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!

What turns me off (part 2)

I realize that the world is not a perfect place, and I realize that every person has their own quirks, but I wanted to talk about four more types of people who I can’t stand being around. If you remember from my part one blog, I mentioned five characteristics that I can’t stand about people, and they were self centered, easily distracted, nosy, pessimistic and touchy feely. The funny thing is that kids with Asperger’s Syndrome do show all of those characteristics, including the ones I am going to mention on this blog. There are people like this everywhere, and best way to deal with them is to avoid being around them as much as possible. Like I said in my first blog about this, I am not purposely trying to offend you, it’s just that there are people who do this all the time, and many of them don’t even realize that they are doing it, and that they don’t understand that these characteristic are what draw people away from you.

1.) Bossy people:

No matter where you go in the world, there will be people who are (in my opinion) the most difficult to deal with, and they are the bossy ones. No matter what the situation is, they will always try to tell you what to do. They always like to think that they are in control and they run the show. They are most likely the ones that don’t have that many friends because nobody wants to be around them. If you remember from my last blog, I talked about one of the students in my electronics class at Lenape Tech. We were working on the windmill that is going to power the greenhouse for Lenape’s Natural Resources Technology class. The teacher picked a few students and asked them to move some cinder blocks and put them in the large pile that was outside the greenhouse. They already had about five students that were helping, and I didn’t think that they needed anymore. Anyway, the student lashed out at me and said “Derek, get off your ass and help us move these blocks”. I simply refused and told him that he doesn’t have the right to stand there and tell me what to do. The only thing I recommend you do with people like this is to just sit there and ignore them. Being bossed around by people really makes a person’s anxiety level high, and makes their self esteem very low. I will always refuse to work with anyone who stands there and orders me around. I don’t know anybody that enjoys being around those kind of people.

2.) Cockiness:

There are people like this everywhere you go, the overconfident arrogant ones that are not really worth anything. One characteristic that cocky people display is self-centeredness. They are full of themselves and they seem to enjoy bringing another person down to make them feel bad. If you are not like them, they will either ignore you and pretend you don’t exist, or they will find something rude and derogatory to say about you just to make them look cool in-front of the crowd. High school and college are the places where you will experience these kind of people the most, but there are plenty of them out in the real world as well. I have three possible suggestions for dealing with someone like this, and they are all different. If this person is treating other people rudely and not you, I recommend just sitting there and pretending they aren’t there.

I’ve had to listen to these people ever since I started junior high, and when you hear them say such nasty things you just want to punch them in the face, right? Second, if they do say anything to you, I recommend that you either use humor or make a cocky comment back. If you love vocabulary, I recommend that you use big words so that you will confuse them. This very well could make them realize how stupid they are. Using violence will only cause the situation to escalate, and you will be the one that gets in trouble. I’ve made that same mistake. During my sophomore year in high school, I was in Freeport’s TV Production crew. I was working on camera, I accidentally bumped the camera when we were taping the morning announcements for the next day. The director, who was a senior blurted out “Derek, what the fuck is your problem”? I then had it with people talking to me rudely and pushing me around, so I threw the headset I was using on the floor and sat down. Luckily, it didn’t hit the floor hard enough and it didn’t cause any damage to the equipment. I refuse to work with anybody who is going to talk to me that disrespectfully. Anyone who shows disrespect toward me will get disrespected back, it’s as simple as that.

3.) Dishonest people

If you remember my blog titled “Four Important Qualities of  A Best Friend”, I had honesty as one of them. Not telling the truth is a very bad thing to do, and people will most likely find out if you don’t. They might not find out right away, but they will eventually. When I am a truly friends with someone, I tell them like it is. I do that because I want them to listen to me and know that I care about them. A true friend listens to another person’s feelings, and they are honest and tell you the truth when they talk to you. For example, if I had a friend that was going to a party where there were illegal drugs, I would want them to listen to me and I would try to convince them into not going to the party. Teenagers often don’t think before they do something, and sometimes their actions can get them into trouble with the law. I also can’t stand people that lie constantly, and when they know you can tell that they are lying. There are two thing that can make a person think you are lying, they are their tone of voice and their facial expressions. A lot of times when you ask them a question, they will nervously answer and use filler words such as uh, um and like. Their facial expressions will look nervous, and they will try to convince you that they are telling the truth when they really are not. The only piece of advice I can give to you about liars is to never trust them for anything whatsoever.

4.) Judgmental people:

Every single person on this whole planet is different, which is a very good thing. If everybody in the world was the same, Earth would be a pretty boring planet to live on. I want to ask you one question, when you see a person that demonstrates odd behaviors, what are the first things that go through your mind? If you go back to my last blog that talked about how social isolation hurt me when I was in school, I wanted to be alone during recess and lunch. I really hated the fact that people were not like me, and that they always made judgmental comments toward me. People automatically assume that when they see someone who sits alone that they want to be away from people and that they want to stay in their own little world. You never know what is going through that person’s mind when you first see them, maybe they have been mistreated by people and are afraid to open up to them, just like I am. Judgmental people are the ones that want to give every single person a stereotype. It is very rude to judge somebody for their habits, whatever they may be. For example, if I had a friend that was a drug addict or an alcoholic, I would want to try my best to help them with their problem, and to accept them for who they are. Drugs and alcohol are very difficult habits to break, and they can take years before they become clean. I have been around people like that many times, and it makes you feel very sick inside listening to some of the things that people say. High school and college are not the only places where you will find these people, they are just about everywhere you go. Parents need to teach their kids to not be judgmental about people and to respect and accept them for who they are. They need to teach them to help their friends with their habits, whatever they may be.

Before I go, I wanted to say one thing. I am not trying to sound hypocritical in this blog, I have caught myself doing all four of these things. Every single person in the world has done at least one of these things when they are around people, and they are just afraid to be honest and admit it. Think about how these characteristics can cause people to run away from you instead of be around you.

Thank you very much for reading this, and I will be back for another entry next weekend!

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