Being Inconsistent

I have been accused of being inconsistent. A friend in college told me she felt I offered “more good and more bad”. A manager said when seeking performance review feedback, most people when asked about a staffer say they have vague impressions, but with me, they seemed to love me or hate me.

I don’t know in the work world to play to my strengths or my weaknesses. If I am going to have more lapses than most people, I know I need forgiveness (more than most people). Perhaps this is the underachievement syndrome some of us face. A neurologist I met said, about his own challenges that might be something along the lines of ADHD, that without them, he would have won a Nobel Prize. So, I think that is what is so confounding for ourselves and others, is that we have moments when everything IS aligned for success, and moments when we muddle along well enough, or better than most, and moments when we may appear to make careless mistakes (which I attribute to an overtaxed short-term memory).

I was trying to forewarn a new acquaintance last night who’d commented about breaking off a personal relationship with someone unreliable that I need acceptance since I value reliability, but cannot always deliver it. The propensity is an issue to be aware of.

. . . Now, a few weeks later, I have watched a sequel to the PBS show that portrays in an easy-to-get fashion what it’s like to have a learning disability (F.A.T. City, for “Frustration, Anxiety and Tension”). The sequel ( picks up after around the first 58 minutes . . . in it, Rick Lavoie says about inconsistency that it’s like a room with three clocks that are all running differently — every now and again, they are aligned and all agree — so it is like that, that the human mind may be out of sync but every now and then everything snaps into place.

He also mentioned the concept of “social contract” which is, I think, what leads inconsistent people to feel isolated. I had also read in Katherine Ellison’s “Buzz” (about she and her son being diagnosed with ADHD) that she came to believe trust was at the crux of the issue.

I remember feeling so hurt, peeved, and aggrieved when being accused by a controlling boss that she felt other managers who interfaced with my work didn’t trust me. Maybe it was just because I was inconsistent, so it might be hard to know what to expect, or erratic.

Letting people down — even if unintentionally — breaks that social contract, limits trust, and so people will start to pull away. And, as Lavoie pointed out in the sequel, kids felt strongly that the social bonds mattered way more to them than learning — if they could only fix one of those two things, it’d be the social one.

The only answer I have, which can be hard to keep in mind to do, is to express motive behind a behavior so people don’t read their own opinions into unexpected choices (or occasional lapses). A neighbor who is sometimes scattered and sometimes needs to just chill said she alerts people that she is going into her cave — so they don’t take offense, I guess.