Good evening, everybody. I apologize for posting an article late. I have recently got an apartment of my own and so I’ve been busy with moving and packing, but I digress. I thought this week, I would talk to you all about a subject that is very important to me. That subject is friendships and relationships. For us on the spectrum, having and maintaining a friendship or relationship can be particularly difficult and scary at times. For me, having a friend is a gift that sometimes feels like a luxury that can be hard to afford rather than something that should just be a given. In addition to Asperger’s Syndrome, I suffer from depression and anxiety…in particular, social anxiety. Three of my very favorite works of literature are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Hugo’s The hunchback of Notre Dame, and Gaston Leroux’s The phantom of the opera. The reason these three stories are among my favorites is because in one way or another, I can empathize and even identify with the main characters.
All three of these stories concern a person or creature who’s physical and intellectual disability makes them feel ostracized by society. In Frankenstein, the creature is ostracized and shunned by the human population for the fact that he is considered hideous and terrifying looking. In The hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo: the titular hunchback, has a deformity that isolates him from normal society. Finally in The phantom of the opera…The Phantom, or Erik, is shunned and feared by the normal population because of a hideous facial deformity that makes his face look like a grinning skull. The reason I identify with these three fictional characters is because there is a theme connected to all of them. In each of their stories, their motivations and actions all stem from one desire: the desire to be loved and accepted by others. Now unlike the creature in Frankenstein, I won’t pummel anyone to death. And unlike the phantom, I don’t make it a habit of kidnapping sopranos who I may develop a crush on, hanging stagehands from rafters who insult me, or dropping a chandelier on an audience because I’m angry my demands were rejected. But I still identify with them because even though my disability isn’t physical like theirs, it can still hinder me at times and can sometimes make me feel as though I will never be understood or accepted..or at worse, seen as a freak.
But I have found that that is not the case. I have met people who not only accept me and my disability, but celebrate me for it.
- Jacob Kendall: Jacob has been a true friend to me ever since he and I met in 2016. though he doesn’t share my disability, he accepts me as a brother and treats me like family every day.
- Johnny Hickman: Johnny and I both actually graduated from the same program at TAMU together and we both actually share the same disability. he is an amazing guy and a great christian…as well as hysterical.
- Shelbi Davenport: Shelbi is one of the sweetest people you would ever meet. beautiful on the inside as well as out. Like Johnny, She and I graduated together from the same TAMU program as well.
- Barrett Sawyers: like the other three I have just mentioned, Barrett is the very definition of a true friend. I am truly blessed to have come to know him every since we met each other when staying in the same apartment complex in College Station.
- Zachary Guillory and Katie: I put both of these as one because they are brother and sister. I have been family friends with them for years and even had Katie as my prom date my senior year. Love these two.
- Joseph Linville: Joseph and I met in 2014 when I attended A&M. He is one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever come to meet.
- Whitney Wyatt: I can’t say enough good things about this sweet woman. Her love for others and creative spirit inspires me daily. I met her when we both performed in a show for my community theatre company.
- Margo Staley: this woman is crazy in all of the right ways. She and I met in 2007 when I joined The Art Park Players: my local theatre company
- Austin Montgomery: Austin and I met my sophomore year of high school when we were both in choir. He is an amazing and talented man of god and I am blessed to know him.
- Susan Mele: Susan is actually the owner and founder of the theatre company that I met Margo and Whitney at. She welcomed me with open arms and to this day, I give her credit as the one who instilled a sense of confidence in me. I love her to death.
Now I have so many others I want to list because I am truly blessed by so many wonderful people. If I did, however, I’m afraid we’d be here all night. But these people- as well as others- have accepted me and celebrated me for who I am and I love them all so much for it. For those who are lonely or feeling lonely, let me assure you that you aren’t. I promise you that there are good and compassionate people in this world. All you have to do is look hard enough. I encourage you all to seek out friends. here’s how I did it and my tips.
- Find a group of like minded people who share the same interests as you.
- Seek out someone, at least one person who you know accepts you, and then work from there.
- Join an organization or club you like. You never know who you will meet.
- Try to be more outgoing.
- Be patient and just be a good listener.
- Be understanding of others’ needs.
- Always be kind.
- BE YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!! No one will accept you if you don’t accept the wonderful person you are. Once you learn to realize you are one of God’s own masterpieces and of value, others will see that as well.
I hope this helps. Much love to you all.