Dear 19-year old Me,
I thought of you recently and re-lived some things that you are going to encounter. Some of the stuff is funny and some aren’t. Most of it you will learn lessons from right away, some you’ll only learn years later. Which is why I write this to you now. There was one incident that I remembered and I want to tell you about, so when you sit in your room at night, staring at your ceiling, wondering why people treat you this way, you’ll understand.
There will be a time where you will go to someone’s house, because your friend, S, wanted to go. You aren’t comfortable with the idea of going cause this person is not a friend of yours. But, I know that you just want to prove that you are as good and loyal a friend as this person is to S. You’ve always battled with feeling inferior to others – you weren’t as fun or rebellious, and not because you couldn’t be, it just wasn’t In your nature. As you get older, you’ll realize that your role in S’s life was never as close a friend as you held her to be in your own. I know it’s hard for you to grasp that now. But that’s why I want to warn you about this incident.
When you arrive at the house, you’ll hang out and try to be a part of the conversation. They’ll share inside jokes and you’ll force a laugh, like you know what they mean. They’ll talk about the crazy things they did together, and you’ll start to feel like a loser because you couldn’t relate. As the evening goes on, S and her friend will leave you in the living room, while they go into the room. For hours, she will leave you alone with people you barely know. People are wondering who you are or why you were even there. Looking back now, I wonder if S didn’t want you to come at all. What if she felt like she had to babysit you? I remember how you felt sitting there, as people walked in and out of the house while you just sat there — unnoticed and forgotten, awkwardly watching something on tv. I remember how you felt when you asked to go home, and she made you feel like crap because you wanted to cut her night short.
This won’t be the first time she does this. She’ll do it again, except this time you will be on a trip out of state – for what you thought would be a bonding trip — but actually that’s when you should have said goodbye.
The relationship you had couldn’t withstand the test of time. But, oh, how desperately you cling to it, hoping that the memories will be enough. But it isn’t. She won’t accept your honesty — although in her defense, you had a sucky way of sharing your honesty. She wanted a friend that would accept all her choices no matter what. You wouldn’t be able to do that. And she won’t like it. That heated conversation will change your relationship forever. What you thought you were expressing as love and concern for your friend, she misunderstood, and probably took it as you throwing her under the bus. And maybe you were. Maybe you were tired of your diminishing role and wanted to get her attention. Maybe, just maybe, you were tired of feeling like an itch she couldn’t get rid of. You didn’t want to get pushed out without a fight. And you got one. And she won. Sometimes, I wonder now, if she was always looking for a way to get you out, but just didn’t have the heart to. This time, you just happened to provide it.
But even despite all these red flags, you still hold on to hope that your friendship will be that of legends. You were inseparable. You believe that will remain true.
But it won’t.
Because the truth of the matter is, her expectation and definition of your friendship is far different than yours. You may consider her your friend, but she doesn’t you. You are a funny, chubby sidekick. You’re the “Waldo” to her “Eddie Winslow”. An afterthought. And if you stick around long enough you would be living in the shadow of someone else.
You weren’t meant for a shadow, beloved.
This is why you always fight these perplexing feelings about your friendship with her. That feeling you get where you wonder why she is so secretive around you, or so willing to leave you behind? Where you are left wondering why this didn’t seem deep and meaningful? That’s the red flag, beloved. The moment you start wondering and questioning someone’s role in your life,then you have to know your conscience is telling you to let it go.
You felt like the third wheel, because you were. You felt out of place, because you were. You are a round peg forcing yourself into a square hole.
And I want to try to stop you. I want you to know the person you are. That you don’t have to be angry at the world — the people around you don’t understand you because the dreams you have aren’t meant for them to understand. And what they don’t understand, they don’t like. You will never fit in with them. You’ll never be the cool girl, you’ll never be the pretty girl, you’ll never be the girl that gets all the guys.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay.
Because you’ll grow up to be an independent, strong woman. You’ll learn to define yourself based on your own findings not on other’s opinions.
And all those people you so tirelessly chase after and give pieces of yourself to? They aren’t a part of your life now anyway. Nope….not even her. All gone. Chalk it up to life, love, and other mysteries (Yes, that Point of Grace lyric is still valid in 2013). You have grown up to see that those relationships weren’t feeding you.
Don’t give another piece of yourself to them. You will be left broken, bruised, and battered. They will return those pieces you have so loyally and willingly given them, used-abused-and worn out. And while you sit and stare at those pieces, wondering how to put yourself back together, you will give up on yourself. You will drown yourself in food and other unhealthy habits that destroy you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And I want you to know, they’re not worth it.
They’re not worth the self-loathing, the pain, or the mutilation that you will put yourself through. Beloved, you are not defined by your relationships. You don’t need them to define you. YOU define YOU. You choose the trajectory that you want your life to take.
She will move on with her life, without you playing a part in it. Be sad. Mourn the loss of what could have been. Then stand up, dust yourself off, and remember that every season must end and change. Learn what you can. Remember what you want.
And know that one day she will be on the other end watching the life she could have been a part of if she had just given you the chance to be her best friend.