I have a friend who considers me her “bestie”. However, we have nothing in common. She is one of the most popular girls in the first year. I got along well with her, until I found out that she thinks my opinions don’t matter much. I personally think she is too dominating as she always wants to talk about her interests and never mine. She explicitly told me she has no interest in movies, memes, videogames and books. She only wants me to talk to her about herself. She constantly drags me away from my other friends. When I point this out, she says things like “You don’t care about me, you don’t want to get close to anybody, you are so shallow…” in front of my classmates. Her arguments usually prevail because I’m not comfortable talking about my feelings and I clam up. I don’t want to be around her anymore because she always picks senseless fights with me. How do I get her out of my life without any drama and fuss? I’ve tried telling this to her directly and immediately regretted it. Please help me.
Thank you for writing in and discussing your predicament with me. Friendships do get complex sometimes but it is more about being around those who are like-minded so that you don’t have to keep explaining yourself and more often than not, you are understood without even having to try. Winnie the Pooh said something really important, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you are down and if they can’t, then they just lay down beside you and listen.” It seems clear that your friendship is purely one-sided as opposed to it being a two-way street. Friends are people who encourage you to grow, make you feel valued, understand your strengths, accept your weaknesses and respect your opinion because you matter! A reality of life is that some things are toxic – it could come in the form or family, friends or people in your surroundings. But it’s entirely our choice of how much we let them affect us. Why do you regret standing up for yourself? If you don’t, who else will? You need to reassess your own worth first and then stand up for the wonderful and gifted person that you are. Maintain eye contact and be firm when you tell her that the friendship you share with her doesn’t make you feel important, happy or comfortable. Don’t worry about the drama that follows, it adds to the spice in life. Stay true to yourself and walk away respectfully when the drama ends or gets too boring to deal with. Remember that you are priceless and nobody deserves to make you feel anything less. Shine bright!
How did you manage 15+ years of school without going crazy? I feel depressed to go to class and don’t want to attend anymore because of its unpleasant rules. I initially expected it to be a better experience than my school years because of the leniency of teachers and less restrictions. However, I feel bogged down by its pressures. How do I feel positive about the entire experience and not feel like I’m stuck here my whole life? My teachers don’t attempt to understand us as youngsters and only dole out harsh punishments. A working life is much better and the quality of life is much better compared to this.
Thanks for your email and for sharing your challenging situation. We often create our own heartbreaks because of expectations. I’m sorry that you feel pressured by all the rules of your educational institution; however, rules are created and followed in order to maintain discipline and ensure smooth functioning of the institution. The most reputed schools are the ones that have strict rules and when seeking admission, we only want the best. I guess it is a give and take situation! Surely, your institution has almost the same number or common rules as any other, so maybe it’s your expectations that are making it hard for you to accept and follow them. Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side but if you took time to water your own side, it would appear just the same. Be happy with where you are and what you have as some people desire something better and end up with worse.
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(The columnist is a psychologist and counsellor at the Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance.)