Let’s Befriend Some Extraterrestrials
In late July 2023, the news spun out of orbit, reporting that the US government confirmed aliens’ existence. This is information I found courtesy of memes and TikTok videos. A few memes showed scenarios introducing alien beings to earthly concepts with titles or captions that read, “My Alien and Me.” Most depicted examples of media and society that would delight, offend, or awaken intense emotions in non-human beings.
All of this had me suddenly swept up into the thought of befriending an extraterrestrial. What could I share with my new pal to make their transition to life on Earth easier? In my experience, I have always felt quite alien myself. I have looked to neurotypicals as “normal humans.” I’d marvel at allistic cleverness to decode this planet’s many unwritten rules and social norms. Befriending an extraterrestrial would be my chance to share the knowledge I learned on my quest to be a “normal human.”
First, I would unveil one of life’s biggest secrets: there is no such thing as “normal.” Being an outsider can feel awkward, and it is super tempting to “mask” or shove your emotions down and pretend to be someone else to please others. I would caution my alien against doing this as it only leads to intense burnout. Minimizing who we are for the sake of others never works out. Being authentic may feel lonely sometimes, but the right people will appreciate and embrace your uniqueness.
Saving my alien from more unnecessary hardship, I’d set the bar slightly lower for their Earthly experience with another bombshell truth. It is impossible to meet every expectation of this complex planet. Instead, we should do our best with what we have. Some basic etiquette is essential to uphold. Intentionally hurting others or anything else is never acceptable. Other rules are okay to bend or have what we call gray areas. Strive to maintain basic courtesy without losing yourself. Finding the right balance is a constant challenge, even for us Earthlings.
Civility and rules aside, I want to remain curious about my alien’s interests. How fun would it be to learn all about their likes and dislikes? Discovering their preferences for food and drinks alone would be an epic cinematic montage. Does their planet experience seasons like ours does? Is there an alien equivalent of a crisp fall day, buried in cozy sweaters, warm and caffeinated with cosmic Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Are there cartoons, superheroes, or actors where they come from? Regardless of how peculiar their answers may be, I vow never to mock or belittle them for sharing with me.
As someone passionate about art, I would be thrilled to explore my alien’s creativity. We could do many art projects in the spare bedroom, which I call my “Art Studio.” We could tear through the bins of papers and magazines and create collages. We could dig into the tackle box of acrylic paint and cover canvases with whatever came to mind. Of course, if my alien isn’t comfortable with artistic freedom and unlimited supplies, I would be happy to help them find other ways to express themselves. After all, self-expression can extend to our fashion choices. We could piece together some genuinely unique outfits from the vast selection of items at the thrift store.
My extraterrestrial friend may feel discouraged on this unfamiliar planet. Even those of us who are experienced humans can feel defeated at times. In my experience, patience, community, and faith can go a long way in any struggle. Leaning into the belief that things work themselves out beyond our most exasperated persistence has always lightened my burdens. Additionally, the communities I associate with are always happy to welcome new friends. We joke a lot, so the sarcasm might take a little while to get used to. In their hearts, my friends are very supportive. We celebrate each other’s successes. They would do the same for any newcomer.
As crazy as it sounds, aliens may integrate into our society. I look forward to welcoming them as new friends. A curious, kind, and creative mindset could help us connect with them and overcome differences. Life on Earth is full of ups and downs, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as “normal.” Most importantly, let’s all remember to be proud of our unique qualities, whether alien or human.