It’s interesting that the things that help us pay attention don’t always help us look like we’re paying attention…
“Who would like to try conjugating this… [pause]… Put that away!”
The teacher had been pacing behind me.
Who was she talking to? It couldn’t be me. I was a good student. Teachers like me.
I better look around.
Uh oh. The teacher is glaring at me. In fact, the whole class is staring at me. The cute girl is laughing quietly to her friend.
Wait. What’s going on? Is this a scene from a movie?
Looking at my notebook, I see that I’d been doodling. That was nothing new. I always sketched in class.
But somehow this time, I’d been caught.
Drawing had always been this lovely creative process where I could discover what I was making as I made it…
What could this line become? Oh wait, that didn’t work… how about if I try that?
Whenever I found a lecture to be too dry, I needed to find life somewhere. And once I did, I could suddenly pay attention better.
We could always argue, isn’t there no such thing as multi-tasking?
Well, yes. But sometimes a second task can provide a necessary stimulation to engage. Particularly when the mind has a bunch of unused processing cycles, it is going to find something else to do, pretty much whether we like it or not. We may as well give it something that works in our favor.
If I didn’t give something to quench that thirst for stimulation (for life!), I’d likely be lost in daydream and not paying attention at all.
But clearly the teacher didn’t get it. And, she pulls rank. Further, there was no way I was about to explain the above, something I can only do now as an adult.
I sheepishly put my notebook away.
It’s interesting that the things that help us pay attention don’t always help us look like we’re paying attention. And of course, by “interesting”, I mean “infuriating”.
While I may long for the fewer responsibilities of my younger years, thank goodness I now have the agency to deliberately arrange my environment to help me engage.
Now I get to do things my way. I can blast music, play with fidgets, and tap my foot all I want! Ha! Take that Mrs. P!
PS My next major project is continuing to shape up nicely. I’m continuing to make adjustments here and there, and now I’m playing with the title. The latest is:
Guiding the Waves of Focus: Finding Flow with ADHD and other Wandering Minds
There’s still no ETA, but I can’t wait to start rolling it out…