We look at the difficult task of moving away to a new place and meeting new people and making friends, is it as easy as it is made out to be? For some, the answer is simple yet for many, it’s more complicated because it can all be down to preference really, like whether you actually want to make friends or not but sometimes, even if you want to make friends, it doesn’t always happen, it’s all down to personalities, being approachable and showing an interest but for me, even if I can show interest, the message might not always come across like that.
As the title says, people who are autistic do go to University and being social is not always the easiest thing to do for everyone anywhere really but University can be a challenge indeed. When I was at school or at college, I could always go home at the end of the day but with University, that was different because I had moved miles away just to go and the travelling would have been too difficult and time consuming every single day
Quite obviously, it can be hard to make new friends in a strange new place, wouldn’t you agree? You’ve just arrived at your accommodation on move in day and you have so many other people doing the same thing, they have come from all over the country and sometimes, from other countries as well. All of you living in the same block of flats or houses or sometimes, on campus! I lived in student accommodation, located in some woods in the middle of nowhere, next to an abandoned mental asylum…right then!
You can meet all kinds of people, not everyone is the same so don’t worry about that, along with the party goers who you will see most evenings getting ready to hit the town, you find the ones who join many societies, the ones who would prefer to just study and ones who will quickly realise they have made a terrible mistake! I saw them all…ones who never did any work, ones that locked themselves in a room all day and ones that just drank beer and ate KFC everyday!
When meeting flatmates, you quickly realise the people you will be sharing space with for a year at least and you just might to able to see what your experience might be like, I had people who like to go clubbing, one who never left his room and one who had the loudest music on that I can remember anyone playing but they were all nice and friendly which was a huge relief.
How are you supposed to feel? Brave, nervous…scared or all three at once? Will you make a million friends or no friends at all? So many questions will run through your mind because your dreaming of going to University has just become a reality, you start now! For me, having Autism and all, I worried so much about all of this, making friends and ‘fitting in’ was a priority that scared me to the point that I wasn’t that fussed about it because it felt like the easier option, I didn’t have to try and get hurt by rejection but why do all of that? I would rather try and be rejected then not try at all…I didn’t want to be alone for three years, although I would imagine that some people would not mind this option, I mean I saw some people who never socialized with anyone at all and I think they preferred it that way and that’s ok.
Did I go to a party on my first night after moving in? Yes, I did but did I enjoy it? Sort of, it was alright but a little too much for me, it was in a flat kitchen and it was full of people so I felt a bit isolated and everyone was getting drunk, I felt a little awkward after half an hour so decided to go back to my flat and I pretty felt much like hiding or going on the XBOX 360, same thing really!
Nothing wrong with that if you ask me, I gave it a go and that’s all that mattered to me, I had met my flatmates and I was happy with that and as time went on, I would do more things with them and for me that was miles better then not doing a single thing with them at all…could I have done more? Probably but I just didn’t feel that comfortable going all out I guess…it’s hard to explain but I always had a sort of fear that if I went all out and made a mistake, that it would cost me big time or something along those lines.
I was happy that I tried and I knew for me, it would take some time to feel comfortable in my new surroundings and to talking to new people, even though others around me appeared to be dealing with it all so much easier then I was but I knew that somewhere, others were like me, they were struggling at the start as well. That did give me a certain amount of comfort because you never want to feel like you are the only person going through being alone.
The world feels like an unfair place sometimes, I mean you try your best and do what everyone else appears to be doing yet sometimes, you can feel like everyone else is moving and your stuck still…it’s weird because if anyone puts in enough effort and does the very best that they can, then they should be able to accomplish all that they set out to do so in that sense, if I had wanted to go and make more good friends, I probably could have been somewhat successful in that but as I have said, I did not allow myself to I guess…out of fear for getting too ahead of myself and having a massive fallout and I would be too afraid to trust anyone again, I guess I just take some things to personally.
With my Autism, I can sometimes convince myself that I won’t be able to be successful when it comes to being social because I am often quiet and can enjoy my own company a lot of the time, I guess I just feel safer that way…not wanting to leave the nest and risk getting hurt, change isn’t always required in my world but I know this isn’t always a good thing…it might make me happy but I also think what kind of life is that?
Did I make friends while I was at University? Yes I did and I would say I had a fair few acquaintances as well and I guess that was because of my nerves and that I had plenty of good friends back home and for some reason, I have a thing where I don’t want a ton of good friends…sounds like too much hard work I guess was my mindset…either that or because of my past that it just scares me, I had a lot of friends in my childhood, was betrayed by them and have since sort of struggled to let too many people in too close now, in case it were ever to happen again.
Everyone has a different story when it comes to having friends at University. For me, I was happy with what I did but think If I had tried a bit more, that I could have accomplished that little bit more but I did learn a lot about myself from stepping out of my comfort zone time and time again and even if I didn’t always feel comfortable doing it, I was happy that I was capable of stepping through that invisible wall I seem to surround myself with and I still keep in contact with some people that I met as well so that makes me happy.