Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friends.

Hey Ya'll. What's up? How's life going?

It's the same old same old here. You know. Living in Kyrgyzstan.
This is Kyrgyzstan


So, in Kyrgyzstan there are these things called Marshutkas. They are like super tiny buses. And usually they are filled like clown cars.  LIKE CLOWN CARS.


Which is funny, until you have to ride one.

Did I mention that I'll be here for the next 9 months? 

Marshutkas, they aren't airconditioned.

So riding a marshutka is like riding a sensory overload mobile.


SENSORY OVERLOAD MOBILE

 Riding a Marshutka is like riding a small sweaty crowded clown car.

So, there is that part of what I'm doing with my life. But I'm also doing other things, like learning Russian. Which is awesome. And I'm also making friends. Which is the subject of today's post.

I spent so many sleepless nights thinking about how to write this post.


Making friends is possibly one of the single most anxiety inducing processes ever. Possibly more anxiety inducing than an outdoor concert.

No Kanye.


So here are some things that I have handily discovered about making friends.


There are 6.94 Billion people on Earth. There are probably only about 7 people I would willingly hang out with for more than four hours.

True Story



WHY:

NT's are weird. They find weird things meaningful, like touching each others hair, and braiding it. And talking about which Spiderman character is the best.

Wouldn't you rather talk about the number of endangered languages, or compare Starwars to modes of philosophical thought?

YES.

Because I would way rather do that.

People are kind of a  lot of work. Sometimes it feels like interacting with them is job. NT's don't have a readily compatible interface. Like a Mac and PC. It feels sometimes like I need translation software.

Yes!! (from leacyclan.com)


SO a conversation usually goes,

Think of something to say.

Think of a way to say that follows social norms so that NT's won't be offended/confused.

Wait for a response.
Life would be easier if I had the force!



Retranslate verbal response with body language clues to figure out what the NT  ACTUALLY (because why use perfectly good words to say what you mean when you have body language and other less useful ways of communicating.)

I have this thought often during social interactions


Do you see where this becomes exhausting?



I spend most of my time doing this and the other part of my time figuring out what  Weird Social Thing I've missed.

So typical friendships usually only last as long as I'm willing to put this amount of effort into them.

So what is the best way to find friends?

Other NNTs.

You know that other weird kid in class? The one spending 2/3 of their time out in the hall because they can't sit still? They are pretty much interested in being your friend, because you can't sit still either.

Side note: do they even send kids to sit out in the hall any more? Because I'm pretty sure I spent more time in the hallway than I did the classroom in kindergarden.

People who have siblings who are NNT.

You know who knows how to handle weirdness? These people.You know you also might be weird. These people.



Adults who know that children are actually just tiny adults. (And treat them that way)



Adults are awesome. They use big words and are not interested in Bratz/My Little Pony/ Spider Man. They are often interested in Ancient History/Astronomy/Current Events in Central Asia. And if they are super awesome, they will talk with small NNT's about it.

And they use the big words and not look at you weird when you understand them and can use the big words too.

Where do you find these kinds of people?

Clubs/ Activities with a beginning and an end and predictability and something to do with your feet.

Like Dance!


Have I mentioned I love predicatable things? Because they are my favorite

So one of my worst nightmares is being thrown into a room with people.

What do I do?

Who do I talk with?

What am I supposed to do with my feet?

All of these are important questions. I like people (sometimes) But I need a structured enviroment with predictable modes of interaction in order to feel comfortable!

This means dinner parties are out indefinately and so are cocktail parties. Any glamourous images you have of yourself with a martini glass making everyone laugh can be replaced with awkward girl with pigtails sitting in the corner.

Awkward face.


There simply isn't enough structure in these kinds of situations for me to feel safe.

BUT you do have to interact with people at some point. Because, they are like everywhere.

SO, why not join a club, or some other after school activity?

Why:

Glorious Predicatability!

Tom Cruise approves


They have a beginning and an end time. This means that I can predict when it will start. I can also predict when it will end. I know that it will end. I know that I will only have to interact with my peers until time runs out.
 

For Example: I swam competitivly for 7 years. My parents decided I would be less injured if I was boyant for most of the time. I knew the plan.

2:30 arrive at pool.
2:35 go into locker room
2:45 go out onto pool deck.
Spend 10 minutes on pool deck avoiding getting into pool/socializing with others.

Wait for coach to say get in the pool for the 4th time.

Get in the pool.

I knew this was the plan, every day. Every time. It was wonderful, because this was predicatable, the Weird Social Stuff was also predicatble.

For example:

Acceptable topics to talk about on the pool deck:

How cold the water probably is
How sore you are from yesterday's workout.
How sore you will probably be from today's workout. 

If I want, I can practice these conversations.

And they happen pretty much every day. In the same manner, with the
same people.






Perfect. Mostly.


The other reason for things like this:




Activities.


The focus isn't on the Weird Social Stuff that's happening (for NNTs) The focus is on
the activity.


Activities are more goal oriented than Weird Social Things.


   I am going to swim across the pool and back

   I am going to learn how to make this knot

   I am going to learn all of the notes to this song.



This is really different than doing the Social Thing.

Although, I don't get most of the social thing.


Talk with my peers about make up? 
Find this conversation meaningless as it does not pertain to my life.

Activities are handy because I can (sort of) opt out of doing the Weird Social Stuff thing


Activities also give NTs something to do too.


They sort of put everyone on the same page as to what they should do with their feet. And a level playing field is the best thing.


Friends:


I didn't really have very many friends growing up. I had my sister, I had my Mom and Dad. I had our dogs.


I did have a couple of friends at school, and at other activties but to be honest with you
Most people were so mean to me that I didn't really want to interact with them, they were scary.


I still have a lot to say about this, because having friends is super important, and I love the friends that I have. I know it seems like many NNTs don't have friends, or don't have enough friends, but that's because we need a different kind of support than the kind that comes from a conventional friendship. We need different things to help us make friends than other people. We can have happy, successful lives, they will also be filled with some kind of interaction, it might not be the typical kinds of interactions that are expected or that fufill the lives of NTs. What matters is that you find something that makes you feel safe and happy.

People are really really weird and they don't make sense, but I don't know a single person NNT or not who doesn't want at least some form of companionship. The best advice that I can think of that is the truest to me is to keep trying.


They may not seem like they're around right now, but soon you'll find them.

2 comments:

  1. I'm feeling a little dense, but I can't remember what WSS is, and I can't piece it together from context.

    Your adventure in Russia is amazing and daring. I'm eager to hear all your updates.

    Teri

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mother to a half-pint NNT here. This is brilliant. Thank you for writing.

    ReplyDelete

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