Changing Perspectives: Designing a life where I can thrive with neurodiversity

Jasmine Joseph
By Jasmine Joseph | 18 April 2024
Jasmine Joseph.

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

I’m Jasmine, I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been in the industry for about three years now. I was late-in-life diagnosed with ADHD, combined Hyperactive and Inattentive type. My formal diagnoses came while I was already in my current job, but I’d known something was different about me long before that.

Well, I say that I knew something was different, but I didn’t have a label for it until a friend bluntly but kindly blurted out: “Hey, have you ever considered that you might have ADHD? Because I do and you do and say so much that’s just like me!”

Since then, I’ve known quite a lot of adults with ADHD who have similar stories of being “peer reviewed” before they even really knew themselves, or it being something they’re learning about themselves when all their friends suddenly start getting formal diagnoses.

From that moment of being “peer reviewed”, suddenly everything made so much sense! That’s why I can focus on something I love for 10 hours with no breaks for food, but forcing myself to do something I don’t want to do feels legitimately impossible.

Some would think that kind of thing would be super incompatible with most jobs, but actually I feel like I’ve almost fallen into the perfectly compatible role for my brain.

Finding my feet in the industry
I went through a few rounds of interviews for different roles under the agency umbrella that I’m in, and the feedback I got from the recruiter was that the people interviewing me could see that I was really creative, and expressed a concern that I would be bored in the roles being offered to me.

Keeping that in mind, I assured the next interviewer that I had plenty of creative pursuits outside of work that keep me occupied (shoutout to the “abandoned hobby” graveyard I know so many of us have) and the kind of job they were offering was just what my brain needed, and I got it! While they were correct in seeing me as a creative person, my ADHD brain THRIVES on methodical tasks and quick deadlines.

When I started in the role, I knew something was different about me, but I was very anxious to not seem too “off” socially. To compensate, I was masking and doing my best impression of a normal person while I was new and getting to know everyone.

But as I settled in and started feeling comfortable with my team the mask slipped and it turned out everyone appreciated my “unique” personality and the perspective I brought to the team. And that helped me thrive!

Without having to waste energy on masking, knowing my team accepted me as the little weirdo I am, I got to focus my efforts on finding my strengths. My team love my transparency, my creative problem-solving skills, my unwavering attention to detail, and my willingness to always meet the challenge of a last-minute deadline.

Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations
My best recommendation for other neurospicy people in our industry is to ask for your accommodations!

If you need that quieter desk in the corner for fewer distractions, or to wear earplugs during an in-person all-staffer, or written instructions over verbal ones – don’t be nervous to ask for it. These are all things I ask for and receive in my current role! My brain simply cannot function at 100% every day, but having little accommodations allow me to design a work life for myself where I can thrive.

To the leaders in our industry: it’s so worth taking a chance on someone neurodivergent. Our unique perspectives and personalities can lead to some truly innovative ideas and practices. And on a personal level, we make excellent additions to the office culture.

I absolutely LOVE seeing people in our industry be open about their neurodiversity, which is why I put my hand up to write this. My hope is that maybe a brand new co-ord or assistant reads this and feels empowered to be their whole selves at work, and ask for the accommodations they need to thrive in their roles too.

Jasmine Joseph is Activation Executive at PHD

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