“I like you for who you are.”
That’s it. That’s what makes healthy relationships, not
I like you for what you do for me…
I would like you if you would…
If you change this or improve that, then…
I like you for who you are.
Whole and complete acceptance, flaws and all.
This is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those around us — unconditional acceptance and a clear invitation to spend time together.
We live far away from family, and the last couple months have been full of joyful visits. My kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are amazing. They make my kids feel valued and appreciated, encourage them in their interests, and give them space to be themselves.
My kids thrive in these relationships. They are open, warm, friendly, and reciprocal. Outside observers, watching my kids interact with these family members, would not be quick to diagnose my kids.
The same is true with a few select friendships that we have nurtured over the years, people like family who have been part of our lives, seeing the good and the ugly, and still choosing to spend time with us.
In other settings, especially with large groups of same-aged peers, my kids struggle. (What am I kidding? I do too!)
Asynchronous (gifted) individuals are often highly perceptive, extra aware of others’ reactions to us. We may not be able to verbalize it, but we pick up on the subtle cues that others may miss. We agonize over awkward interactions and what should have been said/done differently.
I’ve personally been beating myself up for 12 years now over a careless sentence in a random interaction with a former high school student. And it wasn’t that I said anything wrong, just flippant.
For some of us, we become hyper-aware of how we don’t fit in, how our interactions with others don’t measure up to some kind of elusive standard. We continue trying, it zaps our energy, and we continue to feel isolated and “other”.
Others, like my son, tend to disengage. It’s too complicated, rejection or misunderstanding is too likely or overwhelming, so let’s not even try — plus, the likelihood of shared interests is so low that it’s not worth making the effort.
My advice? Start slow. Start small. Realize that it’s okay not to be the extroverted life of the party. Find your tribe, even if it takes work. Realize that same-age doesn’t necessarily pre-qualify you for friendship with someone, and try not to beat yourself up over the relationships that, despite effort, just didn’t take off.
When my son was 4, I referred to the children in his preschool as his “friends”. He corrected me and told me he only had one friend.
“Why?”, I asked.
“Because,” he said, “She says yes when I want to do something.”
Our “Yes”ers are out there, people who have shared interests, think in similar ways, are quirky and eccentric. They may be few and far between, but they are there. And they’re worth finding.
This blog post has been part of Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for July, 2018 – Relationship Issues. Click here to read about others’ wisdom and experiences.