Social life is important for everyone, but I think it is a priority among youths. College students, who sacrifice sleep staying up late conversing, partying, hanging, are no exception. Although I feel like an old soul in a sea of youngsters, I too am caught up in this social culture by my mere existence on a college campus.
However, there is one aspect of my life that sets me apart from my fellow students: I experience a sensitivity to sensory stimuli on a daily basis, and this sensitivity is heightened in the social hangouts that characterize a college.
Last night, I was with some friends catching up and waiting for more people to arrive before we played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For ten minutes we sat while our friend traversed across campus, talking and joking around. All the meanwhile, some music was playing through my friend’s bluetooth speaker. Sounds pretty normal, right? WRONG.
I’m pretty adept at handling socialization, though I find multiple people still daunting; having the distraction of pop music blasting in the background inhibits my ability to participate in the conversation, much less play video games. When I asked my friend to turn off his music, he made a counteroffer that, in return, I would not play a character he found particularly annoying.
I think he anticipated I would not agree with this request, but I did, and the music finally ceased. Neither of us was all too happy; he because his precious music was shut off, and I owing to the fact that I had to forego something in order to have a pleasant experience with my friends.
Time and time again, I’ve encountered numerous social events wherein the dominant view holds that noise, light, and other stimuli are the norm. Any challenges to that view are unreasonable and sticks in the mud. I was hoping I could escape this type of social scene when I left high school, but obviously there is much to be desired for the neurodivergent.
At this juncture, I foresee two solutions: clearer communication with my friends, or more accommodating friends in the first place.