I spent a lot of my life being average. Average height as a little kid. Average weight most years, sometimes really thin. Average grades. Average family. Average athletic ability. Average to maybe below average creativity. I was just solidly average in so many facets of life. At times I was higher than average at school, or I got a little taller faster than the kids in my class, or I managed to do some Air Force training better than anyone else. It did happen.
My parents, being the “average” Boomers that they were and still are, determined that self esteem was unnecessary, so we didn’t talk about the things I did averagely or even better than average. Above average was expected for me and therefore praise would make my head too much and I would be cocky. Several family members thought I was brilliant, but living with me was more challenging than hanging out with me a few hours every month. I was curious. I would say I am SUPERIOR in curiosity to anyone else I have ever met. Google is literally my best friend. I think I google at least 40-50 unique things every day. Things like current events, what actor was in what movie, what’s the entire cast of that show, what was the weather on this day in 1900, how many lumens are in an average light bulb, what’s the temperature in the Middle East right now, what was the top song this week in 1981? It is literally never ending for me. It doesn’t bother me that I have so many questions, but I know it’s frustrating to watch a movie at home with me because I’m suddenly on my phone trying to figure out where I know an actor from and isn’t that other lady on-screen in my favorite movie? I don’t do this AT the movies because I don’t want to annoy the entire theatre. It’s like I need my own light-hiding booth so I can happily search all of those things during the movie. ADHD means I can read casual things and listen to the movie at the same time, looking up every few seconds. It’s one of my most favorite things about ADHD, actually. The ability to see, hear, and read all at the same time is priceless.
So curiosity is a gift I have, along with certain parts of ADHD that have helped me over the years. They both combine to give me another extraordinary gift, which is the ability to figure out things using multiple sources and techniques. It helps with all the ancestry research I’ve been doing. I also have done several research projects for friends and family. I’ve tracked down long-lost friends, gotten background information about a family whose child was bullying a child in my family, did a internet-footprint summary for a college friend who was being stalked, to include detailed information on how I could get into her actual apartment building, evade the doorman by claiming to look at a vacant apartment above hers and how I could use the garden terrace to wreak havoc on her. I also verified that her daughter’s online presence barely existed. This helped her understand she needed to change her phone number immediately and I gave her the information she needed to tighten up personal security and remove certain pieces of her information from the internet. I am in the middle of a huge project of my own, which is outlining the history of the residents of my house, which was built in 1947. It’s been fun to figure out who has lived here before us and the lives they led, traffic tickets and all. Several divorces and one weird middle aged woman who kept marrying older men before she died at 55 years old. It’s truly amazing what you can find.
So I think this is something I can do. I can design my own business taking on historical research projects like genealogy, house history, anything historical really, internet footprint, checking out children’s internet footprints, etc. I am confident that I can do these projects because once I’m onto something interesting, even if it’s not for me, I get hyper-focused until I figure out all the pieces of the puzzle. I think about the ethics of this and I do want to research some of that. I don’t want to provide a stalker with pieces of information about a living person, so maybe that’s where I draw the line. I won’t look for estranged family members, exes, or anything that seems like it’s just stalking for no good reason. I do think parents have some right to know what their children are up to, but I don’t want to do anything to put a child who is hiding part of their personality to stay safe. I wouldn’t want to out an LGBTQIA kid to parents who will hurt them, but I would want to help out a kid on drugs. So there’s some gray area that I want to think through before I start this up.
I always thought after I retired that I would start my own business doing something. I wasn’t sure what. I knew I was good at finding things out and getting information on various topics. But I can feel that this is starting to come into focus much more clearly this year. Last year I just sort of sat around, thinking about all the things I was good at and how I could use those to be somewhat useful to society. And it was messy and depressing. I went through multiple phases of “I’m not good at anything” to “I can do some things really well but I am not sure how to use that for anything people would pay for.” But I see it now. I see a way to work for myself, doing something I enjoy, and helping people at the same time. It’s never been about the money for me. I just don’t want to work for free.
I think if everyone had the opportunity to get to know themselves and evaluate what gifts they have, we could all figure out exactly what we should be doing and how to have a job that doesn’t feel like work. I was compensated well in the Air Force, and sometimes I really loved it. But a lot of the time it was really hard for me to find meaning in what I was doing, especially the paperwork part of it. That led to me feeling trapped and unhappy. Working for myself and taking on projects at a pace that won’t overwhelm me with work is a way to keep my life balanced and happy. I spent years in the Air Force at jobs where the work is never done and you cannot find any joy in a job that keeps on giving hard work.
Stay tuned to see how I decide to use my gifts and if I can actually make my own business doing something I enjoy!