We love to share inspiring stories from entrepreneurs who have a label like ADHD, such as the Dutch Danielle Meesters. Danielle was diagnosed with ADHD later in life, when she was 32. Regular treatment was not for her (in the long run). After someone advised her to stay true to herself, and she actually had no idea what that meant, she started her journey of self discovery. For a few years now, she has been coaching adults with AD(H)D who are getting stuck in their (work) life, towards more peace, energy and fun. She does this by helping you see ADHD as your strength rather than an obstacle.
Read Danielle's story here.
Who am I?
I am Danielle, I’m 36 and I live in Amsterdam. With my husband Alex, daughter Luna (2.5) and son Elias (6 months). From our home we have a free view to nature, you won’t believe it (in Amsterdam!) (moving here has really changed my life, in the positive sense, obviously).
I am curious and always looking. For a new challenge, a new adventure and for the best version of myself. I am enthusiastic, decisive and also down to earth. I like to think I'm funny, but my imposter doesn't quite agree.
I love fries with mayo and pasta (I would live in Italy only for the food). I practice yoga (irregularly) and I meditate. I love singing in the car with the music at max. volume. It makes me happy and it really helps me to get out of my head.
WTF is wrong with me?
After searching all my life for what was “wrong” with me, I was diagnosed with ADHD, Combined Type, at age 32.
When you're diagnosed at such a late age, you don't really know any better than that that's who you are. I soon found out that a trajectory in regular care does not suit me (for the long term). The diagnosis was a (new) beginning for me, a point of departure. like: OK, now what?
Pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Like the reason I've always felt like a ‘misfit'. I've never really been part of a group of friends. While I am very social. My studies went quite easy honestly. I'm lucky that I have a good short term memory. I would always study a day in advance for my exams and that often worked. After an exam I would immediately forget everything. And sometimes I had to retake 5 times.
I worked in fashion for 10 years, as a buyer. That was fantastic in the beginning, I traveled around the world. It was a fast and dynamic world! Until the company I worked for got bigger and my job became more specific. I was good with numbers (says WHO?!) so I got a job as a planner. Now I have to laugh really hard about that, but I was very unhappy. It felt like I was never good enough, waiting for the moment people would discover the ‘real’ me. Because I wasn't good at numbers at all! I had only learned to make excel work for me, a nice ADHD way to solve my problem. And I was good at analyzing them. I didn’t like the job, it was boring, it was hard work.
There must be another way
To the point that I thought, there must be another way, right? Is this it? The life? I couldn't take it any longer and quit, went on a world trip. Hoping that everything would be resolved traveling around. But the opposite was true. Long story short, I ended up in a kind of storm in the middle of the sea, I got further and further removed from myself.
Until someone said: ‘May I give you the tip: stay close to yourself'. This touched me deeply, because I had no idea what that meant. Who am I actually? And what do I want?
The search for me
That’s when the search for myself began, and it was a long, bumpy ride. But the best gift I've given myself. I found out what suits me and what works for me to experience more inner peace, more energy and pleasure in the things I do. I realized that it can also be done differently. This feeling gave me such freedom that I thought: I really wish this to EVERYONE who gets stuck in his or her life.
Suddenly the puzzle pieces fell together.
For a few years now I have been coaching people with AD(H)D who get stuck in their (work) life, towards more peace, energy and pleasure in their (work) life. By seeing your AD(H)D as your strength instead of a disorder.
And that is exactly what I have done myself, using my AD(H)D as my strength.
By creating a life that suits me, instead of a life that you are “supposed to have”.
My work is very divers, which is super important to me. It's challenging and I learn new things every day. I really enjoy personal development and it never gets boring, so I'm super grateful to be able to grow daily through the work I do.
And of course also helping others in their growth. It's fantastic to see people transform in a short period of time from insecure, all over the place, to confident and more relaxed. Actually being happy with themselves and with who they are.
Entrepreneurship with ADHD
Entrepreneurship suits me because of the variety. It's super versatile. It is not only coaching and developing myself in my profession, but also developing yourself as an entrepreneur. I've learned that it's really a trade in itself. It's challenging, and I like challenges.
Because I have found what my passion is, it is easier for me to go into my hyperfocus. I'm a go-getter and I'm sure that's because of my AD(H)D. I'm not afraid to work hard, although this is certainly also my pitfall. My creativity helps me to look for solutions, to look beyond. I am really a doer, so I have an idea and get to work. Many people around me say: “You just go for it, you dare to follow your dream” and a piece of bravery / being fearless is ADHD too.
I'm super glad I took the step. If I hadn't done it I would have always wondered what if. It is really not always easy, it is often a mirror, confrontational, but because of that you also learn so much about yourself, as a person, and as an entrepreneur.
With everything I know now, I would give myself the following advice
Seek help in time! You don't have to do it alone. It is super super important to tame your own dragons first. They will hunt you down.
Entrepreneurship is really a profession in its own right, there are people who are really good at it, learn from them. I immediately outsourced my finances, because I know that's not where my strength lies. This allows me to focus on what I am good at. I also have someone who helps me with creating an overview and solving technical things for me, that's so great!
I want to say to everyone with AD(H)D who reads this
Everything is possible, even for you. If I can do it, create my life the way it suits me, then you can too! The first step is to go inside, to the core of who you are as a person and above all to ask yourself: Who do I want to be?
You're not broken, you don't need to be fixed! Hiding yourself, trying to ‘tame' your AD(H)D characteristics so that they do not exist is a sin. Because when you embrace it, then you are brilliant..
This was Danielle's story about entrepreneurship with ADHD
Danielle shows that entrepreneurship and ADHD can go hand in hand very well. Because of having the ADHD-label herself, and her own journey towards self-knowledge and self development, she now knows exactly how to guide others in this same search. Do you also wish to learn how to turn your ADHD from an obstacle into a strength? Or are you also on the path towards knowing and understand yourself better? We would love it if you leave a comment!