ADHD: why I think hyperfocus is my superpower

by Sarah Fader

Little girl wearing a purple track suit and pink cape and mask, looks out across the horizon perched on a roof top. She is crouched down, looking as if she is about to jump off and fly. There is a beautiful pink sunrise over a city scape in the background. Image for an article on what is hyperfocus?
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Don’t be ashamed of your ADHD. Instead, make it work for you. Wear your superhero cape proudly. You will amaze yourself and everyone around you!

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©Konstantin Yuganov / Adobe Stock

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People like me living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder don’t do anything that is mundane, because they can’t focus on what doesn’t interest them. I don’t want to do anything that I’m not passionate about, and I refuse to compromise my values on this. Individuals with ADHD are easily bored. I refuse to do anything that drains my energy. However, what many people don’t know about ADHD is this; just as it causes us a difficult-to-control lack of focus, it also gives us a superpower on the other side of the spectrum. That superpower is called hyperfocus. And for me, hyperfocus is my superpower.


What is hyperfocus?

Hyperfocus is precisely what you imagine it is. When I experience hyperfocus, I zero in on a project and can’t look away. All of the outside stimuli (noises, etc.) around us seems to disappear, and all that we can see or think about is the thing that we’re hyperfocused on doing. A person with (like me) living with ADHD can look at the textbook, and it appears to be in a language we don’t know. I’ve had that experience many times. I find myself spacing out when I’m in a conversation with someone, not because I don’t care, but due to my focusing issues. I miss important information; On the other side of the spectrum, hyperfocus is my superpower where I’m intensely into what I’m doing.


Read more: 10 signs you may have an actual anxiety disorder


I’m not ignoring you on purpose

The intense fixation that hyperfocus causes might make it appear that I’m ignoring people or things around me. People with ADHD struggle to listen a lot. It could be I’m having trouble hearing instructions from someone or listening to a professor’s lecture. It might look like I’m ignoring you, but I’m not. I don’t listen to you because my mind fixates on something else. I realize that this might be frustrating for others. Instead of getting annoyed with me, you’re welcome to interject (even if you have to do it repeatedly) and say “hey, I see that you’re extremely focused on this right now. Can you do ______ for a second?”


Use hyperfocus to your advantage

While hyperfocus does have a downside, it is something that you can and should use to your advantage if you have ADHD. Your extreme fixation, when it happens, means that you can complete projects in record time! Whatever you are hyperfocused on, you can do it more quickly and efficiently than someone without ADHD could. People with ADHD can be hugely successful, and hyperfocus is a significant contributor to that success. Use it to your advantage and view it as a gift. Hyperfocus is my superpower.

What is hyperfocus? It is a superpower

I used to feel embarrassed by the things I couldn’t do because of my ADHD, but I’ve learned that doesn’t serve me. I focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. Don’t be ashamed of your ADHD. Instead, make it work for you. Remember – ADHD isn’t what the abbreviation suggests, a “deficit” in your attention. Here’s the reality: ADHD makes it hard to regulate concentration. Hyperfocus happens because either you’re struggling to focus at all or you’re concentrating hard, and as a result, you drown out the world around you, which isn’t a bad thing; it is a superpower. Use this intense focus to absorb yourself in what you are doing. Wear your superhero cape proudly. You will amaze yourself and everyone around you!


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Profile photo of Sarah Fader taken in her car. She has a tattoo on her left arm and she is wearing a blank tank top. Sarah has red hair and wears glasses
Article by Sarah Fader

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with Bipolar type II, OCD ADHD, and PTSD

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