Letter #134

Content Warnings: depression, self-deprecation, social ostracization, abandonment, friendship trauma


Fun fact: I have 0 real friends. Unless you count my mom. And maybe my dog, but he just cuddles with me when my dad is too busy to. It’s not like everyone is rude or unlikeable, but I just don’t think I can trust anyone anymore. 


Let me explain.


Freshman year was pretty typical. I walked into homeroom not knowing a single person. Except this one guy who was a pretty good friend from middle school. But surprise surprise, we don’t have any classes together. I was pretty bummed out about having to start my friend group from scratch, which was made worse because of the pandemic. My best friend since the 6th grade ended up going to a high school that was closer to her house. We tried keeping in touch on social media, but texting every day turned into every Saturday, which turned into once a month, which turned into the occasional like of my story. 


But I was optimistic, and I took this as an opportunity to meet new people. After all, these are the people that would make or break my “high school experience”. After avoiding eye contact with people all through 1st period, I walked into my 2nd period class, which was Principles of Finance. It had a pretty diverse range of people, from those obnoxious and loud football jocks to the quiet girl in the corner who was always absorbed in her book. I found a space close to the back and sat down. A girl catches my attention from the corner of my eye as she walks in. She’s one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen, from her silky straight black hair, her “woke up like this” makeup, and her coordinated outfit that looked like it came straight out of Pinterest. As fate would have it, we were assigned as partners for our first project of the school year, along with another girl I remembered from middle school. As we were talking, I very tactfully slid in the fact that I had no one to eat with during lunch, and she happily invited me to eat with her. She ate with another boy, who I also ended up befriending. As we all talked, we realized we all had the same 3rd-period biology class too. We headed to class together, and that was the start of my villain origin story.


But hey, things were looking up, right? She and I were inseparable. We went to the library to study together, we went to football games together, we were roommates on school trips, and we even did an entrepreneurship project that won 1st place against 30 other teams. Since we were both the first daughters of immigrant parents, we were able to easily relate to one another, and it seemed like I just found my platonic high school sweetheart, who might go on to be my college roommate, and maybe even colleague.


Everything took a turn on one fateful November day in 2022. To look better on college applications, we both decided to start a club at our school. However, a club means club meetings, which means people, and people means needing materials like snacks and stationery for activities. We had a group chat of people interested in helping out with the club, and we had a small disagreement about how things should operate in the club.


Not a big deal right? 


Most of the people in the group chat were either close friends of mine or close friends of hers. Since it was pretty split, I took the executive decision to say that we should first worry about having our interest meeting, and seeing how popular our club is. I thought, “well, problem solved.”


I came to school the next day, in our usual morning meeting spot before the bell rang. We usually talk about a song we listened to or try to quickly cram before a test, but not today. I see her, with two of our mutual friends. I say hi, but no one responds. They all start having their conversation as if I wasn’t there, shooting glances at me as if I didn’t notice. I thought maybe they hung out without me or something, and they didn’t want me to feel bad. 1st period goes by, and I go to 2nd period, the class we all share. I sit down at our table and no one even looks up. They all just cast me out, like I was nothing. Even the ones that were supposedly “on my side” pretended I wasn’t even there. After that, things started happening fast. They replaced me with another girl who they used to talk about behind her back. I ended up pretty alone, and it hurt like hell. I lost my best friend AND my entire friend group for the pettiest reasons. Our late-night calls struggling to finish homework, our long walks and talks at the park, all the amazing memories we had together, all of it vanished into thin air.


Should I have been the bigger person and apologized?


But it wasn’t even my fault.


Why are my own friends siding with her?


Am I really that unlikable?


Was our friendship worth nothing?


I came home and walked into my mom’s room and cried in her arms for hours. My mom told me that sometimes God removes people from our lives early on, so it doesn’t hurt us in the future. I reluctantly believed her and started focusing more on myself. 


A few months pass by and I’m recovering pretty well. We were going on a school competition trip, and I put all my time and focus into my work. I started talking more and more to my childhood best friend; so much to the point that her friend group adopted me as one of theirs. We were a fun group. We had parties, we went out for food, and we became a close-knit bunch. On the school competition trip, almost everyone in the friend group placed in the Top 10 teams, and we advanced to the international competition, which was a one-week stay in Orlando.


My life was at its peak. I was doing well in my school activities. I had an amazing friend group. My parents were proud of me. What more could I ask for? The trip was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. From staying up until two am waiting for our doordash tacos to waiting fours in line at Universal to go on the Hulk ride. I made some of the best memories of my life there. And just like that, the school year was over.


They are all older than me, so over the summer, they got busy with college applications and part-time jobs. I was busy too, with church activities and studying for the SAT. Finally, the first day of school is here. I walk in with a new haircut, expecting my good ol’ friend group to greet me. What greeted me was a reality check. They were all together, laughing and acting like I wasn’t there. I said hi and they said it back, but they were more focused on all the fun things they did together. Whenever I texted them, I got a “can we rain-check” or “I’m busy, sorry.” It wasn’t the same as the last time I was cast off, though. They still included me now and then, and they still respected me and were kind to me. That made it even worse. They felt pity and an obligation to be kind to me; they didn’t like and enjoy me for who I was. 


That’s when I felt the most alone I have ever felt in my life, and I started becoming extremely depressed. I lost passion for things I loved, and I cried every day. I felt unlovable; I felt like an outcast. 


That brings us to the present. Maybe it was because of my past experiences with people, but I have become a lot more extroverted, and I have sort of become that “floater” friend. I’ll hang out with freshmen in between classes, and then eat lunch with seniors, but I wouldn’t call any of them closer than an acquaintance. I did meet one girl who I thought I had a special connection with, but if she had to pick me or her actual friend group, I wouldn’t stand a chance.


I’m on my own now and I’m mostly fine with it. I still talk to everyone in my old group, albeit short and superficial. I realize now that during both of those stages in my life, I was an extreme people pleaser, and the consequences of that are hitting harder now than they have ever hit. I’m not sure what my character traits are. Am I extroverted because I just am, or because it’s the only way people acknowledge me? Am I a funny person, or is that something that I’ve learned to make friends? I don’t want to know the answers to these questions. I’m okay with just being friendly with people and cracking a joke with someone when I feel like it. Maybe friends aren’t for me. 


Only one more year of high school, then college. Maybe I’ll try that “friend” thing again.


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