25 January, 2010

this is a super super draft

I hate groups.

One time last year, my friend and I went to a group at our college's Community Service Center. It's hard to remember correctly because it was a long time ago, but I think they were planning on having a program where students would be in charge of organizing the volunteer work in a particular area. My friend hoped to be in charge of organizing the volunteer work with developmentally disabled people, and I was going to help when I got back from studying abroad. (I should probably get on that.) I wasn't really required to go like she was, but I was curious, and also I think there was food.

It turned out to just be one of those things where you go around and say a lot of stuff about yourself. Then, we got put into pairs with people we didn't know, and we were supposed to ask each a question, and then tell the group what the other person had said. All these things are fun for normal people and I don't actually mind them that much either.

The question was, "How do you find and preserve community in your life?"

This question was about as fun as the question, "What did you do over break?" I guess I should explain that that question is hard because I didn't have a lot of friends until college. There are only a few people from high school that I would consider seeing, and I probably only see them once a year. I have one good friend and I see her a lot, but even seeing one person a lot doesn't take up that much time. So when someone I don't know very well asks what I did over break, I feel really uncomfortable, because usually the answer is some kind of music or writing project, and going to movies with my parents. This question is frequently asked just the way you would say "How are you?" with the assumption that I'm going to be able to answer it in an uncomplicated way. But answering the question truthfully means revealing that I have a past where I was more socially nonstandard than I am now. This feels like too much information. It's especially uncomfortable when this question is asked by an authority figure, or as part of some sort of ice-breaking exercise. I think I usually end up reacting with much more confusion than is considered normal, and trying to fudge my activities to make them sound more social than they really were.

But "How do you find and preserve community in your life?" is even harder. It's like asking me how I feel about being heterosexual. I listened (anxiously) as the girl I was paired with described the different groups she is part of at Oberlin, and the church she goes to. I don't remember what I said when it was my turn. I'm not part of any groups. Last year I would sometimes go to the LGBT student group and the group for volunteering with intellectually disabled people, but neither of these was a big part of my life. The LGBT group was fun and probably a little like being in a community, but I didn't really feel close to the people involved except when I was already friends with them or became friends with them outside of the group. I think a sense of groups is something I might be fundamentally lacking. It just seems like something I'm supposed to like in theory, that in practice is about as much fun as eating eggs (analogy explanation: I don't particularly like eggs).

Maybe I don't really understand what a group is. In a group, are you supposed to be one-on-one good friends with every person there, also? Because I feel like I would like being in groups if it was a group made up of all my good friends. But it seems like a lot of work to make friends with all the people in a group, and that's just assuming that I like all of them and all of them like me to that extent.

I'm really excited about next term because I think I might be able to get into my roommate's social group (which I've hovered around the boundaries of over the past two years). I am one-on-one friends with a few people in the group, and on friendly terms with several other people. I think that could actually be nice. A group makes you feel safe because you don't have to make as much effort to see other people, right? I think that's what a group is.

Usually when people think of a verbal ASD person, they think of a person who has trouble making friends and having romantic relationships. I do have trouble with romantic relationships, but I think that comes out of the community thing; if you're gay, you have to know more people, because the chances of finding someone you could have a relationship with are pretty low. It's kind of frustrating for me when people try to tell me that being gay isn't that big a deal and if I just had a better attitude or was a better person, I would have been in a relationship by now. I don't have that much trouble making friends, although as with everything else, it depends on a lot of other factors.

Something that's hard to think about is the future. I have basically figured out what I want to do: I want to write fiction, which is a solitary thing, and I want to work with developmentally disabled people, who I relate with as easily as normal people relate to each other. I know that in order to get a job, I'll need to do an interview, but that's a measurable thing; it's one day, I'll save up all my energy and deliver. And the DD people should recharge me enough so that I can act okay with the normal people I work with.


  1. That is absolutely my least favorite question. How are you? It's so infuriating sometimes that you are not supposed to answer it literally. And the times when people actually want you to answer it for real, they're like, "you are NOT fine. Don't say that." Ahhhh! I can rarely tell which way I am supposed to answer. When I can and it's really fun to answer with something they are not expecting, like, "I'm awful." They never know how to respond, I guess it's kind of like giving them a taste of what an ASD is like.

  2. Well, you create community through this blog, and you are part of the community of bloggers and social networkers.

    And yes, a group/community is full of individuals and relationships with those individuals.