“Some of the things you do really annoy me, it’s not that you’re doing something particularly wrong but I feel like we’re only friends for your benefit and it’s the thing I hate the most. You know those people who you never really talk to outside of class but who constantly pester you during lab hours.. I’m just giving you the treatment you deserve.”
Wow, that even hurt to translate. This is the reply I got from my friend when I asked him why he was acting so cold towards me.
Dearest reader, have you ever had a friend break up with you? With such harsh words? This is probably the worst thing he could have said to me. One, he says he can’t stand me; two, he says I’m the type of person he hates the most; three, he compares me to a lab parasite (which is downright insulting). And worst of all, what he’s saying makes me feel like my personality’s just all wrong- like I’m a bad person.
At first I just thought, is this guy crazy? We always do homework together, he helps me, I help him, it’s what friends do for each other. Since when is it wrong to ask your friends for help?
Then I started thinking… Why was I so upset? Was I worried that what he said might actually be true? Had I become the type of person who only befriends people to take advantage of them? I was immediately reminded of something Franny said in “Franny and Zooey”:
“I’m not afraid to compete. It’s just the opposite. Don’t you see that? I’m afraid I will compete — that’s what scares me. That’s why I quit the Theatre Department. Just because I’m so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else’s values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn’t make it right. I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash.”
When you begin thinking you’ve become what you hate the most, what you’re most afraid of becoming- in my case someone with a calculating mind- it really hits you hard. I began observing my other friends. How often did they ask me for favors? How often did I ask them? Did they act like they actually liked me? Was there a difference between lab parasites and distant-ish friends who ask for help?
You’re not supposed to think of things like that though, reader. It gets incredibly lonely. Friends are simply friends and that’s it. That is all they’re for.
After questioning myself, my friends and trying to find pieces of comfort and reassurance; trying to ignore the voice in the back of my head saying all sorts of awful things, I finally feel better. Despite what my friend says about me, I still think I’m okay. I like Salinger far too much to become a calculating person after all. Not even my ego or my ambitions can change that.