Very Good Years

This morning, on the train, a young man — twentysomthing — sat down across the aisle from me, a few seats away. I looked up as he got on the train, and went back to the book I was reading. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him reach into his backpack, take out a rather large book, and start reading. I was curious, and glanced up every once in a while to see if I could catch a glimpse of the title, but he didn’t look up from the book and I couldnt’ see the title.

The train came to what turned out to be both his transfer point and mine. As he closed the book and stood up, I finally caught a glimpse of the title: "Civil Procedure." I chuckled to myself, reminded of my own indefinitely postponed law school ambitions, and went on my way to the train that would take me to work.

As I was sitting down on the second train, another young man — again, twentysomething — was getting off the train. Under his arm was a book similar to the one the young man on the first train was reading. Again, curious, I caught a glimpse of the title: "Criminal Law." Again, I chuckled to myself, and thought of my own twenties.

I’ve written about this before, but there’s a kind of virtual marker on the timeline of my life that divides everything into before my ADD diagnosis/treatment, and after my ADD diagnosis/treatment. I haven’t thought much about it lately — being more focused my my life now — but it came back to me this morning, brought one by these brief encounters with apparently twentysomething law students.

What was I doing in my twenties? It all seems like a blur now, but what I mostly remember was spending a lot of time and energy trying to keep my head above water, and not always succeeding.  I remember watching other people advance in their careers and educations, while I seemed to be working hard just to tread water, and still occasionally went under. Now I look back and I wonder what happened to my twenties. What happened to those years? They happened, but what happened is something I’m still not sure about.

I tend to look at them as "lost years," because it’s literally as if at or around 32 years a curtain was suddenly pulled away, and there was light where I’d previously been stumbling around in the dark. The obstacles I’d struggled with in the past were still there, but I could see them clearly now, along with paths around some of them. At thirty-six, I’m finally making the progress I felt I should have been making at twenty-six. It becomes obvious to me when I look up and see people around me doing incredible things at an age when I was stumbling around in the dark.

I’m not sure whether or not I wish I had those years back, knowing all I do now, mainly because there’s a lot in my life right now that I wouldn’t trade for anything — mostly my life with my husband and son. Whatever else might have worked out differently had things gone another way in the past, that is something I wouldn’t want to change. As far as I’m concerned these are the good years; very good years, in fact. What I found myself thinking about this morning is just what those years of stumbling in the dark were for.

What did I learn from them or gain from them that has value now or might have value in the future? How am I better for having had the experience of those years? What is the good that has come out of it all? Those are questions I don’t have ready answers for.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
This entry was posted in ADD/ADHD, Law School, Life. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Very Good Years

  1. Zach says:

    I think I am lucky in the sense that I can use my site as a chronicle of this exciting time in my life. I turn 22 tomorrow.

  2. Nio says:

    I knew I had ADD years before the diagnosis came. I knew because I looked at my brother, saw his reactions, and his path in life and it was much the same as mine. He was diagnosed in grade school while I floundered around un(der)insured, thus, unable to get treated.

    Like yourself, my twenties were a haze, but that’s due to self medication of pot and tequila. I would certainly like to have had the tools I have now, but I still struggle every day with ADD. It affects every aspect of my life from eating, sex, sleep, education, employment, and relationships.

    If you don’t mind me asking, do you take medication for your ADD? If so, which kind.

  3. Sam says:

    For me, clinical depression was the culprit, but I have similar questions about the experience of wandering through my late teens and twenties in a haze. I’ve known I wanted to write fiction since I was in high school, but depression crippled my ability to write until the last few years, after I was diagnosed. Whenever I get frustrated at having wasted so much time, though, my beloved wife points out that looking back with regret blinds me to the opportunities of the present. I try to focus on today’s challenges and tomorrow’s dreams rather than yesterday’s failures.

  4. Silph says:

    Thanks, Terrence, for making this post. I am twenty-one years old, and ever since leaving High School, I often feel that these years that I’m going through are wasted and that I’m becoming jaded. I continually hope that this will not continue forever, and I continually look towards my future life. At this moment, in fact, I am suffereing from a bout of depression (I have been in bed for 7/8s of the last two days). To read a post like this, whose genuineness eminates through the way you can write it so earnestly and casually, gives me hope that maybe my own life will get on its own tracks and be the very good years that I dream of and hope for. Your post seems to sympathize and not blame me for when I feel overwhelmed and I fail terribly to keep my head above water. Thank you for sharing your personal life with me through your blog.

  5. elizabeth says:

    Hi there. I see that your post was published way back in August, so this comment is not very timely. I felt rather compelled to share some of my own experiences, especially about ADD/ADHD and law school.
    I’m a 2nd-year law student now and I happened upon your post while doing research for a paper. We have to fulfill an Advanced Legal Writing Requirement by writing a 30-page scholarly paper–I’m writing about ADD and the Americans w/Disabilities Act as they apply to law students. As someone who also deals with the challenges of ADD, it has been very interesting to learn so much myself along the way.
    I think it’s important that people with ADD are open about their struggles, so I admire your candor/honesty about your ADD. I love law school, but it’s hard, even with treatment. If more people like us handle our condition responsibly and tackle law school successfully, however, I think ADD will be more and more accepted as a legitimate, truly debilitating condition (that merits recognition and attention). People will see that with the appropriate treatment and accommodations, an intelligent person like you can exceed expectations.
    The legal profession NEEDS people with the type of personality often possessed by individuals with ADD. As evidenced by widespread lawyer criticism and jokes, it is clear that the public needs to see more creative, empathetic, compassionate, and caring lawyers. Lawyers who will embrace other people’s differences. If we focus on the positive things we can bring to the legal community, we can take steps toward some real change.

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