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Hakuna matata: ‘a wonderful phrase’ for students with ADHD

A problem-free philosophy for young adults with ADHD.

Hakuna matata: ‘a wonderful phrase’ for students with ADHD

Have you ever felt defeated after working on a project that you just didn’t finish perfectly? I was recently working on an essay—I drafted it, proofed it, and submitted it for review—and was so excited that I finished it and so proud of what I had done. I knew I was going to get an A.


The result wasn’t what I’d expected. When the review came back, I was absolutely devastated—there were so many corrections and I hadn’t even answered the question posed in one section of the essay. I felt crushed. I didn’t want to write the essay again, but I persevered and submitted it for a second review. I told myself that if it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth it. It came back with a bunch of corrections again and this time I wasn’t only crushed, I felt frozen. I couldn’t submit it as is. My professor was going to think I was an idiot—or so I thought. Instead of submitting the essay I gave up and shelved it. I wasn’t able to move forward.


No worries, no academic overwhelm


Students meeting on college campus

Later on, I mentioned what happened to a friend. She reminded me that sometimes things aren’t going to be perfect. Sometimes when we’re working on a project, we’ll get distracted or miss a piece of the puzzle. Sometimes it can take a little more effort to get where you’re going. She said that ‘giving up’ should never be in my vocabulary. Instead of giving up or becoming overwhelmed, she reminded me of the wisdom from Disney’s The Lion King! 


I couldn’t imagine where she was going with that, but she started to sing: ‘Hakuna matata, what a wonderful phrase; hakuna matata ain’t no passing craze! It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy…’ She then went on to explain that coming down on yourself for things that don’t go the way you plan never helps anyone. Instead, doing this only holds you back from your dreams and destiny. She encouraged me to trade in perfection for hakuna matata.


Eliminating perfectionism takes the pressure off


It was like a light bulb went off in my head! I was putting too much pressure on myself. She reminded me that when I start to feel overwhelmed about things being perfect, that instead I need to say ‘no worries’ or ‘hakuna matata’ and let the pressure go so that I can put my eye back on the prize. It’s not the end of the world for things not to be perfect—sometimes a B is just as good as an A. My work doesn’t have to be perfect 100% of the time—I’m not even perfect 100% of the time, and that’s okay. I felt like I got my life back.


Communicating with my professor


I went to my professor and explained what happened. He encouraged me to submit what I had and to let him grade it to see what grade I would’ve received. It was an A-! He awarded me half credit for the assignment and encouraged me to not withhold work in the future because you never know how it will turn out. So, when things aren’t perfect, just say hakuna matata and keep striving toward your dream—you might just be surprised with the outcome!

Thrivister Academic Coach

Nicole’s approach to coaching is one of collaboration—she helps her students identify which areas they can grow in, teaches them actionable strategies for success, and cheers them on every step of the way. With a master’s in health & wellness and life coach certification, Nicole has been coaching students for seven years and loves to see her students thrive on their academic journey.

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