn't taken three hours after class starts. I was forced though to always figure things out for myself, whatever I learned was self taught or self learned.

The reason for that long exposition of my history with ADHD is that I see a lot of negatives given in regards to ADHD and education as well as being uneducated in general, but very little showing the positive side of ADHD or less formal education.

Furthermore, if there are positive traits stated, they are given without any real evidence or reason for their being. Almost like they're sympathetical anecdotes. By the way, hearing "You're not ADHD you're just bored/lazy," only furthers to make one feel like their ADHD is his or her own fault. Not only that but we often hear multiple contradictions in regards to ADHD, that some of us are borderline retarded, others are genius, and others are simply borderline retarded geniuses.

However I’d like to offer a theory as to what is really going here and why so much research on our iq's and expertise is varied, contradictory and sometimes baffling.

Based on my personal experience, I’ve come to realize that there is an upside to being ignorant. When we are ignorant, we tend to speak less about things we know we don’t know, we judge less, we are more open to new information, more flexible, and lack any sense of ritualistic/rigid thinking, but the key is that when an ADHD person is aware of their ignorance in a topic or subject, we do what others often can’t. We listen and absorb the information deeply rather than superficially. We don’t speak, we just listen. If you are ADHD and trying to further your education, i'd challenge you to instead of trying to focus on cramming information into your head in school, to instead ask yourself questions. Try to establish what you don't know rather then focus on claiming what you know like everyone else. Don't take notes, or use flash cards, only write questions about the subject, you'll find your interest will go up ten fold as you focus on discovering what you don't know rather then painfully reciting what it is you already know. Just to have your hidden ignorance revealed when the test comes.

When I realized how ignorant I was in most things of life, I became a scientist. I observed and observed, always wondering why people did one thing or another thing. I listened when people spoke and gathered information over time. I often have felt like an alien my entire life, I watch and listen and observe, never really drawing conclusions, only theories. Because of this, I developed a fearlessness to my own ignorance. I've seen this is many other ADHD individuals, and it is this cavalier fearlessness and humility that sets ADHD individuals apart from the neurotypicals.

While others are focused on speaking, we are so intently focused and earnestly trying to listen, and whatever we catch from our efforts, we absorb fully and implicitly.

However, in the end I still I have ADHD and years later, I still often find myself staring at the clock and drooling in class.

It’s a paradox, if I haven’t seen the relevance in what I’m being taught, I tend to tune it out and think of things that feel more relevant to me. Perhaps seemingly Important ponderings, such as... “What the hell is Easter anyways?…Perhaps God exists but he’s far too terrified or ashamed of his creation to reveal himself to a creation that ritualistically celebrates what they believe to be his death and zombie like resurrection. Then he booked it, pulling what can only be described as a Matrix maneuver and flew away into the clouds, but not before hiding eggs and candy for our children to find...and Then we remind ourselves of his sacrifice but not before we pay money to take photos of our children on the laps of pedophiles in bunny suits. If I were God, i'd avoid the human race too...”

(That was yesterday's pondering)

Over the years I’ve found that too few of the answers are actually given, and too many people are accustomed to the answers being given to them or they believe they have them and are happy to tell you there opinion. But I find that the only people who are actually listening and thinking about those answers, that truly value knowledge, are the ones whom are aware of their ignorance and lack of answers. Plainly, the ones who are ADHD.

So, when you feel like cursing God for your ADHD, or you feel incredibly stupid, one day just try to remember that it only makes you a better listener, a deeper thinker, and in the end an honest person and a healthy ignorant person.