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ADHD and Freelancing with Shannon Craver


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Shannon Craver was recently diagnosed with #ADHD during this interview during quarantine. The London-based brand and app designer has since gone onto grow a six-figure freelance business. In this episode, we talk about her journey to diagnosis, how she gets into her workflow and more. 

Where To Find Shannon

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ADHDdesigner
Blog – https://www.adhddesigner.com/
Design studio – https://studiocontrary.com/

 

Where To Find The Adulting With ADHD Podcast

Podcast – https://adultingwithadhd.libsyn.com/
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/adultingwithadhd
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/adultingwithadhd

 

 Sarah   00:28

This is the adult with ADHD podcast self empowerment for women with ADHD. Today we have Shannon , a freelance designer based out of London. How’re you doing today, Shannon?

 

Shannon   00:43

I’m good. How are you? I’m great. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story with us. This is my pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

 

Sarah   00:53

Absolutely. Um, let’s first jump into your diagnosis story. When were you diagnosed?

 

Shannon   01:01

I got so I was diagnosed, um, really recently, and in April of this year. Why? And? Yeah, so it’s all been a big welcome. Thank you, man. Yeah, it was um, yeah. So basically what happened was, um, I, I started, like, started suspecting. I’m probably in December, like around Christmas. And so I went home for Christmas. I live in London, but I’m obviously not. I’m British. I’m from Vancouver, and I went home at Christmas. And, and I was having a chat with my little brother. And he started talking about getting diagnosed with ADHD. And I was like, oh, like, hyperactive kids, but you’ve never been, like, hyper. Like, like, he’s a weirdo. But he’s not. He’s not. I never asked him. He’s like, Oh, yeah, no, it’s actually not that. And I was like, Oh,

 

02:09

why?

 

Shannon   02:11

Because I had just started. I never really, I guess I didn’t know what it was basically, is what it? Yes. Um, yeah. saying like, I thought it was what you see on TV. The stereotype. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that’s all I knew.

 

02:27

Sitting here.

 

Shannon   02:28

Yeah. It’s just like, but then when he started talking about his experience, and he had actually, I’m sorry, I have a diagnosis after speaking to a friend of his who explained to him what? Wow. But he basically said, what happened to cheat? Like, what it is, and I was, but that’s me. Right? Like, that’s me, too. And it was this moment where I was like, could I? But yeah, right, then I so then I didn’t really like do anything about it, which like, hindsight now is like the most he ever. It just sort of, like went out of my head for a while. Um, and then it came back into my head and sort of around when the whole block started.

 

Sarah   03:30

When you’re when you’re stuck with yourself, and you’re looking.

 

03:34

Yeah,

 

Shannon   03:34

yeah, I was like, particularly having like, quite a hard time like getting things done, especially like in my freelance. Yeah. I also like have recently jumped back into and yeah, this year. So I was just like, I mean, along with, I think, just about everybody. I was I was struggling a bit. Yeah, not really knowing what to do. And, um, yeah, then I then I was, like, thought back to this at shaking. And I was like, I wonder if this is part of it. Yeah. Um, and so I did some research and I read, um, basically, all I had to do was read one book, and it was the women with ADHD. I can’t remember the author’s. I’m

 

Sarah   04:27

sorry. solden. That’s right. Yeah. That’s such a good book. That’s my favorite. Yeah.

 

Shannon   04:32

It was like every word I was like, 100% 100% my life. Yeah. Which so many people say that now?

 

Sarah   04:43

Yes, especially the part where she, she was taking her work home for the weekend. And thought that was completely normal to me to need two extra days aside from your work week to kind of get it all together. I really related to that, like immediately. Also No, I do that and and to find out that’s not everybody’s experience. Not everybody needs two extra days at home on their weekend to collect themselves from their workweek, like, oh, wow, interesting. Like,

 

Shannon   05:16

that’s incredible. There’s so many moments like that in there. So many it was just like, moment after moment after moment. Like, this is exactly my experience. I just didn’t know it had a name. Yeah,

 

Sarah   05:31

exactly. So yeah. Tell me more about this, the freelancing experience? And you you recently jumping back into it? And those that the difficulties from that? Is that part of how you connected the dots or, and realized you might have it or did one come before the other?

 

Shannon   05:52

Um, yeah, I think I think, you know, back in back at Christmas, I did sort of, oh, like, I think I might have this. But at the time, I think I had like, other things on my mind. And it just Yeah, I just didn’t like, really feel like I needed to seek out like, whether or not

 

06:17

right

 

Shannon   06:18

with me or not, I guess I don’t know. Right. Wasn’t at the top of my list

 

Sarah   06:23

to mobilize. So when did you start freelancing again?

 

Shannon   06:27

Yeah, so I got my background.

 

Sarah   06:31

Yeah. Tell us about your design back, right. Yeah,

 

Shannon   06:34

I’ve been working as a designer for just over 10 years, and kind of started in Vancouver, where I’m from, make them safe, serve it. And then about five years ago, I moved to London. And so I’ve been kind of, I’ve always said, a mix of like freelancing, and on and off, and then contracting with different design agencies. And then my last role was the permanent role as design agency. And that was for quite a few years, which is, like, not normal. Yeah, one of those people that jumps

 

Sarah   07:11

like a two year when I have a two year feeling, basically, unless it’s just me. Yeah,

 

Shannon   07:18

yeah. Honestly, me too. And I was always like, you know, I’m a millennial. It’s fine. We all do it right. Now that I have the diagnosis.

 

Shannon   07:33

Are you the last time it’s great. And be one of the reasons I say there was because I had a visa situation, and all that. So, I mean, for me, I think it was good learning experience. So like I say, I get a place for a while. Um, but ultimately, I was sort of like itching to get back to my own thing. So yeah, yeah. I freelance on and off, like, throughout my career, but sort of decided to jump back in like, full, full on. Yeah. And that sort of at the beginning of this year.

 

Sarah   08:06

So tell me what your experience has been like, like, how, how has it been freelancing now that you know, you have ADHD? And? versus before? Does it has it changed? How you work?

 

Shannon   08:21

I think it has, yeah, it has definitely changed, especially like, getting a diagnosis. Like, sort of, you know, recently, I think, I’ve heard a lot of people describe the diagnosis is like a bit of a grieving process. Yes. Yeah. And it definitely has been for me of just thinking about how I view myself and the things that I do and why I do them. And it’s been like really uncovering a lot that I didn’t even realize was going on,

 

Sarah   08:58

I guess. Yes, it’s earth moving. Yeah.

 

Shannon   09:04

Yeah, it’s really, really life changing. And I think the more you kind of read about it, the more you kind of talk to other ADHD people P well the more the more you kind of connect with it and understand it and that that’s been like a huge process for me but then it’s also like I don’t know some of its like with the world situation going on at the same time. Yeah, it’s a light it’s Yeah, and then like, like starting this new studio, it’s like everything at once. So that wouldn’t really yeah.

 

Sarah   09:42

So we’re gonna do like this. Okay, got it. Right. Yeah, that that is a lot to take at once. That’s that’s pretty incredible. So if there are other add ears out there. Financing Do you have Any advice for them? or? Yeah, what kind of stuff has been helping you?

 

Shannon   10:07

I mean, he like specific stuff. That’s been a thing I’ve been introducing more structure, for sure has been really, really helpful. Yeah. And I think, I think before, I like a lot of HD errors, I think, have this mindset of like, chaos and like, and, like, stress, like, structure being a bit like restricting. Yeah. And because we like our freedom, and that, I think, is one of the reasons why, you know, we are more entrepreneurial. And yes, a lot more of us are freelancers.

 

Shannon   10:55

But finding a place for structure has been really, really, really helpful. I’ve not always been successful at it, but I’m just finding a little bit and like, realizing that structure like can give you freedom.

Sarah   11:14

it’s, for me, it’s been kind of like flexible structure.

 

Sarah   11:20

It’s weird, because as soon as I make a structure, if it’s too strict, I’m gonna break it. So it’s like, it’s like structured chaos, I guess.

 

11:29

Yeah.

 

 

Sarah   11:33

Yeah. And it’s way like, I don’t, I don’t know if you’ll run into this. But when I was first diagnosed, which is where you’re at right now is diagnosed like, four or five years ago. At first, it was like, I’ve got to hack, all the things I got. Everything has to be hacked and fixed. And oh, my gosh, and I was obsessed with it. That’s actually how I started blogging about this. And then now, you know, fast forward five years, let’s say, I’m at the point where it’s like, oh, this is who I am, like, I need to really get good. I need to be good with that, you know. And so that, that really, that really jumps out to me that you’re already like thinking like that, and maybe maybe the lockdown has helped with that. But just like, having to look within and be like, what this is mean, about what I was what I thought I was before, who am I now like, like looking into your identity. It’s quite a journey. I it’s been, for me at least just like facing AI. Because you have like the person and then you then you have all these tasks things. And it’s like, it’s two separate issues to be well, it’s all the same. It’s all interconnected. But to me, it was like two fronts to have to deal with.

 

Shannon   12:45

Like, yeah, I know, you mean, like the having to accomplish and do and be in the world. And then like your inner self, or,

 

Sarah   12:57

yeah, and then how that connects to who you are. I don’t know about you. But for me what it sounds like, you’re very career oriented. It I don’t know about you, but for me, what I do accomplish has been a part of my identity for so long that it makes for a very, like, complex situation when you have to kind of face up to some things are like, Oh my gosh, like, I’ve been living for how long and not knowing, you know, my brain works like that. Like, yeah, incredible.

 

Shannon   13:29

Yeah, yeah. No, that’s it. That’s been actually really, like, huge and like contentious in my mind. lately. Yeah. Because it’s like, in on one side, I’m like, Oh, you know, I’ve like accomplished a lot. Having not had any clue that I have this kind of major.

 

Sarah   13:49

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, think of all the things you’ve had to adapt without even knowing right, we’re facing that’s,

 

Shannon   13:58

yeah. And I think a lot of people who are diagnosed like, adults, like have developed a lot of coping strategies that do work for them, just because, you know, you have to otherwise you just

 

Sarah   14:17

Right, right. And

 

Shannon   14:19

so it’s like, it’s been interesting, like reading about ADHD and coping techniques that other people use them like, Oh, well, I already do like, a lot of that. I just didn’t know that. It was like an ADHD specific thing like height. Like I exercise a lot. And I started doing that because of like, depression anxiety, like, yes, not when and I but it was always like, this is so helpful. And now that I know, but the ADHD I’m like, oh, that that explained this way. Boring. Why I needed to like keep this up quite a lot. Right? Yeah, yeah. But then I guess, I guess the other side, the other side of the diagnosis, and like not knowing just like, it’s the more like negative side of like, oh, like, Yes, I’ve done all this without knowing, but it’s like, could I have done more? Or should you start questioning? And that’s been this really kind of weird thing, because I think I was already sort of like, you know, I was going to therapy before the diagnosis, and sort of trying to explore, like, you know, something, I feel like, you probably relate to like, you know, perfectionism and like, having self worth tied up in what you produce what you do in your career, and yeah, sort of coming to the realization that I didn’t want that, to continue as as strongly so that the ADHD diagnosis i think is like, a key part in that that was missing, cuz I always felt like I wasn’t making a lot of progress right there. Um, but in the last few months, things have started to, to shift a little bit.

 

Sarah   16:20

That’s, that’s incredible. It’s amazing how that one missing piece of information can make such a difference for people and yeah, it made a huge difference for me. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s not good walking around feeling like there’s something wrong with you. And no matter what you do, you can’t fix it. And yeah, that’s, um, that’s incredible. So yeah, well, good. Name. Yeah. For me, it just me like I’m just screwed up. What is it hot mess? I’m a hot mess. I’m all that self talk. We always do. I yeah. Yeah. That’s incredible. I mean, to be to be facing this right now. And locked down while you’re starting a business. That’s incredible. So I hope you’re taking time to celebrate at the same time, which is something someone told me the other day, so I’m passing it on to you. I’m gonna celebrate for you that you. I mean, that’s a lot. A lot of amazing things happening in such a short span of time, and especially during lockdown. And oh,

 

Shannon   17:26

yes. I feel like that’s just how it goes like, Mm hmm. I think things don’t happen.

 

Sarah   17:33

Like neat. neatly. Yeah. linear fashion. Yeah, I agree. Yeah. It seems to always be like that. So where can people find you online? If they want to keep up with you?

 

Shannon   17:47

Yeah. Um, so I am on Twitter, and at ADHD designer. And then I also am starting a blog. sort of just about ADHD, and yeah, creative careers and stuff, because it’s something I’ve been talking to a lot of ADHD years, a lot about over the past few months. And so that is going to be ADHD. designer.com. Awesome. And, and then I’ve also got my design studio for that. And contrary studio.com

 

Sarah   18:28

contrary studio.com I love that name. Well, thank you so much, Shannon, for being with us. And I’m looking forward to your blogs. When when do you think they’ll start coming out?

 

Shannon   18:39

Yeah, hopefully soon. I basically waiting for a moment where I’m not like, super busy.

 

Sarah   18:46

Yeah, the work that pays you first.

 

Shannon   18:49

Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s on the list that hopefully I know. So we’re filming this, like, in August. Yeah. Thanksgiving, right. Yeah. So

 

Sarah   19:06

maybe maybe that could be the goal. And I’ll, I’ll shoot your pain when I get it scheduled. So you’ll, you’ll be ready.

 

Shannon   19:16

Yeah, I at least have a happier deadline now.

 

Sarah   19:21

There you go. Thanks. It’ll be sometime after Thanksgiving. So you could just say Thanksgiving. Love it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Shannon. It was so nice to meet you. face to face. I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while and I love ADHD Twitter, and it’s just been so incredible. Okay, well have a good one and I will see you on Twitter. Yeah.

 

Shannon   19:45

Okay. Bye.

 



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