For the series “successful entrepreneurs with ADD”, we invited the Dutch Jasper Buitenhuis to share his story. Jasper is an ADHD trainer and coach and has been diagnosed with ADD himself. After a very difficult period in his life (where he was dealing with insecurity, agoraphobia, fear of failure, depression, suicidal thoughts and addictions) he decided to go and travel for a longer period of time. This was the best choice he could make, his life changed completely! Now he helps other young adults in making their dreams come true.
Read Jasper's story here. We love it when you leave a comment!
ADD coach for young adults who want to make their dreams come true
My name is Jasper Buitenhuis, I'm 32 years old and I was raised in the beautiful Veluwe (in the Netherlands). After living in Australia and Asia for a number of years, I now live in the picturesque Vianen (also in the Netherlands). If all goes well, we will move to Spain at the end of this year. In daily life, I run my own Dutch company, jasperbuitenhuis.nl. I coach and train young adults with ADD/ADHD, and help them make their dreams come true. My motto is: Stop procrastinating, start dreaming!
10 years ago: fear of failure, depression, negative self-image & ADD diagnosis
About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with ADD. My life was pretty dark at that time and I was extremely unhappy with myself. I've always felt like I was different from average. Over the years, I had had many bad experiences at school, dealing with bullying. I failed to concentrate, among other things, time and again. Fear of failure, negative self-image and periods of depression made sure that I was not comfortable in my own skin at all.
I studied commercial economy, something I really hated. However, I had learned from an early age that school wasn't fun, so I never asked myself why I was doing a study I didn't like.
Fear: “I don't want this life!”
With a lot of effort, I made it to the last year of my studies, and it was time to graduate. A gigantic fear crept over me. I didn't want this. Because I was afraid of what would come next, I didn't want to finish studying. I'd no idea what I'd like to do, no idea where I'd want to go. The future felt very scary.
An article about ADD in a Dutch magazine, so recognizable!
In the years prior to this, I had also gained far too little knowledge to sufficiently complete this thesis, and I was extremely insecure. All this together made me collapse. I was empty, I couldn't go on anymore. My body came into complete resistance. My mother then let me read an article about ADD from the Libelle, a Dutch magazine. I read it in amazement. A world opened up to me: This was me!
It turned out to be an article by someone with ADD and I fully recognized myself in this story. For the first time in my life I had the feeling that someone understood me. What a special moment that was.
The school system does not fit my way of learning at all
ADD has had a huge impact on my life. I have now also found out that the school system that we are offered in the Netherlands does not suit my way of learning. If I can learn something I like, I learn easily and fast. But I notice a lot of resistance when I have to learn something that is not really interesting to me. Also, I find it difficult when I get the feeling that people are forcing me to learn something. I want to understand the logic of why I am learning something, feel it, and understand why this is important to me. If not, it feels like I'm having a healthy tooth pulled at the dentist: totally useless.
My concentration at school was dramatic and I procrastinated
Unfortunately, at school I had to learn things that I didn't like at all every day. My concentration level was lousy, I postponed everything and condemned myself for this. Time and again, I went beyond your own limits. I adjusted, doubted myself. Am I doing it right? Can I? Why can't I do this? There must be something wrong with me. In the end, this gave me the well-known consequential damage that comes with ADD.
Uncertainty caused me to perform far below my level during the study
I became extremely insecure, couldn't manage to turn off my negative thoughts, and performed well below my ability. In the end I stopped my studies. This was a temporary relief and the first time I really chose myself. After that I had to find a job, but without a diploma I didn't get very far. I ended up at a distribution center. This work was too easy and caused understimulation. This caused me to walk off the edges and sink even further.
Poor sleep, stress, anxiety & panic attacks
During that time, I also slept terribly. I experienced a lot of stress, and nights of 2 to 3 hours of sleep were of no exception. At a certain point, I no longer dared to go into a supermarket. In supermarkets, I would experience complete black-outs, and I had to go outside again as quickly as possible. Normally, I took the same groceries in my basket every time.
My low point was in 2015. It had been enough, and I had only one thought: I want to leave, and as soon as possible!
Backpacking in Asia: freedom & adventure, the best choice I could have made
Now things are going very well for me. In 2016 I decided to travel for 3 months, backpacking in Asia. I wanted freedom and adventure. No worries for a while. And that was the best choice I could have made. On my first day in Bangkok, I realized that nobody knew me here. What a relief. A great weight was lifted off my shoulders.
The first weeks were fantastic. Every day was one big adventure. Everything was new, everything was interesting. In the Netherlands I thought that people interacted with me because they knew me, not because they could really like me. This changed in Asia. How very nice that was.
More self-confidence by regularly stepping out of my comfort zone
During this time I had to get out of my comfort zone a lot. For example, I remember very well the first time I went out to dinner alone. I found people who did that just a little sad. I thought they were lonely. The first time, I was very scared and almost didn't dare to step into the restaurant. Finally, I got talking to a Brazilian pilot who was also eating alone, and he asked if I wanted to join. We had a very nice conversation and after 2 hours, I left the restaurant with a huge smile on my face.
Moments like this followed each other in quick succession. This resulted in more and more self-confidence, I dared and did more and more. After three months I decided not to go back to the Netherlands, but to fly to Australia with barely €1500.
Personal development, mindset, achieving goals
In Australia too, it was again a series of challenges, failures and successes. In the end, I stayed away for 1.5 years and in the meantime I got to know my current girlfriend. After 3 months in the Netherlands, we decided to leave for Australia together. In this year I came into contact with personal development, through the Dutch podcast of Thijs Lindhout.
From listening to the first podcast, I was completely hooked. I listened to new podcasts daily, read books and followed online training courses. Because of this, I learned how to influence my own mindset, how to achieve goals and change my own behavior. A whole new world opened up for me.
I wanted to pass on what I learned
Taking responsibility for my own life was key. Despite my ADD, I had made many wrong choices myself. When something went wrong, I often pointed to others. I decided to change this.
When I returned to the Netherlands, I wanted as many people as possible to learn this, and I decided to become an ADD/ADHD coach. I started training and was offered a job at a coaching company. More and more puzzle pieces fell into place and I got more energy every day.
Overcoming everything, like my fear of speaking
Since my travels, I no longer shy away from a challenge. I absolutely want to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of my dreams. An example is the fear of speaking I suffered from. I wanted to tell my story in front of groups, but my fear of standing in front of groups would make this almost impossible. In the past, I had had dramatic experiences when I had to give a presentation in front of the class. This fear was deeply rooted, and I thought I was not made for this. In the end, I started working with a coach and started practicing a lot in front of the camera at home. After a few months, I was completely done with this fear.
As a trainer and coach I help young adults with ADHD make dreams come true
So now, I am a trainer and coach in the field of ADHD. My mission is to help as many young, enthusiastic people with ADHD as possible to make their dreams come true. Have you been dreaming of a trip around the world for years, but are you afraid? Do you want to start your own business, but don't think you can? Do you want to switch jobs, but are you afraid to give up security? Do you constantly walk in the same circle, or does your environment keep you small? I help Dutch people with these kind of questions.
I firmly believe that we can achieve anything we dream about. Provided we dare to make choices, make sacrifices and take on challenges. I have specialized in procrastination, because this is a common problem among people with ADHD.
Living on your own terms & developing self confidence
I teach people to organize a life in their own way, which suits their own wishes and conditions. I teach them to regain confidence in themselves, to set goals and achieve them.
To reach a larger group of people, I recently started a Dutch podcast. In Successful living with ADHD, I look at how we can make our life with ADD/ADHD successful. Successful to me does not mean having a lot of money and a good job. Successful to me means that you enjoy what you do and that you are happy with yourself. That is ultimately what life is all about, I believe.
Coaching from my own experience
Because I myself have gone through what it means to have ADD and to learn to manage it, I hope to be able to help others well. I have experienced the flip side and I know how terribly hopeless that situation can be. All that well-intentioned advice from people around you will only backfire and push you further into the abyss. I have managed to find that intrinsic motivation within myself. Paying attention to that every day ensures that I have enough energy.
This way I know for sure that it is also possible for others. I don't doubt the talent and ability of anyone else. I often know within one session which way someone wants to go. And if we manage to hit that chord, it can go really fast.
ADD is my strength as a trainer and coach
I use various ADD symptoms as strengths during coaching. Like thinking out-of-the-box: I always see an opportunity in something. Not being able to do something, doesn't exist for me. In addition, I often do before I think, so I regularly come into contact with people who I can learn from and who want to help me grow.
I have access to the hyperfocus and that comes in very handy with my own company. I really enjoy it and can therefore put a lot of time into it.
Being self-employed with ADD: of course there are also challenges
As an adult with ADD, keeping an overview is a challenge. I like a lot of different things, and because of that I tend to pick up a lot. This can make my head busy, causing me to lose the overview. Because I'm having several projects at the same time, I can sometimes freeze a bit. Fortunately, I taught myself techniques how to solve it properly. And I'm saying no more often, to things I don't really enjoy.
Is entrepreneurship with ADD a good idea?
I can definitely recommend other adults with ADD to start a business! Especially if you've thought about this before. I remember that I used to think: “it would be really nice if I could be my own boss, then I don't have to stick to all those rules anymore”. However, I also immediately thought that this was not for me. I couldn't handle money, my administration was always a drama and my concentration level was 0. How on earth could I run a company?
I have now learned that it can all be learned. And why? Because we do something we like, and because we can do it in our own way and at our own pace.
Tips for you
Finally, I would like to give you some tips from my experience. The most important tip: start believing in your own dreams. These dreams are your fuel to get out of your troubles. Step out of your comfort zone a little bit every time. This gives you more confidence and allows you to grow.
Although you have undoubtedly experienced a lot in the past, this does not have to have a negative influence on your future. Try to stay away from that victim role, you have so much talent in you.
ADD is not a limitation but something beautiful: go for your dreams!
I hope one day that we don't see ADD or ADHD as a limitation, but as something beautiful. And act accordingly. A skill in which you can completely immerse yourself in a task, which you can become very good at.
Go for your dreams, you are worth it!