One of the worst things about having Aspergers Syndrome for me is meeting new people and making new friends without the people thinking I am some kind of weirdo and my fear of people taking advantage of me espcecially considering I am the type of person who can be too trusting of other people because of my eagerness to please everyone to be their friend… which has hurt me in the past.
When I joined my first Agency nearly 6 years ago, the first three months were a test of meeting new people. It wasn’t High School or College anymore, I really didn’t have any familiar/friendly faces around on or any opportunity of “release” like Sports and school books were for me during High School and College when I got nervous or shy.
I initially trusted the wrong people, the girls on my first team because I wanted to gain their trust/respect. They pretty much used me and that eagerness I had to want to please everyone to their advantage,
Pretty much while they left to get toasted on martinis at 5pm, I was pretty much by myself back in the office doing their work for them and staying until 10pm/11pm which meant my only social life was the people I hung out with in my dreams. I wised up eventually, I felt betrayed that they treated my kindness like that…
I felt alone and used. I really didn’t talk to anyone until that one day when I met my best friend Liz, a co-worker in my agency on another account. Liz became a “big sister” to me and eventually through her I other great people in the agency like Lauren or who I called “LJ” who was this cool/bubbly girl. Leah, this adorably cute southern girl who was goofy yet incredibly smart. Jay, the IT guy who I can talk comics/movies/sports with while he is fixing my computer. Corey, the guy I talked pro wrestling with and other people like Antonio, Jim, etc…
I was part of a tightknit group of co-worker friends who looked out for each other, listened to each other’s troubles at work and always partied hard together including an Epic X-Mas Party.
Other than my friends, there were also people who looked out for me like protectors. There was Karen, a Copy VP who was kind’ve like a den mother to me and always lent a sympathetic ear to me. Alan, the studio guy who always came through for me when I was in a pinch and always calmed my nerves when I didn’t think I was going to get something out the door. Mitch, this former Hippie who you would never tell because of suits given he was a EVP who was kind’ve like the “Cool Uncle” of the place.
I have memories when we did Happy Hours at FUBAR. Which was around the block and had 4 drinks for $12 specials and unlimited popcorn!
Eventually because it is “Agency Life”, something that happened to me that I can’t explain, and other circumstances. We all eventually went our seperate ways and went elsewhere.
I am still close with Liz and Leah. I miss LJ, she got married to a Digital Art Director she met at our agency, we don’t talk anymore because of circumstances and I keep in touch with others whether hanging out, chance encounters or Facebook.
When I got to my 2nd agency, I was hoping to meet a new group of friends but it never happened. The environment I felt alone again. I longed for those days where I can randomly go to Liz’s desk and see if she wanted to catch a movie after work or eat junk food with Leah and LJ.
Fast forward, 2 years later after that where I am currently at. Like my first day at Grey, I felt like I was starting over again. I kinda reverted to nervous, shy Aspergers me. I felt scared and alone again. Not to mention it freaking sucks having a bad boss hounding you doing things right (seriously, nothing pleased her).
Eventually, thanks to the Fates and a pregnancy… I got moved to another account and never looked back.
I met my boss Andrea, who I immediately loved and was always great to me and protective of me as I am for her. She really cares about me, always wanting to try to have a normal life, not always worry about work and not to be afraid of being myself despite my Aspergers. I know, you shouldn’t say this about your boss, who is “your boss” but I love Andrea like she is my big sister (like Liz) and would run through a wall for her (even though I know she wouldn’t want me too).
Then I met two friends in Traffic and Art who were part of the project I was on. They are younger than me but they reminded me of my friends at Grey. One reminded me of LJ in the sense who smart and wise beyond her years she was and she was justing starting out. The other wore a Boston Red Sox cap yet didn’t watch baseball, which might be best for him considering I am a diehard Yankees fan.
I starting to feel comfortable being myself again though I constantly still (to this day) struggle trying to keep my nerves/awkwardness/shyness in check. It’s a neverending battle for me and I would not wish my struggles on anyone including someone I don’t like. I can revert to my “scared, vulernable self” at a moment’s notice.
I, then opened up to others whether it is the Art Director who I am trying to get him to accept the awesomeness of “Puerto Rican Stuffed Shells” with. The fellow Barcelona Soccer diehard who shares my addiction to Starbucks. The diehard Cowboys fan who was my neighbor.The anything but cheeky Brit who killed me at Poker with her husband. The amazingly beautiful AD who I can talk for hours outside a speakeasy with a cigarette outside about random stuff. The Chicago Sports Fan AD. The kinda weird, yet awesome bald dude. The guy who left the tiki idol from the “Brady Bunch” on my desk after his trip from Hawaii. The Digital AE who’s been one of my closest confidante’s especially in the pickle of a situation we were in. The funny copywriter who might be the only other person that watches “Portlandia”. The Auburn diehard, The funny greek writer (if you’re reading this, I am sorry for accidentally interruping your call) and tons of awesome people… People who I have went to Happy Hours with, got sake bombed with and played endless rounds of shuffleboard with.
Including Andrea, I also had senior people who look out for especially in the traffic department and my team who went to bat for me when I was almost placed into a bad situation almost similar to what had happened to me at Grey. They fought for me until the wrong was righted.
Things feel like they went Full Circle for me… I know it won’t last but I am only living in the moment and I am happy.
To those of you who know who you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will always have me to be there for you! I do deeply apologize for the times I can be awkward and weird… I really don’t mean too, believe me
-V. for Vinnie