My Autistic Experience – The Shadow of Friendship

Before I begin, I would like to extend an invitation to anyone reading to try the challenge that I posted in my previous post. I will post it at the end for your convenience. Remember that it is the mind that considers ideas openly and with suspended judgment that is necessary to come up with effective solutions to the problems of the world. We must think with patience and understanding to develop long-term solutions to complex problems.

In the meantime, let us begin.

Every once in a while, I find myself thinking about the subject of friendship. In these times, I notice that my interactions with people have a certain distant feel to them, something that I find I am having trouble putting to words. As an exercise, I would like to see if I can get to the root of the distance between myself and others.

It is a rather strange and insidious shadow that lurks between myself and those I interact with, for when I am at the moment and talking with people, I don’t notice the distance. It is only when I am left to myself that I occasionally feel distant from others. I sometimes find myself wondering how much of it is real and how much of it is in my head, but I have to imagine that there is something to it.

For while I can make friends and connect with people, I find that it does not lead to long lasting friendships except for one friend that I met while attending UofT. I cannot help but think that this is not normal, that normal people are better able to maintain their friendships than I am. Then again I find myself justifying that it is others who should make an effort to preserve our friendship as well, that I am not the only one who has to work to do so.

Perhaps it isn’t so abnormal at all?

I don’t know. I tend to keep to myself and have a tendency towards being private. I don’t tend to share much about myself unless I am asked about something or unless I believe the information to be relevant to the conversation. It seems fair enough to me, because if someone were to ask me a question I would answer honestly.

Then again, it isn’t as if anyone could just look at me and determine my honesty.

I have also noticed that I don’t like initiating conversations with people unless I have a reason to talk with them. When I think about why this is, I find that I can only speculate. My justifications feel off, as if while I believe them to be true I also find them to be lacking.

I mean I could just say that I don’t like small talk and that I don’t like wasting time when I could just get to the point, and all of that would be true. I only think that to say this does not capture the whole picture. I wonder if perhaps I believe myself to be an imposition on the other person, which by messaging someone I am wasting their time?

It seems like an odd concern now that I think of it, but at the same time I don’t think my habit would change if I were told that I could talk with someone at any time without feeling like I am imposing on them. Maybe it is something else, but I don’t know. Despite my preference for rationality and logic, even I am capable of strange and illogical thought.

I also think it has to do with my preference for talking with people in person. I don’t like talking to people using my phone or through social media unless it is necessary. I enjoy talking to a small group of friends in person, but there is something about the distance of the internet that I do not like. The exception is through programs such as Skype that allow for voice chat, which I suppose is strange since I do not like using my phone.

I don’t know why I am so nitpicky in this regard, but I guess it is just that I am happy in my own company. Since I am glad for my company, I don’t feel that I have to maintain my friendships through distant communication. There are times that I am left feeling cold when others do not occasionally attempt to preserve our friendship, but I should not be speaking from atop my high horse. If I am not nurturing my friendships, I cannot be surprised when my friends do not put in the effort as well.

And so I occasionally think about the shadow of friendship. Then after some time, I sigh and go back to my routine and find myself quite content.

Here is the challenge that I posted on my previous post “More Than Just A Label.” Feel free to attempt it again. If you are comfortable with sharing, tell me how it goes. I am always happy to discuss ideas.

  1. Come up with a list of qualities about yourself or ideas that you have obtained from your worldly experience (at least three qualities and/or ideas). They should be things that you can control to some extent. Features such as gender, skin color, mental health conditions, and other such do not count. I want to know the ideas and skills you have that make you interesting and unique. Tell me who you are and not what you are.
  2. List an idea that you have that you consider to be obviously true and show me that you can be open to the idea that it could be false. Listen to arguments from people on the other side of the argument. If you post one of these arguments, do your best to represent the case accurately so that your counter-argument will be valid and not an attack against a straw-man. You do not have to change your mind at the end, but you should at the very least be open to the possibility that you could be wrong. I’d also be interested in your thought process. “I considered the possibility that I was wrong about this subject, and when I did I thought ______.” Show me that you have the mark of an educated mind. Show me that you can consider the side of others and that you are open to the possibility of being wrong, even if in the end you believe you are still right.

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