Question: I’ve been having a problem with a friend of mine, and I could really use your advice.

I was looking on your blog to see if there was any news about the new Alice book, and I realized that you have been posting people’s questions an d concerns and answering them with advice. I’ve been having a problem with a friend of mine, and I could really use your advice.
I’ve been best friends with this girl for almost four years, and at the beginning of our friendship we were really compatible – we loved the same things, and basically could read each other’s minds, we were so similar. This year, in tenth grade, though, she started getting really interested in going out. For her, now, having fun on the weekends means wandering around with random boys, drinking, and hooking up with about three people every weekend. She started hanging out with these girls who I like in general, but who are really sexually promiscuous and who love getting drunk and doing crazy stuff. I’m not opposed to maybe drinking a tiny bit every now and then, and I’m certainly not opposed to meeting guys, but she thinks it makes her really cool, and it’s really getting on my nerves. I’m more of a homebody – I’d rather stay at home reading than go out partying.
Even worse, she doesn’t even invite me when she does go out with them. I wouldn’t necessarily go, but that doesn’t mean I like being excluded like that. And then on Mondays she comes into school ranting about all the “crazy mad shit” she did. It drives me crazy, and it also kind of scares me. It seems like everyone my age is into this, except the super college-tracked types.
We also haven’t had any fights or anything, but she gets really passive aggressive and very competitive with me. For instance, she has been told over and over again by the newspaper staff that her articles are bad. I, however, have been told that they are good. She told me that she hates newspaper now, yet she is still applying for editor, limiting my chances of getting it. If she doesn’t like it, she shouldn’t do it! She’s also super, super geared towards going to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. I want to go to a smaller liberal arts school, like Middlebury or Swathmore. She told me that “if you don’t go to an Ivy, you’re better off not going to college at all.” She also thinks that we should be judged on our test scores alone, not our personalities at all. This was clearly a direct jab at me, because I am not a very good test taker, but I consider myself a talented writer. Does she think I don’t deserve to go to a good school because I’m bad at multiple choice?
Anyway, this got really long. I haven’t ranted about this in a while. You can shorten this if you post it on your blog. Basically what I’m asking is if there is any way I can fix this. My grade is REALLY small, so breaking off the friendship would cause a huge rift. Also, she’s really one of my only friends at school, so I would be left without many close friends. I just wish our friendship could go back to how it was in seventh grade, when we were content with going to Starbucks and going home to watch Harry Potter or something. I don’t think it can, though, not with the way she’s changed.

PHYLLIS Replied:
No, I don’t think your relationship is going back to watching Harry Potter. And I don’t, unfortunately, think you two are going to remain close friends. High school seems to be the big sorting ground and, sad as it seems, it’s doing you a favor. It’s helping you define your own values, who you are as a person, what is important to you in life, and what gives you pleasure and satisfaction. It’s so tempting, I know, to want to sacrifice what you like to do for what some of the other kids think is fun. Remember that you are not a judge. No one is asking you to put labels on what you or your friends do. But if you are untrue to yourself, you may be turning off other people who enjoy the things that are really you. My question: why do you put so much stock in this girl’s opinions? Why does her “crazy mad shit” make you feel you are missing out? How can you do anything but laugh when she says utterly ridicu! lous things, such as “If you don’t go to an Ivy league, you’re better off not going to college at all.” Since when would Swarthmore not be considered a terrific school? I think you know the answers to these questions. This girl is trying so hard to be considered attractive, hot, popular, smart…. Somebody that defensive has some serious self-esteem problems, and there’s a reason she would prefer to be judged by her grades, not her personality. My advice: Stay “friends,” but stick to what makes you feel good about yourself. She has a lot of changing to do, and don’t be surprised if somewhere along the line, she turns more conservative than you are, and you turn out to be the free spirit. And please don’t label kids who aren’t like her as “the super college track types.” Perhaps you ought to get to know some better. You may find they are more creative, more original, and more fun to be with! than this former best friend.

Posted on: March 26, 2009


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