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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

A Grey Day, a Grey Social Life

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 26 March 2018 | Views [596] | Comments [1]

Here I am at the Sandridge Lookout (commonly known as the "singing lookout") in Melbourne. Port Melbourne to be exact. It's windy and this tin structure has a singing effect on this grey day where rain is threatening to hammer down at any moment. Here I am, emotional, at one of my favourite lookouts in all of Australia. Here I am with a fabulous view of Melbourne, solo, no friends in sight, no phone call, not even a text just to ask "how ya going?" That's the story of my social life.

41 countries I've travelled, all seven continents, 90,000+ km hitchhiked, 30,000~ photos snapped, hundreds of travel stories written, and a film being made about me; I run myself ragged and I travel despite the brutal toll it can take on you. It's rewarding at the same time...I love travel more than anything. I was born a traveller, and I will die a traveller. There is however, one thing I've always longed for...and that's a good, solid, sound social life. I've always wished for an active social life where I can plan a group trip with friends, receive a phone call saying "hey Chris, let's go grab a beer this evening," and furthermore, not have to worry about being left out of birthday parties. My life appears to be all glitz and glamour with all the travel I do but I have very few friends and practically no social life.

A series of events throughout my life have led to a sense of social awkwardness. I feel that many people, including my parents and teachers, didn't want or encourage me to be social. I was never allowed to go outside and play yet I'd constantly be told "you play too much Nintendo." I feel that I was never meant to be one of those guys who would just stay at home after work and play Nintendo or watch movies; I was made to be outgoing and social yet I never really had the opportunity to be. My siblings were invited to birthday parties nearly every week whilst I was rarely ever invited to anything. Unlike most people, I wasn't raised into a social life as most kids are, I had to get out there and build a social life out of nothing; I've always likened my social awkwardness to like how one may pick up a language incorrectly if they're not taught it properly. I was bullied constantly, mainly by boys. The end result: I always felt more comfortable having female friends. I was fine with that, as I was always happy around females. After graduating from high school, I felt it was my big chance to break out socially. Often I'd bump into my friends at a local restaurant that doubled as a gathering spot for watching sports, or at Starbucks whilst they were studying, yet there was still the dilemma of being left out of functions. I wasn't 21 yet, and the end result was I couldn't join my friends because they'd decide to go out to bars (they were either 21 or over, or if not they had a fake ID). Turning 21, I felt it was my golden chance to break out socially. I couldn't be more wrong. My friends started going out less and less and the phone calls became fewer and fewer. With the advent of caller ID, I discovering many of my friends were actually ignoring my phone calls. My social life widdled down to where I'd go home, after working 10 hours, and just sit in my room in front of the computer because nobody was willing to take an hour out of their day to spend time with me.

Eventually my female friends started finding boyfriends. The end result: I was shoved aside. I was no longer important in their lives and whilst they'd go get a boyfriend, I'd have to make all the adjustments and/or find new friends. I think people need to start thinking of the potential damage that boyfriends (and girlfriends) can do to existing relationships, as I've known people whose relationships even with their own parents have been destroyed over a boyfriend. If I met a girl and I sensed that a relationship was going to cause damage to existing relationships with family and friends, then I couldn't be with that girl. I have female friends who have been so keen to introduce me to a boyfriend, and to one of them I said flatly "I don't want to meet him. Better yet, introduce me to a family member I haven't met, or to a friend or colleague who has similar interests as mine." Why on Earth would I want to meet another boyfriend when they've been responsible for the destruction of several close friendships?

People like to blame it on my lifestyle that I have few friends and no girlfriend but even when I was settled I struggled socially. In fact, it was worse then. I'd be left out of birthday parties and social functions whilst I was only a few miles away. Some would blame it on the fact that I didn't have a car, when having a car is just like having a pair of Air Jordans; it's a material possession that doesn't make you any more or less of a person. I should add that I wanted to hurt myself after being left out of a birthday party a few years ago, even though I attempted to call six friends, with all of them ignoring my call, and then seeing on Facebook that they all went out. My life seems to be all glamour, eh? That was the nearest I ever came to truly hurting myself. Whilst all of my friends were out smiling and having a good time, I could have ended up dead or seriously hurt all because they couldn't think of me for five seconds with "hey, maybe Chris would like to join us, let's give him a call."

These days I'm faced with another dilemma I could have never possibly prepared for: babies. First off, I never really gave babies any thought, and secondly, I never thought babies were going to be a big thing in my generation. Of course I knew some of my friends would have children but I never envisioned that every other post on Facebook would be about babies (or weddings, or baby showers). Many people whom I knew in high school and college are career-oriented, and I envisioned very few of them ever having children. They turned out to be realtors, yoga instructors, writers, teachers, and so forth, and I pictured most of them focused on building their careers and doing things on their own over having children. Besides, why are people so focused on having children when there are already plenty of people to be around and share experiences with without having to raise the human population? It scares me that my friends have babies because I know I'll see and hear from them less and less, and there's no realistic way to express my feelings without causing offence. It's a perfect example of being the "rock in a hard place" here. I feel also that part of the reason I'm against babies is because my first girlfriend cheated on me because I didn't want a child...it's a pain I still feel to this day. I was asked if I she could allow another man to help her have a child and I responded "would you leave me because I don't want to drive a Lexus or because I have autism?" and she said "no." A few weeks later I found out she cheated on me, and I didn't eat for over a week I was so depressed.

When I was in Pennsylvania last year, my mother was quick to point out that I'm so good at entertaining myself, but I've never had any other option when work, money, new cars, babies, boyfriends, handbags, and the whole lot have taken priority over spending a bit of time with me. I have friends who can all plan a group trip to New Orleans yet are unwilling to take a trip with me because they want to bring their boyfriend or are unwilling to lower their standards a bit. A couple of years ago I raised the idea of a group of maybe six friends going to Hawaii, and when I said I found a self-catering lodge with a kitchen and six beds in the jungle not far from the beach for $120 per night, the idea was immediately baulked at. Who could complain when paying $120 per night ($20 per person) for a lodge in a jungle, walking distance from the beach? One person remarked "Hawaii doesn't work like that...we'd all want our own rooms." That raises costs substantially and I was told "we won't lower our expectations." A few years ago I had a friend who lived in London for six months, and four different friends visited her in that timeframe. I have lived for extended stretches in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as having spent lengthy stretches in other countries, and only two people have ever visited me: a former girlfriend who cared more about her job than myself or our relationship, and a friend who turned against me whom I've never spoken to since. I see and hear of people going on trips to Hawaii, Fiji, New Orleans, and elsewhere. Why can't I be a part of something like that?

Why do I struggle socially? I'm not some layabout who sits around all day with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. With all I've accomplished, the phone should be ringing off the hook for me to the point of annoyance. I should easily have a girlfriend, rather than having, for half of my life now, girls always telling me "I only want to be friends" and then seeing another guy because I'm not "cool" enough or because I don't want children or a fancy car. With the experiences I have, the awesome photos I take, and the skills I possess, I should have zero difficulty having friends and should be out with friends nearly all the time. Friends should be itching to go on a trip with me, rather than me having to plead with them to think about travel rather than babies, a car, or a new handbag. I have feelings like everyone else, and my life is far from the glamour that people perceive it to be. Someone noted how I "live like a millionaire" but that's only from the pictures you see, and what I write about. I have feelings too, and I'm not going to sugar-coat my social life. I express the good and the bad on my journey.

At the "singing lookout" I am...waiting for my match, a friend, or at least a phone call that I know will never come. Sadly, the rain can come down at any minute now, and when it rains, it pours...



Hey man

thanks for sharing this. An insightful read on the way you see life and how you have done so much. I am stoked that you have stepped up in so many ways. I will be mindful of your feelings and do my best to engage you. Have a better day.

  Bryant Mar 29, 2018 9:00 AM

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