Friend vs Acquaintance

We all know that the definition of a friend is a person who somebody likes, knows and trusts. Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum usually don’t understand the crucial differences between friends and acquaintances. Simply put, a definition of the word “acquaintance” is a person known to one, but usually not a close friend. An acquaintance may be somebody you see at work or school on occasions, but really don’t know anything about. For example, every day at around four in the afternoon, I see a woman walking down my street with her dog, which is a chocolate lab. The only thing I know about this woman is that she has a chocolate lab who she walks down the street everyday. If I ever did get a chance to talk to her, it would probably only be about her dog. I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about anything else with her. In high school, you will have the annoying people who are considered “popular”. They usually hang out with people of similar interests, they consider the twenty or thirty people they hang out with “best friends” when they are either acquaintances or “casual friends”. This entry talks about the differences between an acquaintance and a friend

A casual friend is somebody you may hang around or talk to at events like social gatherings, work or school. If you do hang out with them, you usually don’t share personal information with them. I’ve had trouble with this in the past, I have considered people “real friends” when they really weren’t. I’ve tried “icebreakers” and asked them if they wanted to get together with me when they rejected me. Their response was the typical “no, sorry I’m too busy”. It was obvious that they really were not my friend because they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. I would rather hear somebody tell me they want nothing to do with me then avoid me. When people avoid me it makes me feel that I am a bad person, or that I did something that offended them. I could tell that this person was avoiding me because they didn’t stop and give me a good explanation of why he was busy. Telling me “I’m busy because I have other stuff to do” tells me you really are not busy, you are just trying to get out of being around me. If somebody honestly tells me they want nothing to do with me, I will just move on and find another person to hang out with. I have been avoided by people my entire life, and it really hurts. Like I said, it makes me feel like I am a bad person and that I don’t deserve to have friends.

Sometimes acquaintances do become friends. After they have spent enough time with each other, feel comfortable around each other and trust each other is when a friendship starts to develop. Before you start to consider an acquaintance a friend, there are three things you should ask yourself.

1.) Do they try to keep in contact with you?

A true friend always keeps in contact with you no matter how far apart you are from them. When a friend moves to a different school or goes off to college, they get very busy and don’t have the time to spend with you. I have learned from past experiences with friends that a little contact goes a long way. Writing a letter takes up a lot more time than emailing or instant messaging a person. However, writing a letter really does show a person how much you really care about them. We teenagers from the 21st century should consider ourselves lucky, we have social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget cell phones! Call them as often as you can, even a five minute “how are you doing” call will mean a lot to the person. But, remember that a friend should also make an effort to keep in contact with you every once and a while. When you reach out to a person, you should expect them to reach out to you every now and then.

2.) Do they show interest in being around you?

This is one of the more difficult things to deal with in friendships. The fact is that you can’t be friends with everybody, and you probably will deal with that one person that just doesn’t show interest in being friends with you. Two signs that show a person is not interested in being friends with you is they will make excuses for why they can’t spend time with you, and they will avoid contact with you. One thing to remember about friendships is that you can’t force a person to be friends with you. When they start to make excuses and avoid you is usually a sign that you should move on and find somebody else to be friends with. If somebody doesn’t want to be your friend, it is their problem, not yours. A true friend is somebody who WANTS to spend time with you and who MAKES time to do it. I can understand when they are busy, but when you are in need, a you should expect a friend to help you. If they can’t be there physically, they should make an effort to call you and talk to you about the problem, whatever it may be. A friend must show interest in being around you, and they must show interest in getting to know you and helping you when you are in need.

3.) Are they accepting of you?

One of the characteristics in people that really turn me off is judgmentalism. You read that in my blog titled “what turns me off”. Have you ever been around a friend that gives a stereotype to every single person they see? I can’t stand people who act like that, being a student in high school, I have been around people like that many times. They can’t find anything else to do besides judging and making fun of other people. As I said in my “what turns me off” blog, I am not trying to sound hypocritical, I have caught myself doing this many times before. I’m sure every person has judged someone they don’t even know at least once in their life. As friends grow closer, they will learn what they tolerate and what sets them off. I have said this many times before, a friend is somebody who loves and accepts you for who you are, and won’t ever try to change anything about you. Those kind of friendships only happen once or twice in a lifetime.

I have learned that there are some real great people out there, and not everybody in the whole world is going to try to bring me down and make fun of me. You never know what will happen when you meet a new person, maybe they could end up being your best friend for life. When I first met Aaron, I never thought we would become such good friends. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to have people like him in my life. If it were not for Computing Workshop, I would have never met him. I have one more piece of advice about friendships, when you meet a new friend, just be cool and find out what happens. Don’t be pushy, because that will just draw the friend away from you. If the friendship doesn’t workout, just move on and find someone else. It is a larger world than you think, there are tons of people out there to be friends with. Close friendships are rare, and they take time to develop. Hopefully after reading this, you should have a general idea of who your real friends are and who they aren’t.


Four Important Qualities of A Best Friend (part two)

I wanted to expand on one of my earlier entries titled “Four Important Qualities of A Best Friend”. The qualities I mentioned were honesty, kindness, trustworthiness and sacrifice. Nobody wants to be around someone who is dishonest, unkind, unreliable and lazy. The qualities I mentioned on that blog are just as important as the three I am going to mention on this entry for one main reason, and it is because they all tie in together.These qualities are just as important as the ones I mentioned on my other blog about this topic, and they are in no particular order. I don’t really have that many friends in school, so high school life has been pretty difficult for me. In another one of my other entries I talked about my social anxiety, and how that contributes to why making and keeping friendships is very difficult for me. If I expected these qualities from all of my friends, I would not really have that many. These qualities, and the ones that I mentioned in “part one” are really only expected for close friends.

1.) Humility:

Have you been around a person who always talks about themselves in a conversation? Somebody left a comment on one of my others entries about how they had a friend who had a child that was behind academically. He had a friend that would always complain about how behind their child was, when they would rub it into their face that their child was ahead of his. A definition of humility is the quality of being humble, meaning a person who is not proud or arrogant because they are better than another person, whatever the reason may be. I once had a friend who would rub into my face that his parents would let him get away with things that my parents wouldn’t. He would always tell me that he would get away with looking at bad websites on the internet and watching inappropriate TV shows. I went to his house one day and he offered to watch a movie that was R rated, and I was only in about second or third grade at the time. I told him that I was not allowed to watch an R rated movie without an adult watching it with me. If my parents found out that I was watching that movie, I would have been in trouble. I couldn’t tell you what the name of the movie was, but I do remember it was rated R. I then decided not to hang around this person because he tried to convince me into doing something I wasn’t allowed to do and he would try to rub into my face that he was better than I am because of how different the rules of his house are from mine. He moved shortly after this whole situation, and I decided to lose contact with him. I will repeat myself again, a true friend doesn’t convince you into doing something wrong, or rub into their face about why they think they are better than you. I also can’t stand people that try to rub their religious or political beliefs into my face. Politics and religion are very touchy subjects for many people, and some can be easily offended by the way you say it. People need to learn the phrase “enough is enough”. Parents do not teach that to their kids enough. Kids on the Autistic Spectrum especially don’t understand this because of their lack of social skills.

2.) Uniqueness:

I can’t stand people who don’t want to be friends with me just because I don’t act like a “normal teenager”. The social shunning that I have gotten in high school is the main reason for why people judge me and don’t want to be around me. I have said this before and I will say it again, I don’t ever want to hear from somebody “you should do this because everybody else is doing it”. They judge me because of the fact that I don’t play any sports or that I am not interested in dating. Teenagers often hang out with groups of people with similar interests. These groups are called “cliques”. If you don’t have the same hobby interest as they do, then to them you either don’t exist or are worth absolutely nothing. I think it is good to talk to people who have slightly different personality traits and hobby interests than everybody else in the crowd. It helps to ask them for advice because they can give you a different perspective about the problem. To me, if you constantly avoid somebody because they don’t have the same hobby interests as you might make people think that you are stuck up. It’s good to be different from other people, the people who are different are usually the ones who end up being very successful in life.

3.) Acceptance:

As you already know, I can’t stand “friends” who are judgmental. For example, just because somebody is not like you doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Another thing I can’t stand is when a “friend” doesn’t listen to you when you tell them that whatever they are doing is bothering you. For example, let’s say they are a person who loves to joke around all the time. You laughed along with them until they told a joke that went way too far. You tell them to stop, and they just say “Come on, it was just a joke”. The jokes still continue, until you finally tell them to knock it off. I can say one thing about a situation like this, they are definitely not your friend if they keep doing something you don’t like. A true friend should know when things likes jokes go too far. They should know what gets you pissed off, and they should never do it. Plain and simple. A true friend also does not try to change you, they will love and accept you for the person that you are. They won’t ever push you into doing something you don’t want to do, and they won’t ever try to make you uncomfortable in front of your other friends or their friends. I’ve had “friends” in the past that have done that also, they are obviously not my real friends if they are going to do something like that.

4.) Forgiveness:

Have you ever had a friend that has held a grudge against you for something that was not a big deal, or something you didn’t say or  do at all? A true best friend will forgive you for the mistakes you have made, even the big ones. I can relate to that very well. I once had a friend who I have talked to online and in school for a few months. School eventually let out, and he became busy with his summer job. One night I was text messaging one of my other friends, and I sent it to him by a mistake. It was about thirty minutes past midnight, and it woke him up. The next morning he called me and started throwing a fit at me about it. I explained to him that I didn’t mean to do it, and he just said “whatever”, hung up on me and refused to talk to me. About a week after that, I tried talking to him again and he just told me to “fuck off”. I guess our “friendship” was over after that whole incident. He held a grudge against me for something that was a “little deal” and made a “big deal” about it. That shows just how immature my peers really are. Life is about making mistakes, and people are supposed to learn from them. I guess the only thing I learned from that “friendship” was make sure you send your text messages to the correct person on your contact list. There are obviously better people to be friends with than this kid. A true friend also sticks with you through the good and the bad times. I’ve gone to a few of my friends for a few of my problems, and they then try to avoid me. What kind of a true friend is that? Yes, there maybe is the chance that they haven’t been through a situation like that, but it still makes no sense to avoid the person. I have been ignored by people before, and it is not a good feeling. In school it seems like the only people that ever try to talk to me are the ones who want to make fun of me and bring me down.

I am happy about the fact that I don’t have tons of friends, to keep me happy I only need one or two friends. Quality is better than quantity. Even though I don’t get to see my good friend Aaron that much, I am happy he is going to school to learn skills for what he wants to do. I am really hopeful that he will have a job he will enjoy going to in the future, and that he will remember that his friendship made an impact on my life. When breaks come around, hopefully we will have some time to spend with each other. We don’t have all of the same hobby interests, and I don’t agree with everything he says, but he is still my friend.

Like I said at the beginning, if I expected all of these qualities from every single one of my friends, I probably wouldn’t have them. These qualities are really only important for close friends. You definitely should not consider being good friends with me if you don’t posses these qualities. Friends are what make living your daily life easier. Thank you for reading this and I will be back to write again next weekend!

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Have you ever been dumped by a friend?

The teenage years are supposed to be the “best years of your life”, right? If you recall from my first entry about my experiences in high school, the high school years have been the most miserable time for me. I spent most of my junior high and high school years being ignored, teased and labeled. People really don’t understand how it feels to be ignored and labeled so much. Because of all the labeling and teasing people have given me throughout the years, it has made it very difficult to find that one true friend that wouldn’t ever bring me down and accept me for the kind of person that I am. In elementary school, people really didn’t seem to notice that I was “different” than everybody else. My parents would make arrangements with my friends parents to get together. When the middle school years came along, people started to avoid me and notice that I was different than everybody else. All of the people that I was friends with in elementary school seemed to “forget” about me. Social cliques started to develop, and I was the person that didn’t really fit in with anybody.

If you remember from my blog about ending friendships, I was friends with a kid named Jason in elementary school. During the weekends, we would always go to each others houses, sit and talk to each other during recess and lunchtime and talk on the phone when we had nothing else to do. Junior high then came along, and the social cliques started to develop. The students seemed to start noticing that I was different than everybody else was, which contributed to why they started talking to me rudely and making fun of me behind my back. The first thing I noticed right off the bat when I would talk to him was that he started hanging out with the people that would always label me and spread rumors about me. There were times that I notice when his new friends were around me, they would start making fun of me and spreading rumors about me when I was in the same room as he was. He never really stood up for me when they did it either, he just sat there and ignored the whole thing. The second thing that I noticed happening was when I would try to have a converstaion with him, he would try to keep it as short as he possibly could. When I would ask him questions, he would answer me with only one or two word responses. At first I thought that maybe he was just in a bad mood and didn’t really feel like talking to me, then I started to realize that maybe he wasn’t that interested in being friends with me. I spent the rest of my junior high school years asking the same question “Why would he ignore me and hang out with the students that made fun of me and labeled me?”

As I have mentioned before, people sometimes just don’t show that interest in being friends with you anymore, even when you have been friends with them for a long time. People change, and sometimes it’s for the worse. Since I am no longer at Freeport, I don’t see this person as often as I used to. When I do see this person, I think about how we used to be friends in elementary school and how we would always talk on the phone when we had nothing better to do. I’m glad I don’t have to see this person anymore, because anytime I do the memories of how he dumped me come back and haunt me.

Because of I’ve been set up by friends in the past, I find it very difficult to trust people. When I meet a new person, I tend to worry and think that they might have something against me and try to avoid me, or they might try to make fun of me and make me feel bad about myself. I am happy that I have friends like Aaron from my Computing Workshop summer camp, but I do wish that we had more time to spend with each other. Because of the labeling, teasing and loneliness that I have experienced in high school, I am very exited about graduating. On my I Google page, I have a countdown until the possible date for my high school graduation in 2011. One thing that I have learned from past friendships is that if they don’t want to be my friend, that it is their problem, not mine. That’s the attitude that I will always have with someone that wants nothing to do with me.It may take time to get over a lost friendship, but I will get over it eventually. I wish that people would have that same attitude as me, because it makes no sense to mope about a friendship that ended a long time ago. I will most likely never see these people again after I graduate from high school, so why the hell should I even bother worrying about them? Even though Aaron is busy, I am certain that he is still my good friend. One or two close friends is all I really need, someone left a comment on one of my other blogs that stated “quality is better than quantity”.

I really can’t come up with anything else to say about this, I hope you liked it and I should be back to write again next week!

How can an Aspergers Teen know who their real friends are?

You probably have learned from experiences in my other blogs that my high school years have been a nightmare for me. I was isolated ever since I was in the junior high, I was teased verbally, but I was never physically bullied by anyone. I’m guessing that was because I was taller then everybody else in school, and they thought that I would try to do something to get revenge back at them. During my years at Freeport High School, I was verbally harassed and isolated so much that I didn’t really have that many friends in school. I didn’t really have the skills of making and keeping friends, and because I was bullied so much, I didn’t really have the confidence to reach out to people. When someone would say something to me in the hallway, regardless of whether they were being friendly or mean, I would just walk by and ignore them. I tended to generalize about people, and think that all of them were going to try to do something that would embarrass me, or cause me to be verbally harassed even more. That contributed to my depression and social anxiety quite a bit. I also had trouble understanding who my real friends were, and who my real friends weren’t. In the second paragraph, I will mention a guy named Eric, who I thought was my friend, but turned out not to be.   In the third paragraph, I am going to mention Aaron, who I talked about in my last blog entry.

Eric and I were in the same homeroom together ever since we started junior high. He was in my homeroom since we were in the junior high, and we also went to the same gym together. In eighth grade, he would repeatedly talk about me in front of his friends, he would call me names like f***in retard, and just say tons of other horrible things about me. During freshman year, I had a my space account and he added me as a friend, I accepted, because at the time I assumed that he matured some and grew out of the whole gossip thing. I would chat with him on aim, and he seemed like he was being friendly to me, and not making fun of me. A few months passed by, and I sent him a message asking if he wanted to hang out that weekend. He replied saying something like “I’ll see, maybe.” I sent him a message a few days reminding him about it, and he said “No I can’t, I’m too busy.” A few weeks passed, then I asked him if he wanted to hang out again, then he answered with a flat “no.” After that, I would try to instant message him, and he would either ignore me, or tell me he didn’t want to talk. A month passed, and it was the start of summer going into my sophomore year in high school. I sent him a text message the next morning asking him how we was doing, then he snapped at me and said “you woke me up at twelve forty five last night”. I asked him what he was talking about, then he said that I text messaged him in the middle of the night and it woke him up. I looked in my sent messages, and it said that it was to him. I realized that I meant to send it to somebody else, but I accidentally sent it to him. I told him that I sent it to the wrong contact, and he just said “whatever”, then ignored me. I got angry about it, and started sending nasty messages to him. That obviously wouldn’t make him interested in being my friend, which he wasn’t interested in it when I first started talking to him. It was obvious that he didn’t want to be my friend in the first place, and I shouldn’t have escalated the situation by sending rude comments to him on his phone and his Myspace.

Aaron and I, however went to my summer computer camp program, Computing Workshop. As I mentioned in my last blog, he was a real laid back, and shy type of a guy. I worked with him periodically during the first two summers I was in the workshop, but I never really got to know him. During our summer 2008 program, I got to hang out with him and have some social time with him during the camp. I sat next to him on the couch, and I noticed him pull out his phone. He showed some of the pictures and the ringtones he had on it, then I asked him if I could have his number. He gave it to me, then I gave him my number. I remember after he gave me his cell phone number, he very nicely said “you can call me anytime you want to talk to me.” Going back to Eric, I asked him if I could have his cell phone number, and he made an excuse that said something like “I can’t give you my phone number because I get prank called a lot.” I thought he was joking around at the time, than I later realized that he was trying to avoid me. When I asked him if he wanted to hang out, he would give me answers like “too busy, sorry” or even just a flat “no”. Aaron, on the other hand promised me that we would be able to hang out, and he would explain to me why he didn’t have time to do it. He would not give me general answers like Eric did. This past summer, we did get a chance to hang out. We would go out and buy ice cream, and he also invited me to his house. That was something that nobody has done in a long time, and I am very happy for that.

I have a better understanding now of who is my friend and who is not my friend.  I am better off without people like Eric anyway, so why should I even worry about him? Since I’m not going to Freeport this year, I won’t have to see him in the first place. Like I have said in almost all of my other blogs, I won’t let mean people get to me and bring me down. I won’t let them interfere with what I go to the Lenape VO Tech school for, which is getting training for a job I will enjoy in the future. Also, Eric wasn’t interested in being my friend, so he obviously didn’t appreciate me for the person I really am. What kind of a friend wouldn’t appreciate you for who you are? A quote from Arnold H. Glasgow states that “A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.” A true friend goes out of their way to help you, and does not use other commitments as an excuse to not help you. Aaron is not able to spend time with me all three hundred sixty five days of the year, because he lives about thirty minutes from me. When he tells me that he’s not able to spend time with me, he does a good job explaining why he is busy. After that, I would suggest that you ask them what other day they are going to be available. But remember, if you are in dire need of help with something, be sure to explain that to them. Also, if they say something like “too busy, sorry”, they are obviously not a true friend. A true friend never makes excuses like that.

One more tip to remember, everybody is different. Not every person in the world is going to be your true friend. You might show interests in being their friend, but they won’t show it back to you. If they don’t show interest in being your friend, don’t take it personally, it’s their loss. Best friends are rare, you will only find them once or twice in life. And again, make sure that this person accepts you for who you are. I hope you find this blog informative, and I hope that you will show it to someone who may have trouble making friends in the future.