Magaly Sandoval and Leaning Into Your Curiosity

Magaly is a mechatronics engineer turned marketing manager who moved from Costa Rica to the United States seven years ago to become a skydiver. She achieved remarkable success, medaling at the world championships. However, the post-podium thrill faded, prompting Magaly to shift gears by changing careers and adopting new interests.

Magaly Sandoval’s lifelong relationship with ADHD began in childhood when she was diagnosed at a young age. Despite excelling academically, her impulsivity, difficulty with social situations, and rapid task completion with missed instructions signaled her ADHD challenges. As she matured, Magaly recognized the profound impact of ADHD on various aspects of her life, including bouncing between hobbies and jobs, facing academic struggles, and navigating personal relationships. 

This realization served as a wake-up call, prompting her to embrace a slowed-down life focused on continuous learning, such as exploring languages and training her puppy. Magaly acknowledges the positive aspects of her ever-changing pursuits, highlighting the valuable skills she gains with each new endeavor, contributing to her ongoing journey toward a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

Refocused, Together is a collection of 31 stories told throughout the 31 days of October, a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss a single story this month!

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Magaly Sandoval (00:00):

For people with ADHD, I think as long as we’re passionate about something you might have to find someone that is really good at math simultaneously, fantastic about fun facts about the Lord of the Rings and likes to work on their car on the weekends. And you’re just really, really, really good at this variety of activities. And the pain for me is that one day those go away. But the takeaway is that every piece of hobby that I’ve had builds into the next activity that I’m going to do.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:40):

You are listening to Refocus Together and this is episode 29, Magaly Sandoval and Leaning into Your Curiosity. Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host Lindsay Guentzel, and if you’ve been listening to Refocused for any length of time, you know that ADHD is incredibly complex. And how it shows up in our lives, well, that changes from person to person too. That’s why we created Refocus Together, the special series that explores the lives of 31 very different ADHDers. We started this project last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness month. And we are over the moon that we’ve been able to add another incredible collection of stories this year as well. You’ve just heard from our next guest, Magaly Sandoval. Magaly is a mechatronics engineer turned marketing manager who has led a very fascinating life. Born and raised in Costa Rica, she moved to the United States seven years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a skydiver.


And after competing in skydiving for years and ultimately meddling in the world championships, she found herself bored. Those first few jumps after landing on the podium didn’t hold the same excitement as they had before she’d accomplished her goal. So Magaly did what maybe ADHDer might do, she changed jobs and took up a new hobby. Magaly’s journey with ADHD started when she was a child. She was diagnosed with ADHD at six or seven years old after her parents noticed she would do things differently than other kids. She was an A+ student and would finish activities faster than everyone else. But she would often miss key instructions, sometimes entire pages of math problems or test questions. Magaly’s behavior and actions were sometimes interpreted as rude. And she struggled with impulse control, making friends and adjusting to social situations. She went to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a neurologist and they all came back with the same diagnosis. She had ADHD.


It wasn’t until she was older that Magaly realized the impact ADHD had on her life. She grew up knowing ADHD would make her forget where she put her keys, that it was the reason she would interrupt people when they were speaking. But she didn’t make the connection until she was an adult. That bouncing from hobby to hobby and job to job was also her ADHD. That repeatedly failing university classes and the end of a marriage was also ADHD. That the feeling of insecurity, bouts of depression and a lack of connection with others was also ADHD. It was a sobering wake-up call when she realized her ADHD went much deeper than she thought. Today, Magaly finds comfort and happiness in learning new things like languages and training her new puppy. She’s also learning to love living a slowed down life, one full of time with her pets, getting outdoors as much as possible and taking care of the monotonous tasks around her home.


Magaly’s tried all the hobbies and they all have that same shutoff switch. But there are some positives that come from trying something new, loving it for a while and moving on. Every hobby builds upon the next and teaches her skills she can take with her, like active listening, setting boundaries and learning to advocate for herself. It’s a continuous work in progress and it’s helping her live a more peaceful life. Let’s hear more from Magaly about her journey with ADHD, how chasing her dreams as a skydiver scratched her adventurous itch, while also teaching her to be more self-aware. And how learning to pivot always comes with a perk. And with that, let’s meet our next guest for Refocus Together 2023, Magaly Sandoval.


All of the Refocus Together interviews start with the same question which is, when were you diagnosed with ADHD and what was that process like for you? And then if you remember, what were some of the things that kind of led to you seeking out those answers to begin with?

Magaly Sandoval (05:23):

I was diagnosed when I was six or seven years old. My parents supervised the entire diagnosis, which is part of the reason that it took me so long in life to realize the impact that this had in my life because at the time, the three specialists that I got taken to explained this to my parents but nobody explained it to me. So my parents are well-informed of the A DHD and I for the longest time didn’t really know how it impacted my life. Some of the areas that my parents noticed, and my mom is a kindergarten teacher so she was observant for a lot of things that I did differently, as I always finished every activity that I was handed to way faster than everybody else. And it was either perfect or completely miss something. They didn’t entirely read that there was an entire page in the test, things like that, or there was a part B of the question but her A was impeccable.


So there were these little hints here and there, and I think my parents were okay-ish with that because I was still A+ student. What triggered them to start taking me to specialists is that I was blatantly rude. I had zero impulse control. If people would tell me like, “Oh, does this shirt make me look bad.” “Yeah, you look horrible.” So I struggled a lot making friends, I struggle a lot making friends, and that lack of impulse control had me taken to a psychologist, psychiatrist and neurologist when I was a child and all of them came back with the same diagnosis that I had ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:05):

You mentioned that it took a while for you to understand the impact ADHD had on you because as a kid everyone was talking to the adults around you. When you were able to kind of put those puzzle pieces together, what connections were you able to make that you could see as an adult about that time as a kid?

Magaly Sandoval (07:24):

So my really, really good friend that I hike all the time, got a diagnosis as an adult probably seven years ago. And we go on this long eight to 12 hour hikes, and as they started sharing their experiences with me like, “Oh, this has impacted my marriage, my depression, my hobbies, the way that I struggle making friends.” And It really dawned on me like, oh, they’re talking about everything that I’ve felt through my life. During those conversations, not only inquiring more with them but then I started doing some side reading and some side research. And realizing that a lot of the even insecurities I had in my life of why do I struggle so much to make personal connections were way deeper than I realized. I grew up with the concept that my ADHD was just, I forgot where I put my keys or occasionally I interrupted somebody when they were speaking. That was the depth of what I knew.


And then I started going back to I really struggle making close personal connections. I struggle with depression, I move from hobby to hobby. I even changed quite a bit in my career path, which was an actual concern my manager had when she hired me. She’s like, “You’ve been changing jobs every two years, why should I hire you?” So a lot of things that were shaped and woven into my life started calming too late with this diagnosis of my friend.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:54):

Do you remember anything about growing up and how your ADHD affected you in the education system? And I ask because you mentioned some of the things that you remember when you were very young and some of the things that stood out to your parents. But you also, and I know this because of how we found you on LinkedIn, have had an incredible career. And yes, you may have some career hopping, which we all tend to have when we have ADHD, myself included, but you’re very driven and you have high expectations for yourself. And so I’m wondering if you can dive into a little bit of what that was like for you knowing you had ADHD, but still being so driven towards those goals.

Magaly Sandoval (09:32):

There’s definitely a before and after in my life. So I grew up in Latin America and it is very common for middle class families to send their kids to private schools. So I went to a private school and I was very babysat through my education, so I was enabled to have teachers that would dedicate one-on-one time with me or even just the way that classes were taught. So I was creme de la creme of students, I was always top A, my parents were so happy. I was like the student always giving speeches and stuff. And when I came to university, I went to a public school and I was not babysat and suddenly I was failing my classes. I repeated courses, I struggled so much and even my self-esteem was destroyed because I had 18 years thinking that I was the last chip in the bag. And suddenly I come to realize, oh, I wasn’t all that smart.


I was just really, really nourished. And fitting down to study by myself was incredibly hard. So I would say that I realized that the educational system that had brought me up through high school, did not set me up for success to learn by myself. And even though it is really, really nice for somebody to hold your hand the entire time, it is also important to help you create habits to learn by yourself, which my degree was something that you should finish in five years and it took me seven years. There was a class that I failed so much that they changed the addition of the book while I was taking the class. So it was really, really challenging.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:23):

I’ve never heard anyone explain it that way, using the word babysitting. That you were babysat and that makes a lot of sense. I have so many connections to your story, especially with the structure. And I loved the line you used saying that you were really nourished, you were really taken care of. And then you were expected to just transition to this role where you were supposed to be able to do it all by yourself, but at some point you obviously put the pieces together of what you needed. And I’m wondering what you realized you had to change in order to find success both in the educational system and then in your career path.

Magaly Sandoval (12:00):

I think a lot of it is for me about finding passion for something I love, pretty sure that everybody, both with ADHD and not without. As long as you are passionate about something, it’s really easy to learn. So let’s go to this class that I failed. I think I failed this class six times if we included the times that I just tried to test it out. I hated it. It was boring. It was terrible for me. And some of those things I wouldn’t say that like, “Oh, I excelled.” I just pushed through. I did the most out of me, but it was the bare minimum to pass the class even though it was 350% of me. My grades didn’t definitely reflect the level of effort that I was putting into this class, but I was putting a lot out of me. Now in the areas that I am interested in, it was always smooth sailing. And my degree is in Mechatronics, which means that I know both mechanical and electronics.


I always joked that I said that I was really good at electronics and I was really, really bad at the mecha. Everything that was mechanics, I just came with this attitude that was terrible. So to answer your question though, I knew that to set myself for success I had to follow what I liked. That it is incredibly hard for me, borderline impossible to push through something that I am not interested. If I am not interested, it is doomed to fail. And there are some things in life that I can’t choose. There are some things like washing dishes that I cannot choose to not be bored by it because it must be done. So for things like that, for day-to-day activities or parts of my job that I can’t do it, I just have to take a deep breath and all this has to be done and just suck it up.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:58):

You are kind of an anomaly in the ADHD space right now, especially for women because you were diagnosed as a child and so many women were missed. When you look at your ADHD and keeping in mind you have an entire lifetime to look at how it has affected you, but right now in the day-to-day space, where are you seeing the most negative effects? And then I’m wondering what you do to kind of combat those.

Magaly Sandoval (14:26):

I feel like my day-to-day, I am always juggling 15 balls and some of them are crystal balls and some of there are just tennis balls. I’m just juggling all the things. Most days I am amazing, like Cirque de Soleil is just waiting to come and find me because I am juggling nonstop. I have four pets and I’m training my dog and I’m handling a super demanding high-tech marketing job. And I have a house to handle and it’s just moving, moving, moving. But when something happens that I was not expecting it, and it has to be something big, if it’s like, oh, this little thing, it’s okay. I just wiggled. Okay, I’m still juggling. But every now and then something unexpected happens and it could be something as simple as the way that somebody phrased to me something on my job, and then I slow down and then I drop a ball and then I drop another ball and then the crystal ball falls and then I get paralyzed.


That is actually something that happened to me last Friday when a coworker changed the north that we were heading to. They were like, “Oh, we are not shooting for this. We’re going to be shooting for that.” And I was like, dead said, “We’re heading this way. We’re not going that way.” And balls falling, balls falling, cracking, flashing everything behind me. It took me probably four days to realize that he wasn’t even changing the route. He was just suggesting to change the route, but it got it to me and I didn’t eat dinner that night. I sat down and watched a whole marathon of five hours of Sex in the City. On Saturday I was scrolling through LinkedIn, I’m just going to change jobs. And then my brain started working again like, oh, okay. I would say one of my struggles is that I am either 150% the ship is running the most efficient or I am underwater under the sheets, like this is the end.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:30):

And you see it while it’s happening because obviously in the moment you know that you are responding to this moment of dropping balls, of feeling like everything’s kind of been pulled out from under you. And the problem is the paralyzation, it’s hard to get back on track. And how have you figured out how to do that after the Sex in the City marathons and the mindless scrolling? Because I feel like we all have those moments of being just in the pocket of enough’s enough. And I laughed at the scrolling for a new job because that is so relatable. It makes total sense. You would just move on to something else instead of addressing what probably isn’t even a problem, but is something that in your head you have created to be a problem.

Magaly Sandoval (17:18):

I’m going to give a little bit of background to answer this. As a skydiver, I would always get terrified on the first jump of the day. My heart was pumping, my hands were sweating, and it always went through this reflection process for me to realize what was I afraid of and naming my fear. And I did skydiving for what, seven years? Like I mentioned, I’m doing something else because I got bored. But it did allow me to familiarize with what are my bodily and mental state when I’m afraid. I became really just cognizant of how I react when something is affecting me emotionally that way. And I also grew my feeling vocabulary. So was I terrified or was I scared? Was I anxious or was I petrified? So these are different ranges of feelings. One of the things as I was watching my Sex in the City marathon and not really eating and then just eating for lunch the following day, reheated mac and cheese, I knew the entire time what was affecting me.


I knew the entire time what triggered me to feel this way because it was in the background of my head the whole time. And I did one of those same reflections that I did with skydiving that I probably just asking myself the five why’s. And this is very common in business to understand what is a failure point of a product, but in this case I am my own product so I will do the same five why’s for myself. Like, why did that bother me and why is that a problem? And by the fifth why… And I’m like I do conscious answers to those five why’s. I don’t move to the next one until I get a really good answer. By the time I got to the fifth one, I realized I was overreacting. By the fifth one I had paused and I breezed. And then I looked at all the disaster around me and I prioritized, okay, maybe some of those balls I didn’t need to be juggling.


Maybe I didn’t need to trim my dog nails today, she will be okay tomorrow if I don’t… She will be okay next week if I don’t trim her nails today. What should I do? I should probably clean the kitchen, that is something that I should definitely do. Should I go and rebar the terrace? No, that was not that important. So I think I go back to prioritizing the things, and the same thing would be at my job. I think we chatted offline a bit about this but I handle a ridiculous amount of products. And when I get requested to do something, in this case the news from Friday, I went back to, “Well, this can wait until Tuesday.” Because at the time I wanted to send an email and set up a meeting and we should talk this more and like yada yada, this can wait.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:21):

I have also found that taking a breath after something frustrates me or surprises me or throws me off, is very important because then I will stop reacting in that moment. And that is crucial because the person who’s going to react in the moment, that Lindsay that shows up is not the Lindsay that I want those people seeing. But it’s hard because in that moment you’re like, “Oh yes, let me fire off this email.” And so I love that you have realized that you need to ask yourself those questions and you get to a point as you’re asking them where you go, “Ah, yes, I’m okay. This is going to be okay.” You mentioned all of the things that you’re juggling, all of the balls, the tennis balls, the crystal balls that are up in the air. So when you look at your life and all of the stuff that you have going on, where do you see yourself thriving? What is going right for you right now that you are really excited about

Magaly Sandoval (21:16):

Learning new things, I feel like that’s just a perpetual circle of as long as I’m learning something, I am thriving and it could be whatever. In the midst of my five-hour marathon of Sex in the City, I was also learning Japanese. So it makes me feel good. That was my comfort thing. Maybe some people would have tea, maybe some people would binge on ice cream. My comfort thing is I need to learn something. Where do I see myself thriving right now? I would say that continuing to learn about the products that I handle for work, they’re so incredibly ridiculously technical that I find that really fascinating. It’s really nerd of me. And this new puppy that I have right behind me right now. I am teaching him how to behave in the world, new tricks and stuff and just seeing it shape itself, work itself like today I introduced this and the following day I can see it really click on him.


So I guess learning together really excites me. Now, I cannot promise you that in three years this will be the same answer. What I do know that it is a common thing through my life and my career, is that as long as I keep myself learning something, I am happy.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:34):

Dog training is the new exciting thing in your life, but you also mentioned skydiving and I want to go back to that because that takes a certain level of fearlessness. How did that get started and what did you learn about yourself doing that for so long and going to the level that you did with it. And then having that moment where you’re like, “Yep, I am done with this for right now and I’m going to move on.”

Magaly Sandoval (23:01):

I’ve tried every hobby that any human being can possibly try. I’ve sort of come from knitting, mountain biking, playing the guitar, and every single time the switch has shut off within a month, a week, a day. Hopefully everybody who has ADHD in this podcast will understand that switch that I’m talking about. You just wake up one day and you’re just, nope, it’s just not a thing anymore. With skydiving, I was coming out from a bad divorce and I was going through clinical depression. In the process I found an ad that said that you can go skydive solo. And I went and did a jump by myself, and at the time that meant something important for me. I don’t want to do this accompanied. I took a class and I did my first jump solo and if I could share the video with you, it looked terrible.


Even professional skydivers who look at that video today and they go like, “How are you alive?” It was really, really, really bad. And I think it goes back to that switch on me of learning that I was really frustrated that I couldn’t do it. And I was like, “Oh, I can do this again.” So I got myself into a little bit of a depth and that impulse control of mine took power of me, and it actually helped me recover through this depression that I was going on. But also got me really, really addicted to the feeling of endorphins in a way. People say that we’re adrenaline junkies, but nobody likes adrenaline, adrenaline that makes you feel bad, endorphins make you feel really good. So jumping out of an airplane did it for me. I never felt those normal fear that I think would people correlate skydiving with. My fear was more related to performance.


Am I going to do the right exit? Am I going to perform the tech marks to get my license properly in this jump? And I got better each time. And I think that was just motivating for me. I realized that I was good at it. I got in this rabbit hole skydiving. I hit all the goals that I was thinking, and I had this one last goal that was making a podium in a world championship and we made that. And one month after hitting that podium, I made another skydive and I didn’t feel it. From there on I think it was two years that I made a net amount of 30 jumps when I was averaging 200 jumps a year, and I made 10 15 in two years. And I was leaving the airplane thinking, what are we getting for lunch? That’s when I knew the switch was off.


Now, I had built such a big community within the skydiving community that… And this has been my longest hobby. Every other hobby that I’ve had had lasted three or four years tops. But this one was very difficult for me to leave behind because I had such a big community that was part of me. And I realized also that as soon as I left the sport, that I didn’t have this much in common with these people anymore. So back to my friendship struggling making, I decided to jump into something else and that something else was my dog. Now I have two.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:28):

I mentioned the LinkedIn article, which is how we found you. And it is titled Being an Engineer with ADHD, Five Superpowers that you Should Let Shine, and we’ll share that in the show notes for you to check out. But number three, you mentioned a word I had never heard before and I’m hoping you can explain it and then explain how it shows up in your life. And that’s polymath. And I’ve read the article, but I’m just going to let you kind of take it from here because after reading through it and seeing this, I was like, oh my goodness. And coming off of you telling the story about falling into skydiving and then being done with it and moving on to dog training, it feels like the perfect time to kind of add this in.

Magaly Sandoval (27:06):

Well, for me polygraph is that you can excel in a variety of activities. And for people with ADHD, I think as long as we’re passionate about something, you might have to find someone that is really good at math simultaneously, fantastic about fun facts about the Lord of the Rings and likes to work on their car on the weekends. And you’re just really, really, really good at this variety of activities. And the pain for me is that one day those go away, but the takeaway is that every piece of hobby that I’ve had builds into the next activity that I’m going to do. And I think that’s part of the areas that makes me as a professional shine in certain areas. I would say my team building skills and organizing a lot of teenager skydivers who just wanted to go smoke weed. And making them wake up at 6:00 AM because we had to go train for a jump has actually improved my leadership skills at work, because maybe I’m not dealing with those personalities but I am dealing with personalities.


So a lot of the little things that I do all build up to the next thing. So I feel like something we all share. And I’ll go back to my hiking friend who is also starting their work in airplanes and they descend out of helicopters to rescue people. And they’re in the army and they hike and they are getting their masters. So I feel like this is something that we share, that we have a variety of interests. And sometimes we can summon from those interests on the activity that we find in front of us at the time. I would be like, I’m training my dog and I need a tool that needs this. Oh, I’ve used this exact same mechanism in this other sport. I can go and retrieve from that magic tool of other things to do this activity that I’m doing. And I don’t see those walls that perhaps other people might have because everything is so cross pollinated in my head.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:22):

You’re in a unique position because for a lot of people, their hobbies like you said with skydiving, your focus was on your performance. Now you are working with animals and as much as we love to think that we have control over them, there are times where they don’t listen to us. I have too a dog and a cat and I like to think that I’m in charge, but really they both just run the house and we are just visitors in our own home, to be honest. How do you manage those feelings that might come up in a moment with an animal when you want it to do something and it’s not doing exactly what you want, and some of the frustrations that can come up in those immediate moments?

Magaly Sandoval (30:03):

I have been thinking about a different whole other skill that I’ve developed and I feel like through animal handling, it has come to me. And one of the struggles that I talked earlier has been my consistent struggle with making deep connections and I’ve been reading and practicing quite a bit active listening. And just in general, be interested in what you are telling me. And right now what you’re doing with me, you catch something and you build on that, this is deep active listening. With my pet, I realized that I had to do the same thing and it actually has made me an easier to be around person with other people because I’ve become more in tune with their feelings. So I can’t control my animal, but I can build a bond to be super exciting for her because I know that I regularly become a source of her needs, of her fun, of their fun I guess in particular.


I go hiking off leash quite a bit with a herding dog that everybody that I knew told me, you will not be able to hike off leash with these dogs. They have just painted ears. And because of the bond that I was able to build with her, I will trust her even if a squirrel shows up, juggling roasted chicken in front of her, and if I call her back, I know she will choose me because of the bond that we have. But that didn’t happen overnight. So I think this active listening that I started developing with my pets has also started spreading elsewhere to the point that my mom has been telling me in the past few years that I have suddenly become somebody that she can actually talk to.

Lindsay Guentzel (31:52):

Well, what a wonderful thing for you to develop in something that you’re so passionate about. And for it to happen without you even knowing, but then to be able to realize it. I think for a lot of us we grow, but until we realize it and then accept it, and I know that that’s a really hard thing for some of us with ADHD to accept that sometimes we do grow and sometimes we are good at things. And sometimes, like your mother said, we can change and we aren’t always our own biggest cheerleader.

Magaly Sandoval (32:22):

And one of the things that I’ve also started learning was in Visco backs to the pets as well, I advocate so much for them. I don’t put them in situations that I know that they’re not going to shine in. I said I go hiking off leash quite a bit with her, but one of my dogs actually gets nervous around other dogs. So I set her up for success. We start hiking at 5:00 AM. We don’t go to the most popular trail at 10:00 AM in the nicest day of the year because I know she will not perform there. And in the same manner I started learning to advocate for myself, and this is a continuous work in progress with things like setting up boundaries for myself. I used to feel very left out as a child because I saw everybody had groups of friends, but I wasn’t part of it.


People have WhatsApp groups, but I’m not part of them. And over time it really hit me. That was way before I realized the depth that the ADHD had in my life. And it took me a while to realize like, oh, I’m just really, really different about certain things. And I keep putting myself just like my dog in situations that I don’t shine as a person. I hate parties, I do not like parties. I find them really, really overwhelming and I kept putting myself into the situations and they wouldn’t see who I was either. So they wouldn’t like me because I was not likable then. So starting to advocate for myself and when people asked me to do something that I don’t want to do, then just be really polite and I would prefer if we can do X or Y or have fun, tell me how it goes. I’m going to stay here and watch Sex in the City and learn Japanese.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:07):

You have so much going on in life and I imagine that some of the things that we’ve talked about fit into this category. But when you look to the future, what is really exciting for you and what is something that you are looking forward to?

Magaly Sandoval (34:18):

Short future, I really want to start competing in agility with my dog. That’s something I grew up watching on Animal Planet as a child. So the idea to put myself there with my dog to compete, that’s one of the reasons that we got a new puppy because he is just bred to perform, whereas my other girl like I said, she suffers more of anxiety so it is really unfair to compete with her. But I’m really excited to get this guy in the ring. I would say that that’s short term. And longterm, we moved to this countryside house. So I feel like just a lot of really adult home projects that I have in mind like, oh, we’d like to have a fence and I would like to fix this. So my plans have become much more mundane in a way, but everything that I have been setting myself to give me peace. And I think maybe that would be the ultimate goal, I want to be at peace.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:19):

That’s a beautiful goal to have and I think it’s something that comes with age. I know for me, I thought I was going to be exactly who I was supposed to be in my 20s. I was going to have my dream career because you watch TV and you watch movies and you read books and there’s 23-year olds getting their dream job and you’re just like, “Yes, that is exactly what happens.” And then you get out into life and you realize that that happens for one in a million and normally they have a foot in the door to help get them there. And so once I realized that age really is just a number and that we can have whatever we want in life at any given time. And peace feels like a lovely thing to be looking for, but it also feels like something that someone looks for when they have done a lot and now they’re looking to kind of just have some time to themselves.

Magaly Sandoval (36:11):

When I was in university, I thought that my dream career at the time was going to be heading towards being the minister of science in my country. And I really wanted to have this really impactful job that would help a lot of people, and that was something that I was always setting myself for. And I wouldn’t say that that dream is entirely shaken off my life. I do think about going back home to Costa Rica one day and doing something. I don’t know what something is yet, but I think about it. But over time I realized that I found equal joy in… I think I became aware that I can’t feed the world but I can feed those around me. So that same feeling of making people’s life better near me and just doing small things that I can control. I would get really, really sad watching wildlife documentaries.


Instead of that, I’d be like, “Well, what can I do better? Where can I cut plastic use my house?” So my boyfriend makes fun of me because I wash my teeth with this plastic less pills and he says that they taste terrible, but it makes me feel good. I had this high dreams of being this important figure, and I have had opportunities in which I could have taken my life to become that important figure. But I realized that the things I would sacrifice of my personal life and to hit those things would impact that ultimate peace. I would probably not be at home as much anymore, which really doesn’t make me give any time with my pets and my pets are so much for me.


So at the time I thought I was going to travel the world and now I travel in the car with all these creatures. So all these plans of visiting the world, I wouldn’t even say that they’re done forever, they just paused. I’m like, this stage right now is called peace, and perhaps the following one is just going to be chaos in Malaysia but it’ll be fine. Right now, I’m living in peace.

Lindsay Guentzel (38:15):

The last thing I ask every guest is when you look at ADHD and what the general population knows and thinks of it, what is something that you wish that they understood better?

Magaly Sandoval (38:26):

ADHD is not an adjective. I encounter a lot of people that they would misplace something and they’ll look at me and they’ll be like, “Oh, I’m so ADD today.” And it really bothers me. And I try to educate them most as I can, but really sometimes you got to let them go. But I don’t go around… I don’t know, feeling tired and looking at people, “Oh, that was so diabetic of me.” It is woven into every single interaction that I have with people with my career, with what I ate that day. It is an intrinsic part of who I am and it’s way beyond I don’t know where my car keys are, which currently I don’t know where they are. It’s way, way, way beyond that. And I feel like if I could have something that people understood better about ADHD, is that it’s part of our core beings.


And whether it makes us sometimes superpowers, like those five things that I shared and it makes me appear really successful to my friends, it also makes me crush really, really hard. And it’s part of my depression and it is part of my insecurity with friendships. So where I fly the highest, I always crash the lowest as well. So it’s way beyond I don’t know where my car keys are.

Lindsay Guentzel (39:57):

You are not the only person who has said that answer this season on Refocus Together, but it needs to be reemphasized over and over again because we still hear it and we’re going to continue to still hear it. And the problem is, you are spot on, it is so much bigger than I don’t know where my car keys are. And that’s what I love about these interviews, is we get to highlight just how impactful ADHD can be on a person’s life, in good ways, in bad ways, and everywhere in between. And I’m just so grateful that we were able to connect. You have such an interesting story. I love the fact that you went from skydiving to dog training and I’m hopeful that we’ll connect in a few years. You mentioned in three years, you’re not sure if this will still be your hobby but we’ll get to find out. And I’m just so grateful that we got to share your story on Refocus Together. Thank you for being here.

Magaly Sandoval (40:46):

Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed this deeply.

Lindsay Guentzel (40:55):

One of the goals of Refocus Together was to share as many diverse stories as possible. I think it’s safe to say that adding a skydiver to the list definitely ups the ante. Getting to chat with Magaly made me think about so many things. The first and probably the most important, is that the ADHD brain is amazing. ADHDers often have a very unique perspective on the world. We tend to be more creative and think outside the box compared to our neuro-typical friends and colleagues. And that means we often have more innovative ideas and solutions to problems others may not have considered us. ADHDers often have high levels of energy and enthusiasm, which can be contagious and inspiring to others. We are passionate about our interests and can become experts in our fields because of our intense focus on the topic. That’s right. We jump from hobby to hobby, not for people to constantly give us a hard time about it or to keep whatever store that sells our interest azure in business, we do it to satisfy our curiosity and our voracious appetite to learn.


We want to do all the things. And most of the time the biggest problem we face is not having enough time to do it all. I can’t help but think that if everyone would just let us explore and learn in the ways we wanted, regardless of how chaotic or sporadic our interests might be, I bet there’d be a lot less shame around the ADHD on, off interest switch that so many people seem to have a problem with. Speaking of hobbies, here’s an idea, someone should start a mail back recycling service for ADHDers with new and gently used hobby supplies that they want to unload. You can call it Hobby Hopper Supply Swap or Hyper-Focus Recycling. Take it, run with it, invite us to the grand opening. Oh, and it might be smart to add in a grief counseling aspect for all of us who have a hard time letting go of our hobbies, even the ones we seem to have given up.


Chatting with Magaly also reminded me that even though the ADHD brain has some amazing qualities, it’s also important to recognize the challenges that come with having ADHD. It isn’t always a walk in the park. For many of us, ADHD brings up some really challenging hurdles in life. And while it’s super important to focus on the positive, pretending the hard stuff doesn’t exist that doesn’t help any of us. Being honest about our experiences also opens us up to finding the right treatment and support, which is a huge part in helping people with ADHD learn to manage their symptoms and ultimately thrive in their personal and professional lives. Magaly is not the first person we’ve heard from during Refocus Together who was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, but not totally looped in about it. Letting a child know about their ADHD diagnosis can help them understand that their struggles are real. And that there are reasons for the difficulties they’re dealing with in life.


Being a kid is incredibly hard, but having this information, it can provide a sense of relief and validation, which can help them feel less alone in their experiences. I’m not a parent, but I’ve spent enough time around kids to confidently say they are incredibly smart and intuitive, more so than we ever give them credit for. And they deserve a seat at the table when discussing something that is such a big part of their little worlds. Here are three tips for grownups to keep in mind when working to get a child with ADHD involved in their own treatment. The first tip is to educate. This can help kids feel more in control of a situation that can typically feel very out of control. It’s important for a kid to understand what ADHD is, how it affects them, and how it can be treated. And it’s even more important to use age appropriate language and visuals or videos to do this.


Keeping in mind as they grow and change, their ADHD is also going to grow and change. So think of having these conversations at the same rate as you change out their clothes. The second tip is to encourage, let them ask questions about their treatment and express their needs and concerns to their doctor or therapist. Not only does this play a huge part in their personal growth development and acceptance of their ADHD, it also helps them build their self-confidence as well as a sense of self-advocacy. And we are all about doing that as young of an age as possible. The final tip is to engage. Whenever possible, involve children in decisions about their treatment, ask them how it feels for them. For extra motivation, let them choose which activities they want for their treatment plan and then revisit things after a period of time. Your kiddo might love the one-on-one attention they get from a specialist at school, but they hate the attention that comes from being called out in the middle of class.


Talking about this gives you the opportunity to find a walk around, like leaving during a regularly scheduled break time or going straight from lunch. Remember, kids need to feel empowered. An easy way to do that is to recognize and reward their efforts. It’s a crucial part of helping them feel in control of their ADHD, because as we all know now that we’re adults, positive reinforcement builds self-esteem and is encouraging during tough times. With patience and support, kids can learn to manage their ADHD symptoms and lead happy, fulfilling, confident lives. It was such a joy to chat with Magaly and to meet her puppy, a very good boy, after we wrapped up the interview. Her tenacity and curious spirit is so energizing, and I hope if you are someone who has felt shame for being a Hobby Hopper or who has felt embarrassed anytime someone’s made comments about your next endeavor, raising my hand very high over here, I hope hearing Magaly’s story has helped ease some of the frustration and sadness that it has caused you.


I have a lot of grief over what I was made to think was wasted time. All those hobbies, all those side hustles, it’s a completely different story when you look back at it through lenses of growth. What I know now, I could only know if I had gone through all that. We have just two episodes remaining in this year’s Refocus Together, which means it’s a great time for you to go back and make sure you’ve checked off every single one leading up to this point. We’ve shared an incredible collection of ADHD stories with you, and I am so grateful to each and every one of our guests for being so open and candid about their journeys with ADHD. To learn more about Refocus Together, head to a adhdonline.com/refocus together. And if you haven’t already, it would mean so much to us if you would head over to whatever streaming platform you’re listening to us on right now and leave us five stars or a nice little comment about why you love Refocused. You can also reach out to the show directly through email, [email protected] or on Instagram @Refocus Pod.


Support for Refocused comes from our partner, ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans. To learn how they can help you on your journey, head to ADHDonline.com. And remember to use the promo code, Refocused 20 to receive $20 off your ADHD online assessment right now. The biggest thanks go out to our team at ADHD Online, Keith Boswell, Suzanne Spruitt, Melanie Meryl, Claudia Gatti, and Tricia [inaudible 00:49:24] for their constant support in helping make Refocused Together happen. These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor Sarah Platinitus, our production coordinator, Phil Rodman, social media specialist and editor Al Chaplin and me, the host and executive producer of Refocused, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online at Refocus Pod. And you can email the show directly, [email protected]. That’s [email protected].

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