Certifiably A.D.H.D. And Certified in Social Media for Business

A little over six months ago, while scrolling through Facebook, an ad from my alma mater (the University of Georgia) caught my eye.  The ad was promoting a Social Media for Business certificate program.  As my company’s social media coordinator and someone with a crazy thirst for this social stuff, I was intrigued, so I clicked on it…and the rest is history.

It was an online, self-paced program and I would have three months to complete it…and the option to pay extra for a one month extension if needed (a nice safety net for someone with ADHD and a full time job).

The social media field is constantly changing and expanding.  To navigate it properly, you have to research all the time and in pretty creative ways.  A resource that is seemingly valuable one day might be completely worthless by the next.  In a lot of ways, social media is a perfect fit for the ADHD brain.  It’s fast paced, engaging, creative, social, ever-changing and success in it really depends on understanding the big picture.

Anyway, social media fits for me and I have an insatiable thirst for understanding all the ins and outs, so this certificate program definitely caught my attention (no pun intended).

All that said, the idea of going “back to school,” even on such a small scale, kind of freaked me out.  I struggled so much in school that sometimes I look back and wonder how I ever made it through.  Don’t get me wrong, I fought like hell and I did make it through.  Some might even say, with flying colors…  Still, there’s such a feeling of defeat when I think back on my education.

Countless hours spent trying to get through the textbooks, underlining everything, rewriting everything…and eventually just typing the textbook verbatim, just to try and learn something.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pay attention in class.  I’d mastered the art of being able to take extremely thorough notes (mostly illegible notes) without being able to remember a damn thing from them.

The short of it is that school was really freaking hard.  I could elaborate…and I will in future posts, but you just need to know a little bit of the history there.  Heck, if you’re reading this as a fellow ADHDer / ADDer, then you probably know these feelings yourself.

I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was 26, after I’d survived (somehow) college.  Since then, I’ve always wondered what school would have been like if I had known about the ADHD.  Maybe I could have been more patient with myself or I would have accepted my struggles and asked for help, instead of forging through alone, expecting something from myself that I couldn’t produce.  Maybe I could have actually learned something, made it through a damn summer reading book or chased some of the dreams I had since rendered impossible.

But you can’t go back, right?  You can only go forward.

I’ve thought about going back to school a lot since being diagnosed.  If I can’t go back and change my educational history, maybe I can move forward and create a new one.  I took a photography class once and felt pretty good about it, but it was more of a hands-on thing.  It was about creating, not test taking or anything.  I was not required to retain information; I was really just expected to participate in the class assignments.  As someone who thrives in a creative setting, that class wasn’t exactly reminiscent of the dark trenches from my educational past.

Regardless, I was torn about this online certification program (yeah, remember, that’s what this post is supposed to be about).  I was afraid to spend the $2,000+ and not succeed.  Let’s be honest, I was afraid to be a failure (again).

But, the longer I thought about it, the more I realized that I should try it.  It was, after all, a social media program and it was online…and self-paced.  There were four quizzes and I’d have to complete a Twitter account and a blog in order to “graduate.”  How bad could all of that be?  The quizzes were open book, for Pete’s sake.  Plus, I have Google now, which I never had before in school…and you can find all the answers there.

So, I took the plunge.  I enrolled in the program and held my breath.

I read every single sentence that I was supposed to, in all the books and in all the notes.  I felt like I was really getting the stuff and I was actually applying it at work and experimenting with different tactics I was learning.  Still, I got to the quizzes and choked.  The fact that the quizzes were open book made me feel like I had to get 100 on them – my OCD can be quite a nuisance at times, too.  Anything less than 100 and I would be a failure.  Oh, I forgot to mention, you could take the quizzes as many times as you wanted, so, yeah…you could eventually get a 100.  But…I needed to get 100 on the first try.

And so I did…on all four of them.  I read everything at least twice, highlighted/underlined and took notes.  I printed off all the notes and put them in a binder with dividers, so I could find the information easier while taking the quizzes.  Surprisingly, I got a little better with each quiz.  Whenever a question would trip me up, that old, familiar self-hate came flooding back.  It would psych me out for a second, but I managed to talk myself down each time.

I guess I still have some self-forgiveness left to do.  I’m not as stupid as my struggles have made me feel; there was simply more to those struggles than I ever imagined.

The whole time, I was trying to figure out what I was going to blog about.  Photography, kayaking, social media, do-it-yourself projects?  Somewhere I had read that you should blog about what you’re passionate about and what you could be considered an expert on.

In some regards, I do think I’m a social media expert, but for some reason I didn’t really feel like blogging about that.  My mind kept drifting back to ADHD and the idea that I could blog about it and help others…that I could make a difference.

Being in the social media field, it concerned me a bit, the idea of putting my ADHD out there so blatantly…for the whole world to see.  I mean, certification in Social Media for Business will look great on a resume, but not so sure how the ADHD will look…

I was on the fence about it for quite a while and time was running out.

Luckily, UGA offered a one month extension for free.  I could have finished the class in those first four months.  At the end of that fourth month, I was done with everything except the blog.  I only had to write five posts, which could have been really easy if they were about photography, kayaking, social media or do-it-yourself projects.

Yet something kept pulling me back to the ADHD…so I sucked it up and paid the $50 for the month extension and I went for it.  I had blogged here and there for years, but not in a long time…nearly a decade, but a part of me always knew (hoped?) I’d find my way back to the blogosphere.  And if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right, which was going to take a little more time.

It took me forever to write my first post.  I couldn’t figure out where to begin, what route to take or what I really wanted to say.

That first post was the hardest, taking that first step…as it always seems to be.  The other four (required) posts came a little easier.  Before I knew it, I had six posts instead of five, meaning I had surpassed the requirements of the program.

I submitted my blog to the instructor for approval.  You guys, it was pass/fail…and I don’t think anyone would actually fail.  But I can’t do anything half ass, so I poured my heart out.  I got 100 on my blog(pretty sure everybody did).  I got 100 for the program (pretty sure everybody did).

The certificate came in the mail yesterday and I have to say it’s pretty legit.  I’m proud of myself for doing something I was afraid to do…and I’m proud of myself for finishing it.  So, please forgive me if this comes across like I’m bragging.  It’s just that, we have to celebrate the accomplishments, even the small ones.  After a lifetime of failed attempts, it’s pretty awesome having a successful one.

I also kinda wanted to tell you guys how this blog was born.  For some reason, I felt like I was keeping something from you and that didn’t seem right.  Not that it matters how it started because I’m not stopping just because I completed the program.

Thing is, I seem to be reaching people here.  People seem to be reading and sharing, which means that they’re getting something from what I’m writing.  So, if it’s alright with you guys, I’m going to keep writing…at least until you get sick of me.

It was an accomplishment to complete the course, sure, but the idea that I might actually make a difference with this blog feels like a much bigger deal.  Thanks for reading, guys.  You have no idea how much it means to me.

(Sorry this was so long.  I understand if you didn’t make it all the way through.)

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