Joseph Goldin Doing It All Thanks to ADHD

By Kayla M. Burson on April 9, 2013
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Nimble and graceful, his skilled hands manipulate the purple ball that floats over his steady fingers and swoops down the back of one hand before it flies to the other.  It seems like magic, but a deeper look reveals the secret—hard work, skill, and illusion.  The same sharpened perspective is essential to understand the young man performing the sleight of hand, Joseph Goldin.

Goldin, aware of his hands at all times, tosses, catches, and fidgets with juggling balls or a Rubik’s cube while listening intently in his classes at Hampshire College.  His energetic and spirited character shines on the surface, most prominently by the strands of black hair that slide down his neck and back.  This wavy rattail has been growing behind him since he was five.  However, there is much more to Goldin than what is visible.  He often hides the rest of his thick black hair, cut short in a typical male style, beneath hats of all sorts—fedoras, newsboy hats, baseball caps, those winter hats with the ear flaps.  However, beneath his luscious locks is a boisterous mind brimming with knowledge and possibilities.

Monotony and routine are words that would never describe Goldin’s life.  This freshman has been used to living away from his home in New York, where he grew up with a younger sister and two moms, since attending Marvelwood High School, a boarding school in Kent, Connecticut.  His experiences at Marvelwood helped him to learn how to optimize his time while still living in the moment—Goldin’s favorite place to be.  If he feels inclined, Goldin will wake up to do homework or meditate, and those will be the only still moments of the day.  After, he may toss around 3, 4, or 5 balls: throwing, catching, dropping, juggling; increase his brain’s capacity with memory tricks like memorizing poems, numbers, stories; attend classes where he writes and speaks while juggling or twisting (and solving) a Rubik’s cube; engage in his extracurricular activities including Ultimate Frisbee, Circus Folk Unite!, Rock-climbing, Blacksmithing, Unicycling, Juggling, and Salsa Rueda and Tango dancing, and even continuing his vivacious life when he goes home for breaks since he proudly wears his brown belt while training in Karate and swings on the traveling rings at Riverside Park in Manhattan.

Most students barely have time to attend classes and join one club or team without cursing the sun as it sets, but Goldin manages to be an active member of seven extracurriculars, while still doing well in school, to which Natalie Sowell, professor of Goldin’s Storytelling as Performance class at Hampshire College, can attest.

“Joseph is energetically engaged.  He’s present…Our class is 3 hours, and he seems to be there the whole time.”

So how does Goldin maintain the energy required to do all these things?

“I have extra bottles of energy I can unleash,” Goldin admits.  “I have ADHD.”

Most people see Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an obstacle.  It’s a disorder—the name itself suggests confusion; but, Goldin sees it as a blessing.  He has the energy to do just about anything which, according to him, allows him to “dabble in all of it.”  Of course, it does have its downside.  In his traditional style classes, like Intro to Writing, he has trouble focusing because he cannot play with objects nor bounce nor fidget because the whole class sits on couches, and his movements will ripple through the fabric and disturb everyone else.  It’s also a challenge for him when it comes to reading because he is dyslexic and needs to slow down, but the rest of him wants to speed up.  But these “obstacles” have introduced opportunities.  Because of his dyslexia, Goldin found a passion for audiobooks.  “I’ve probably listened to over 1,000 books,” he admitted.  Listening to these stories is what led him to take Sowell’s Storytelling as Performance class, which he loves.  On the other hand, his ADHD has not only allowed Goldin to join a plethora of clubs, but it excites him to focus on things he is passionate about; for example, he is considering the idea of pursuing studies in anthropology, education, and psychology because plasticity of children’s brains fascinates him.  He can see himself working with children, teaching them how to juggle and meditate rather than exposing them to technology, which he believes is detrimental to their brains.

Goldin seems to have a focus and determination to succeed that many students lack, even if his approach is less than traditional.  He wants to study in the Shaolin Temple in China.  At this temple, he would start his day at 5:30AM, and it wouldn’t end until at least 7:30PM.  Throughout the day, he would meditate, practice Kung Fu, and take language classes in Mandarin.  Not many other people have the dedication it takes to focus and practice in all of these disciplines, and it becomes obvious that Goldin’s ADHD actually is the positive.

In addition, Goldin is not the only person who sees his energy as a great thing.  “Joseph reminds me of a chocolate lab,” Walker Staples, a classmate and fellow Circus Folk Unite! club member said.  Circus Folk Unite! is a club for any energetic student to have fun and learn basic circus skills like juggling, unicycling, acrobatics, etc., but even so, Goldin’s energy exceeds many other members’.  “I can connect with him at a level of energy I can’t normally connect with other people…he meets me at my own enthusiasm level, which is rare.”

Goldin is indeed a rare individual, but Hampshire College has helped him grow and feel like he fits in.  “Here [Hampshire College], I’m normal; everyone is weird here…I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself.”  After this comment, Goldin began flapping his arms in the air and made loud sound effects with his voice and tongue.  “See,” he began “no one even looked.”

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Kayla M. Burson graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts cum laude in May of 2013. Her concentration was in English Literature, Psychology and Spanish. She is the Marketing Assistant for ISD, a scholarly book distribution company in Bristol, CT, but she isn't quite ready to put Uloop and college life behind her. She mostly writes about campus life and will pretend she is still a student as long as she can!

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