Most of you may know this, but I’m an Autistic lady with a mental illness. I have had a lot of people over the years be rude, bully me, or just plain exclude me.
As a young woman I was very insecure and wanted to live in a world where everyone liked me. Of course that is impossible but I certainly tried. I was the world’s most adept people pleaser and I learned to get on everyone’s ‘right side’.
By the time I was in my thirties people did like me but often because I’d done everything within my power to get them to like me. I hated confrontation and I hated the idea that people might reject me.
I was known for being thoughtful – but this was mainly due to the fact that, in true Autie style, I learned and memorised everybody’s likes and dislikes and put this knowledge into practice. I would remember how everyone took their tea or coffee, I would remember if someone mentioned what kind of music they liked and then play the music they liked when they came over.
I was known as a very nice person but this was not a true reflection of my feelings or character – I was just trying to be popular.
Then I did something slightly foolish: I wrote my autobiography. This book set out some of my views, my likes and dislikes. It also very gradually and incrementally put me into the Autism world spotlight. People started to care what I thought. They would share my statuses on Facebook. People asked for my opinion. What on earth was I to do? What if my new friends disagreed with my opinion? What if I offended them? This is an ongoing issue as I am so geared up to be appropriate and do and say what will please others, I sometimes struggle to even know what I think.
Something happened today which prompted this post. I was on social media, as I often am, and I clicked on a link to a quite well-known Autism page. I was informed in no uncertain terms that I was ‘permanently banned’ from this page.
I honestly could not imagine what I might have done to warrant such a severe sanction in Facebook land. I was also initially very upset. I felt rejected. I wondered what I might have done to offend whoever ran this page. I was fairly certain I hadn’t argued with anyone from the page or said anything offensive.
A number of my very lovely Facebook family responded when I posted about my disappointment to be excluded from the page. One of these people -a very wise and accomplished author and advocate whose opinions I value very much- suggested that it really didn’t matter what those people thought. I felt that this was good advice, not just for this situation but for life. This promoted these thoughts:
- You can’t be liked by everyone. That is perfectly OK. I don’t like everyone so it makes sense that not everyone will like me.
- I know that my own issues make me more prone to wanting to be liked by everyone but I can overcome this.
- Rather than focusing on the people who don’t like me, I should instead be grateful and appreciate the friends I do have.
- If people reject me it may be saying more about them than it is about me.
- The other thing I’ve been thinking is that it’s actually OK to disagree with friends. Good friendships can withstand disagreement and if a friend isn’t able to let a point of difference in opinion exist between you and them, they may not be much of a friend.
- It’s hard for those on the Autism spectrum and those with other conditions or differences to find friends, so the ones we have are very important and we don’t want to lose them. But I feel quality rather than quantity is the key factor in friendships. To me, a few close friends is better than a lot of people who don’t know you well and don’t value you.
- So don’t be too upset when certain people reject you. You probably don’t want those people in your life anyway. And if in doubt, cuddle you cat or dog or other friend – they love you unconditionally.
You can read more of Jeanette’s work at: //jeanettepurkis.wordpress.com/