Adolescence is supposedly a time where the teenager becomes independent from his family and relies more heavily on his friends to make him happy and keep him occupied. Most parents see little of their children as they progress into young adulthood because the child spends a majority of his time with his friends outside of the house. An issue with Asperger’s Syndrome, especially in school breaks such as this week’s, is that friendships, if present, are never normal.
My family has been home together for the entire break. We have not ventured out, save to see “Alice in Wonderland,” and visitors (besides a curious ant infestation) have been non-existant. My sister attributes her abnormal presence in the house to the fact that every single one of her friends is on a tropical island somewhere. However, I have carried on business as I normally do–I sit in the house and watch YouTube or practice instruments. It was not until today when I cured my cabin fever by going to get ice cream with my father that I noticed the prevalence of groups of teenagers. It has not occured to me that I should be spending time with my friends outside of school. Should I?
Most average friendships are successful because each party has a yearning to spend time with the other party. Each party makes a conscious effort to meet whenever possible with the other. My Aspergian friendships work differently. Whenever I need something of a friend or he needs something of me we will communicate. Other than those times, we rarely speak. We are not avoiding each other; we simply do not cross paths. It makes me wonder whether my friendships qualify as friendships at all.
Asperger’s causes me to lack social understanding. Over the years I have defined social relationships in my head by observations, but I am slowly realizing that some of my definitions are incorrect or incomplete. I am also realizing that some terms cannot be defined at all. For a long time I have defined friendship as a friendly communication between two people. If somebody is nice to me, they must be my friend. I have been misled by the phonetic similarities between “friendly” and “friend.” Just because somebody is “friendly” does not make them a “friend.”
So what makes a friend?
Now that my previous definition has been shattered, it is crucial that I discover the correct definition as soon as possible. (I do not fend well with unknown concepts and become frightened by them. If I become frightened by friends I am taking a very large step backwards.) I have already realized that to be a friend, a person should be nice. This creates a wide pool of potential “friends.” To discover what a friend is I must narrow the categories like scientists use taxonomy pyramids to classify animals. The largest segment of the pyramid consists of everybody, and the second-largest segment consists of “People Who are Nice to Me.” I suppose I could narrow the third row down to “People Who I Enjoy Talking To,” but this group is still very broad because people interest me and as long as they are nice and they are interested in talking I will most likely enjoy talking to them. My third column weeds out anybody who is nice to me just because they feel badly for me or pity me or anything like that. I don’t like those people.
I do not know how to categorize any later groups yet because they will ultimately deal with the thoughts of others and it is impossible for me to predict the pattern of these thoughts because it is very hard for me to understand other people. I think I will make it a project for myself to create a pyramid like this. I will let you know when it is completed.