“Why Don’t You Find Friends Your Own Age”?

One of the most popular Autism websites out there is one called Wrongplanet.net. The website is an online community for people on the Autism Spectrum. It was first founded in the year 2004 by George Mason University student Alex Plank. The title of this blog is identically named after a post from a user on the “Social Skills and Making Friends” forum. I feel this user’s pain, Adults have asked me  this irritating question many times. You most likely can tell from my other fifty-three blog posts that I was not satisfied with the experiences with my peers from Freeport. My last post talked about the meaning of the word “cool” and how it is often misinterpreted with the word “popular”. According to Freeport standards, I wasn’t considered “cool”, nor was I the least bit interested in becoming “popular”. Most of my so-called “normal” peers from that school were mainly interested in things like dating the opposite sex, going to school dances or parties, or competitive team sports. I didn’t have the confidence to ask anyone out on a date, the interest to associate with my classmates at social events, enough hand eye coordination the hand eye coordination to play competitive team sports.

I did try to sit with a few people at lunch, but they would avoid being around me with the lame excuse “I saved this seat for somebody”. If I would try to interact with somebody at school, they would either ignore me, laugh at me or talk about me behind my back. Because of this, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with anybody in school, regardless of whether or not they were a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. As a matter of fact, most of my real friends have previously graduated from high school or were high school students from another district. Growing up, I was often seen playing with kids that were not necessarily in my age group. I would often play with the kids in my neighborhood during my elementary school days, and they were kindergarten and preschool age. One might find it odd to see a fourth grader hanging out with kindergarten and preschool age kids.

My parents would always try to encourage me to ask for my classmates phone numbers, but I didn’t really have the nerve to do so. During my older elementary school years (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) my classmates started noticing I was different from everybody else and would start ridiculing me when teachers were not around. The kids in my neighborhood were the complete opposite, they didn’t realize I was different and they didn’t try to make fun of me. My parents were not too crazy about me spending time with them so often. This is when they would say “Derek, you need to find some friends that are in your age group. It is weird that you hang out with the little kids in the neighborhood”

During my freshman and sophomore year at Freeport, both my teachers and my classmates enjoyed using threatening and scaring tactics when they would tell me about college. They would cook up stories like: “College is hell, you have to do so much work. My cousin (name) dropped out because he couldn’t handle the work load”. Many people at Freeport and Lenape (myself included) have complained about teachers nagging them because their work is not done. I have heard from many people that one of the crucial differences between a high school teacher and a college professor is they will not nag you about getting your work done. You are always expected to do it, and you could wind up in academic probation or get kicked out. While that statement may be true, there will still be people who will become intimidated by that and decide not to pursue any post secondary education.

When I started hanging out with my good friend Aaron from the Computing Workshop, he didn’t know that much about me. I was comfortable about opening up to him because it was a safe environment for me to make a social relationship with somebody. In high school, it seemed like they knew absolutely everything about you. When they see you hang out with your “clique”, they immediately give you labels. People threw labels like “retard”, “sociopath”, “psychopath”, “loser” and “freak”. At Freeport, I decided it would be better off not to hang out with anybody because I didn’t want a label thrown at me. I became so sick of the labeling and gossip I didn’t really care about anybody or anything that went on in school. There are still people who give labels at Lenape, but I eventually learned to ignore them because that is not what I went there for. I went there because I wanted to learn the basic skills I will need for a career in Electro Optics.

If Aaron was a student at Freeport, I most likely would not have the confidence to open up to him. I was afraid to open up to anybody my age because I had the fear they would make fun of me and make my life miserable. While I have overcome many obstacles in life (related to connecting with people), I am still very nervous about what the future will hold for me. I am happy that the staff members at Computing Workshop and the teachers at Lenape Tech have been very encouraging about my future, I still don’t know what it will hold. That is one of the reasons I think senior year will be stressful. You never know what college is really going to be like.

To wrap things up, I have been around many confusing and upsetting situations with people my age.  I think it is easier to communicate with people older than me because of that. There is a slight possibility that my attitude about this will change when I grow older, but this is how I feel about people my age right now. That won’t happen until I finally meet that one person who will accept me for who I am and not misjudge me or try to change me. I just have to keep trying to find somebody who will be willing to do that. I hope Aaron and I will stay friends for a long time. If it were not for him, I don’t think I would have even made it this far in life. It doesn’t matter what age your friends are, it matters if they really like you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I will be back soon!


3 thoughts on ““Why Don’t You Find Friends Your Own Age”?

  1. Your definitly right… It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter about what age your friends are. It only matters if a friend likes you and accepts you for who you are… awesome blog post

  2. Very good blog Derek. Friendship is an elusive thing. It is likely not a decision you make, it is a growth thing. As you become familiar with a person and you begin to pick up on things you have in common, then each time you see them you build on those past encounters, enjoy some more commonality, and bit by bit a friendship grows from this. You will find yourself looking forward to the next time you meet to exchange more ideas, etc., and will even begin to MAKE opportunity to see each other again (like telephoning or texting on days or portions of days when you will not be coming in contact with each other). You don’t need to always be selling yourself to someone–it will just happen as you share your life (thoughts, plans, dreams etc.) What you would probably need to be actively doing toward this is making yourself available–just casually talk with someone who is around at school or wherever, and pick up on that encounter with another encounter with them at another time soon–talk some more, share some more stuff, etc. Then, if there is a possibility that the two of you have enough in common, you will be growing a friendship–making opportunity to talk with and hang out with each other. It won’t seem like friendship at first–you may not even be interested, but be open to listening to the other person a lot and picking up on what they say. You may become interested. Asking someone about themselves and then being genuinely interested in what they have to say is a good way to get that person to want to talk to you. Congrats on having Aaron for a friend. I bet he’s a nice guy.

  3. Pingback: Good Friend vs. True Friend « Dwarren57's Blog

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