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viewpoint

It’s time to be real

| Monday, January 23, 2023

Over break, a few friends and I went to a coffee shop in South Bend. Besides serving one of the best lattes I’ve had in my life, the store is full of books that can be lent out to customers and handmade goods from local vendors.

Needless to say, it’s now one of my favorite places.

But that day, it wasn’t really about the drink I had or how my eyes traveled from bookshelf to bookshelf. It was about the very long, very real conversation I had with my friends.

After we caught up about we had been since we last saw each other, we talked for at least two hours about how much our mindset about school had changed. In the plus column, none of us felt a crippling obsession to have perfect grades. We’ve all learned that despite whatever our college-prep high school told us, grades are only one (probably flawed) way to measure how much you know.

But over the last three and a half years, we all started to notice differences in the ways our brains worked. It had become harder to concentrate while we were working and easier to become frustrated about how long it took us to do assignments. There was a lot of anxiety around doing small tasks, like answering emails. We suddenly had many things that impacted our ability to the day-to-day activities we had done for years.

There will probably some people reading this column who think all of these things are signs of our generation. That we’re lazy and just can’t cope with circumstances that are manageable for many others.

But I’ve thought a lot about the many stories I’ve heard about women who have been diagnosed with ADHD in their 20s and 30s. For many years, I’ve taken for granted some things that probably signs of having a larger problem. I’m very forgetful, even after someone asks me to do something more than once. I’m easily overwhelmed in rooms where a lot of people talking at once. I procrastinate activities that I know will make me frustrated. I feel like I’m going to claw my eyes out if I have to sit still for long periods of time.

And while I did feel like I needed to squirm in my chair while I had this conversation with my friends, we all understood not knowing how to course correct away from these obstacles. Of feeling helpless when we were normally very proactive.

As I left that coffee shop with my friends, we looked at each other and said, “Wow I thought I was only one who felt like this.” And it shouldn’t have to be like that.

Even if it’s hard or embarrassing or scary, we can’t be dismissive of the problems we think only we have. If we want it to become easier to identify and diagnose conditions that sometimes go untreated into adulthood, we must be honest with ourselves and each other.

Let’s start 2023 by having more genuine conversations about how we’re feeling. It’s time to be real.

Contact Genevieve at [email protected]

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a senior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature, creative writing and secondary education with a minor in theatre. She currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor.

Contact Genevieve