Connection in the Face of Rejection

The Georgia Aquarium is a great place to think

For people on the autism spectrum like myself, connecting with others is an uphill battle and can be extremely difficult. From my own personal experiences, sometimes it’s like I can’t trust my own mind or body when I’m usually so in control and the next minute I’m just not.

For example, one time I met a guy in an improv class I was trying out, and we seemed to hit it off pretty well. While we were hanging out, the conversation seemed to be going pretty smoothly…

That is, things were going smoothly until I said something that was meant to be a joke, but he kind of took it the wrong way. I didn’t know it at the time, and he didn’t tell me.

The next time I saw him, he kept walking away from me and wouldn’t say anything. I heard from someone else that what I said offended him, and he didn’t want to be friends with me ever again. Hearing that hurt my feelings really badly, but I’m lucky to have friends who love me unconditionally and that I can confide in when I’m feeling that way.

Those feelings of rejection can be so overwhelming, but I can get through them if I’m just honest with myself. So, if anything like that happens again—which I really hope it doesn’t but there are still chances it might—I’ll be okay.

Everyone deserves a second chance, because you never know what struggles they are facing or what they’re going through. My brain just works differently, and that isn’t something I should be punished for.

This World Autism Month, people should get to know the autistic community for who we really are. The pandemic was extremely hard for us because most had to stay inside and miss going out to socialize and have fun. Also, if something we do is bothering you, just tell us how you feel. Take it from me, we won’t bite.

Just because we see things differently doesn’t make us less human. Even though my friend’s rejection hurt like other rejections I’ve suffered in the past, I won’t let people’s misjudgment stop me from trying to connect with my peers because we should not be defined by our mistakes. Plus, how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we can’t make them? It’s a fact of life that everybody makes mistakes, and there is no shame in that.

May be an image of 3 people, including Ryan Lee and people smiling
2 other autistic friends of mine. Chris and Colin

To follow Ryan Lee on Instagram, click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Really feeling this article, I often come back to it whenever I blame myself for failed interactions, so to find quiet at last and put this rejection into perspective (in particular the ghosting kind, that is a result of the other’s poor communication skills). Not losing sight of the supportive people in your life is important when this happens.

    Thank you very much.

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