Why Did People Avoid Me?


Everybody in the world needs at least one close friend. We all need that friend who will stick up for you when somebody is mistreating you and that will always be there in time of need, whatever it may be. In life, I have never really had that one person that I could consider a “true friend”. I have been through a real sad and depressing time in high school and I have never understood why people didn’t want to be friends with me. There have been days where I have come home crying because I didn’t have friends. As a result of that, I became severely depressed and anxious. If you remember my blog titled “Honesty Is Different Than Diplomacy” it talked about the word “tact”. A definition of the word “tact” simply is “a keen sense of what to say or do without giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult people and situations”. The word “diplomacy” simply meant “tact and skill in dealing with people”. Many children with Asperger’s want to make friends, but they don’t have the understanding of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate when trying to establish any kind of social relationship with someone. I wanted to write about some of the experiences I’ve had with people and I wanted to write about some of the things I have done with friends in the past that have caused them to not want to be around me. I hope that after reading this, people realize the things I have done, and that you won’t make those same mistakes.

I’m sure people have dealt with that one friend who treats you like you’re an unpaid servant. This friend is always bossy, and they want things to go their way. If things don’t go their way, they get very angry and uncooperative. In my opinion, these are the most difficult people to deal with. For example, you and a few friends decide to go to a movie, but one person wants to go see a different movie. That one friend argues and argues with you until everybody gives in and see’s the movie the friend wants to see. Nobody enjoys the movie because they are so irritated with the friend that argued and argued with them. As another example, at the Computing Workshop summer camp we went on a field trip, and at the time we ate at the LaRoche College cafeteria for lunch everyday. The group wanted to find a fast restaurant in town so we could get back in time for the afternoon class periods to start. We had a student that did not want to do that, so instead of going with the flow and doing what everybody else wanted to do he decided to throw his water bottle on the floor, swear and throw a temper tantrum at everybody. We eventually decided to give in and hurry back to the cafeteria before they closed it for the day. We luckily made it back on time, we had only twenty minutes to eat our lunch, and we could have had plenty of time to eat if we found somewhere to eat in Pittsburgh. The fact is, when you are out with a group of people, and you don’t want to do something everybody else wants to do, you sometimes have to just suck it up and do what they want to do. We never took this student on any field trips for the rest of the summer because of his behavior.

One thing that I have caught myself doing, which has also caused friends to not want to be around me is expecting too much from them. On an Autism forum website a few weeks ago, a teenager was complaining about a friend ignoring his messages. He mentioned that he had a friend in school that he would text message a lot, but he would become frustrated about his friends not replying to every single text message he would send. In the post, his tone sounded very demanding. It pretty much sounded like “I expect my friends to reply to me when I text message them, I don’t care if it takes them a few hours to text me back, I just want them to reply”. If this person wants to keep his friend, he should not make demands like that. Doing so can make the friend feel like you are a burden to be around. Nobody wants to be around someone who acts like a burden. I agree that it is upsetting when friends don’t keep in touch as often as you would like them to, but sometimes they just don’t have the time to do it. I used to get very upset about this and feel that every time a friend does not answer messages that they have something against me. I try to be cool when I am around my friends, because if I act pushy they will definitely start avoiding me.

This brings me to my next topic, which is jealousy. You may think it is stupid to write about, but I have dealt with people who are jealous of me for many reasons. These were the people who tried to convince me they were trying to be my friend when they really weren’t. I am good at making PowerPoint presentations, and I have done many school projects with the program in the past. Most of the PowerPoint projects I have done in school are group projects, and I was usually the one that was in charge of doing the PowerPoint presentation. People realized my ability to do PowerPoint presentations like that, and they would take advantage of me and make me do most of the work. When the teacher was not around, most of my group members would sit and socialize with their friends instead of helping me work on the project. When the teacher would come in the classroom, they would sit there and pretend to do be working. When I would add a slide background they didn’t like, or a font they didn’t like they would rudely tell me how much they didn’t like it and to change it to something else. I talked to the teacher about it the next day, and he gave the group members the typical “do your work” lecture. They were pretty angry that I complained to the teacher about how rude they have been to me, they then proceeded to yelling at me and telling me what to do throughout the project. After that, I had enough and asked the teacher to give me an alternate independent assignment. I got full credit for the assignment, and I never had to work with those people again. Another funny thing about this was that they asked me to sit with them at lunch one day, and I simply said “no”. They then asked me “But we thought you were our friend”. It was obvious they were not my friend because of how they took advantage of me, and they knew how disrespectfully they treated me.

I am not trying to blame everything on other people, I have caught myself being jealous of people many times. Some of the people who I have gotten jealous of were my close friends. One or two of them do have girlfriends, and there have been times where it seemed like they were spending more time with the girl and her friends instead of with me. I started becoming extremely angry and jealous when I would hang around them. The anger then turned into sadness, I can remember asking myself “why are they spending more time with the girl and her friends instead of with me?” I asked my counselor and my parents about it, and they both told me to talk to them. I did exactly what they told me, but I said it in a tone of voice that was not appropriate or friendly. I made the mistake of saying incredibly rude and inappropriate things about their girlfriends. They then proceeded to walking away from me, and that was the last time I ever heard from them. Going back to my blog about Honesty, I was honest, but I said it in a crude and inappropriate way that caused me to lose my good friends. The words “tact” and “diplomacy” never existed in my world then. I could have changed the way I talked to my friends about the situation, I could have politely and sincerely told them my feelings, and that I am upset that they never spent time with me. I don’t think I should have been that jealous of them in the first place, if they spent more time with me instead of their girlfriends, their girlfriends would be jealous and upset. I should have waited a few days, then talked to them in private about it. I didn’t do that either. As soon as I found out they were dating the girls and hanging out with their friends, I got angry and overreacted to the situation. Like I said, I said some things about their girlfriends that were pretty mean and inappropriate, but I am not going to talk about it on here. Just because a friend gets into a relationship with somebody doesn’t always mean they are going to drift away from you and forget about you. They still liked me, but I just had trouble dealing with the change. I should have just accepted the change and stayed friends with them.

To sum things up, I now understand why many people avoided me in the past. Every mistake I make will help me become a better person, because I learn not to do it again. I learned not to treat a friend like an unpaid employee, expect to much from them, or be jealous of them. I realize that will cause people to avoid me and not like me. If I didn’t get the opportunity to meet my friend Aaron, I probably would not be the person I am now. I would still be the depressed, unhappy person that John Elder Robison was as he described in his book. Hopefully all the school work he is doing right now will pay off and give him a job he will like. I am proud of him for that. Anybody enjoys seeing their good friend succeed. I will learn more social skills as I grow older, and they will hopefully make me become a very successful person. Hopefully after reading this, you will not make the mistakes I made. Life is about making mistakes and learning from them. I thank you for reading this, and I will be back to write next week!

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My experiences with Social Anxiety


Gossip, rumors and labels are the things that all teenagers have to deal with. Most of the gossip and rumors about people are not even true, and the people spreading them usually don’t know what they are talking about. The labels I get are extremely hurtful as well, such as loner and reject. If you think what you have been going through during your teenage years is bad, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, Depression and Social Anxiety. In school, people have always given me the nasty labels such as “loner” and “outsider”. People seem to think that I don’t want social interaction with people and that I want to be alone, when that is not true at all. I really do want social interaction with people, but people don’t want social interaction with me because of the labels and gossip people have that spread about me.

My social anxiety started when I was in seventh grade at the Freeport area Junior High School. Everyone in the school grew up from the adorable little kids they were in elementary school to snobbish, immature junior high students. This was the year “social cliques” started to develop and gossip, and it seemed like gossip and rumors spread even more than any cold or flu bug. As soon as a person got detention or suspension, it spread around the entire school. The reason for why this gossip spread around so much is because of how small the junior high really is, it can only fit about 200 students total. Those were also the years that people started to notice that I was different than everybody else, I had odd interests in things like fire drills and school buses, and I did not have the confidence or the skills to reach out to people and talk to them. Because of this, I was one of the most frequent targets of bullying and gossip. When I would try to reach out to people, they would either sit there and ignore me or speak to me rudely and tell me not to sit with them. It seemed like anytime I would try to open up to somebody, they would avoid me and make fun of me for no reason. Most of the social cliques in junior high were only into making crude adult humor jokes and making fun of people that did not act just like them. One particular incident was in eighth grade at our end of the year field trip. If you remember the student name Eric who I mentioned in my other blogs, this was the incident that really triggered my social anxiety when interacting with my peers in school. We went on a cruise on one of the Gateway Clipper fleets in Pittsburgh, and it was a dinner and dance that was held in the evening. Since I didn’t really have a group of friends to sit with, I sat alone. I remember I got up to get my food for the dinner, then I sat down to eat. Right after I sat down I heard Eric say a real nasty comment about me. I heard it loud and clear over the loud music that was playing, and that comment really upset me for the rest of the night. I am not going to mention what he said on here, but it was a very ignorant thing for somebody to say to a person that he was a classmate with. I got so upset by the comment that I couldn’t really focus on eating my food, then I just got up and sat on a chair outside and cried about it. I figured that telling on him would cause him to talk rudely about me even more or he could even start saying rude things directly to me,

My social anxiety worsened when I finished eighth grade and became a freshman in high school. Because I was no longer the highest grade in the school and didn’t really know anybody there, I became so tense and nervous. It was very intimidating for me because everybody was older thanĀ  me, and they were all in their own social clique of friends. Most of the upperclassmen were your typical freshman haters, and they all had absolutely no interest in associating with people like me because they were in their own “little group” of friends. I knew that Freeport is a rather small high school, but it seemed a lot bigger to me because it was a new environment with new people. In junior high I had a difficulty understanding who was my friend and who was not. I was “set up” and tricked by people many times. When I started high school it was very difficult for me to move on from those experiences and make a fresh new start. I had this generalization that everybody was bad and that everybody has something against me, which I still do now. I am working on getting rid of it, but it is very difficult for me because of all of my past experiences with people. Many people tend to think that social anxiety and depression is something that you can just “snap out” of, when it is not. People who suffer with it now will suffer with it for the rest of their lives. Yes, there are medications they can take, but they can sometimes worsen their symptoms.

I have gotten help for my symptoms, but social interaction with people is still a very difficult thing for me. I am not one for talking on the phone with people, even when they are close friends. In the rare times that I have called my friends, I feel that they will have something against me and try to avoid me. When I give them invitations over the phone, I tend to fear that they will not want to be around me and make excuses for why they want nothing to do with me. I especially have difficulty dealing with that, being avoided by people really hurts someone that has been through it countless times. I also worry that it might be the wrong time to call and they will get angry at me and avoid me in the future. Yes, I realize the phone etiquette rules, such as don’t call after nine o’clock, and two call attempts during the day is enough.

I also used to fear being around peers in public places other than school. I have seen my enemies in public places like the mall and the local grocery store before, and I try to avoid talking to them as much as I can. I don’t really have a problem around adults, but its peers that I really get uncomfortable around. When I see other teenagers whispering to their friends, even when they are people I don’t even know, I tend to fear that they are whispering about me, even though that most likely is not true. I still have the tendency to worry about things like this even though a few people in my high school have started rumors about me. When I talk to someone that I consider close friends, I tend to worry and think that they change and all of a sudden have something against me. I realize that change in a person is something that occurs overtime, and it doesn’t happen in just a few days or weeks.

I disagree with a lot of the therapists that work with people with depression and anxiety who think that pushing them to the limit and shoving therapy down their throat will cause them to magically “come out of their shell”. I have mentioned such a person before, and his name was Mike. I don’t think that he is bad at what he does for a living, but I disagree that overwhelming them and trying to change who they are will cause them to learn social skills and get through their depression and Anxiety. I think that his therapy would work for some people, but not for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety.

One thing I wish is that people were not so judgmental about me when they first met me, I don’t try to avoid new people when I meet them, I just tense up and get nervous. Because of this people tend to think that I am stuck up and don’t really want to be around them. I have also been around ignorant people who make rude jokes about people with these kind of mental disorders, and that is totally uncalled for. I think the world needs a zero tolerance policy towards that, but unfortunately that is not going to happen. Individuals with these disorders are teased all the time, and it sadly is not going to stop. But when you are around me I will not stand for it. To me, making fun of somebody for something they can’t control is totally inappropriate in any situation. You can bet that I will tell you that I don’t like what you are doing, and that it is uncalled for and needs to stop. I get very angry when I see comedy shows on TV make fun of people like this, even if it is “just a joke”. It is sad that there are ignorant people in this world that do things like this, but unfortunately it happens everywhere. I hope you got some idea of the things I experienced with my Anxiety, and I hope that you will take this into consideration when you see someone who may exhibit some of these behaviors. The next time you think about judging somebody, think about some of the things that this person may be going through. Be helpful to them instead of making fun of them and judging them.