I once knew a boy (I’ll call him Zach for the purpose of this post) with autism who was in my fifth grade class. This boy always had issues making friends and connecting with people like the other kids in my class. I remember learning about his autism in class and beginning to understand how he perceives the world.
A few days ago, the seniors at my high school had a special day dedicated to showing off what their post-high school plans are. After listening to multiple presentations and to a motivational speaker, the seniors were invited to go eat in the gym. When we flooded in, we were welcomed with an abundance of catered food and lots of large tables for groups to sit at.
I sat down with a few of my friends at a table and looked around the giant space. As I was scanning the large room and noticing all of the different friend groups sitting at every table, I noticed Zach sitting by himself, looking around the room as if he was looking for someone.
I waited and waited to see if he would find a group of friends to sit by or if a teacher would approach him. Sadly, neither of these things occurred. My first thought was to do something about it since nobody else was doing anything. But like everyone else, I tried to cave to the voice in my head telling me to be like everyone else and ignore Zach. After contemplating what I will do for a little, I finally burst and informed the people sitting closest to me that Zach is sitting alone and looks really lonely.
What I thought would happen is that somebody would suggest to invite him to our table. This is not what happened. Instead, after repeatedly bringing up the fact that Zach was sitting alone, I realized that nobody was going to do anything about it. People tried to justify their lack of responsibility to a fellow classmate with excuses such as Zach got to the gym before everyone else or that Zach could easily go sit with people. After explaining why they could care less, they continued their conversations.
Eventually two of my friends sitting on the other end of the table overheard me and to my relief, they immediately asked where Zach was sitting. Although they asked me a few times if they should invite him now or after we get our food, they decided to get up and invite Zach over to our table. I watched as Zach’s desperate expression changed when my two friends approached him and asked if he wants to sit by us. Zach immediately got up and followed the two girls over to our table. I greeted him right away and asked him if he remembered me from fifth grade. To my surprise, he did! There were multiple kids from my fifth grade class that I wasn’t friends with who didn’t remember me, however Zach did.
Although I felt a lot better that he wasn’t sitting or eating alone anymore, I couldn’t get over the fact that people just did not care. That is why I am writing this post. To be honest, I am not even any better then my friends who didn’t care that Zach was sitting alone because I did not immediately get up and do the right thing by myself. I feel horrible that I sat around and asked others for their opinion before finding two friends who were willing to extend an invitation to Zach.
The lesson I learned from this whole situation is that if you see something and know you should do the right thing, then do it. Not only will you feel good about yourself, but your good deed could brighten someones day or help them somehow. Don’t look to others for approval and you shouldn’t care if you stand out of the crowd. Be an independent thinker and do what you believe in and what you think is right. Don’t rely on others or expect anything of them. If you wait around for others to help you do something good, then the world will never be a better place. Take action, don’t just sit quietly and be like everyone else.
I hope you have a great week and find something good that you can do for another person!