Light was streaming in through the mostly empty, half-unpacked dorm room as I sat on the generic desk with one of my best friends, Salma.
She mentioned how before she even met me, she had heard my name around campus and had this idea of me in her head without ever knowing me. She expected me to be rude, condescending and cliquey when she met me but what she got was someone completely different.
A few months ago, this would’ve cut deep.
I used to take personal offense when I’d hear the things said about me. I wanted to take each of these individuals to lunch and show them that I was a nice human, “I swear I’m not an asshole!” but something about this year hardened me and my response was nothing more than a “aren’t you glad that’s not really me?”
People talk shit. It’s a fact of life I’ve come to accept.
We all do it in varying degrees, in different ways.
Everyone wants to be ‘in the know’.
Chances are, your name has been mentioned in conversations you’re never gonna know about. Your picture might have floated around a groupchat, people probably have judgements about you despite never meeting you in person. It sucks but it’s just the truth.
That being said, there’s a stark difference in ranting about an encounter with someone to your best friend and then using any opportunity to talk negatively about someone. It’s one thing to speak about your experiences with someone and then speak about their character entirely. There’s a difference between venting (which is healthy) and backbiting but it’s a fine line to walk.
I used to hate the idea of people talking about me without knowing who I really am. But at some point I realized that I’m a human and I’ve fucked up plenty. I’m sure I’ve unintentionally hurt people and made mistakes I genuinely can’t help but be sorry for. Some judgments people have about might be from stories where I’m sure I’m the bad guy whether or not I meant it.
More than that though, I’ve remained fairly open about my beliefs and about how I view the world despite being part of a fairly conservative, brown community. People don’t like what’s different. I remember I got talked about first semester for being in a sorority even though many of the sisters in my sorority were ten times as genuine and kind as the girls that were talking about me. I never cared to blend in how they wanted me to, with my clothes, hair, or personality. Even now, I intend to remain the truest form of myself and stay open about how I practice religion and how I view culture and if I’m not their cup of tea, that’s okay. And if they’re so bored with their own life that they want to talk about me, that’s okay too.
Random people talk shit. It’s a fact of life but when people you trust begin to do it, lines get blurry.
I find that’s when it stings the most.
I’ve been lucky enough to mostly encounter great friends throughout most of my life. I’d hear about bad friendship experiences, but I never had that in my own life. All of that changed this year.
It’s easy for me to not talk about this but I always say I want to be as raw as possible on this blog so that’s what I’m doing. I know I’m not the first to go through experiences like this and I won’t be the last.
College is a strange time, everyone is going through so much change and everyone is thrown into an environment where they’re living, eating and working with people exclusively their age. Especially my school, tiny and private but what we lack in size, we make up for in gossip.
There was a series of different kinds of people I was friends with before I found ‘my group’. As a naturally extroverted person, I go to people to about my problems and unwind with. As a naturally trusting person, I don’t expect them to do anything bad with that. Unfortunately, a lot of the friends I made this year probably didn’t deserve that kind of respect.
My friendships were emotional whirlwinds this year. I had ‘friends’ lie to my face during the day and try to get photos together for the ‘gram the same night. I had ‘friends’ warn others against me while listening to my most personal struggles over facetime the same night. I had ‘friends’ talk profusely about me behind my back as they commented cute and clever comments on my Instagram. I started to see this superficial world as my reality.
Maybe it was the faux ‘I appreciate you’ paragraphs or nightly facetime calls that really brought it together. Or maybe it was the fake greetings with the “I haven’t seen you in SO long”. Perhaps it was the times I confronted them and they tried to squander my concerns with pretenses of good intentions or even flat out lies. And this isn’t to one person in particular, or any one instance, this sort of cycle became my reality.
Every single one of these ‘friends’ had their actions stem from insecurity or some other personal issue that I’m learning had nothing to do with me. And that is why despite my greatest efforts, I find it difficult to have negative feelings towards them. Fake friends are a trope as old as time and it was about time that I encountered some. I trusted naively and almost to a fault, I needed experiences like that to help me learn. At the end of the day, I honestly just pray they resolve their issues with themselves.
I thank them every day because I needed to meet every single one of them to have the amazing group of friends I have now. I also needed to meet every single one of them to learn all that I’ve learned now about myself, and about others. I believe everyone comes into your life for a reason and if it’s not to stay, it’s to teach so I thank them for all that they’ve taught me.
The reason I call these friendships and these friends ‘fake’ is because everything about these relationships seemed surface level. True friendship is based on trust, love and acceptance. No facades, no backbiting, no judgment, just support.
I’m never opposed to meeting new people or having new friends but perhaps I do come off as cliquey sometimes only because once I find my people, I keep them close. Currently, I have the best people around. My best friend group, ‘gang gang’ as we ironically began to call ourselves one day, is filled with the most amazing group of girls I know. I can tell any of them anything and know from the bottom of my heart that it isn’t going anywhere. But beyond them, I’ve found so many people I can actually trust and love and I thank my stars every day.
And those are my true friends. In order to find these treasured relationships though, I needed to sift through the ones that weren’t so great. It’s funny because despite the fact that many of the things I told these ‘friends’ in confidence were spread around like rumors in a middle school cafeteria, I still keep their secrets to this day. A part of me wants to spill just because I can but I find I can’t get off the high road even if I tried.
Honestly, to this day, I have trouble understanding why anyone would so much time and energy to pretend to be friends with someone if they’re gonna turn around to talk bad about them or lie to them. The concept is absurd to me. You don’t need to be an asshole to people but there’s no need to pretend to be good friends.
Maybe that’s just the kind of thing I’ll never understand. I can’t control what people say about me but I can control my actions and make sure I surround myself with love.
I always say ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and in order to have the truest friends, you need to be the truest form of yourself. And maybe my truest form wasn’t meant to be with these people’s truest form and that’s okay. I’ve found people who I can connect with on a much deeper level.
If you feel you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to cut people out if they’re bringing negative energy into your life. Take time for yourself, watch yourself grow. You are all you have and you don’t deserve to feel less then because of other people.
If your friends are making you feel bad about yourself or if you’re beginning to see that they don’t have the best intentions for you, leave and don’t look back. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been friends with someone or why, you only have limited amount of time on this planet and there’s no use spending it with people who don’t want the best for you.
Sure, I will probably continue to see most of the friends I had this past year at events and around school and probably will agree when they say we should hang out soon but I’ll be glad that we actually won’t. I’m happy where I am and with the people I’ve surrounded myself with. It’s important to find people you vibe with and it’s important to connect with people honestly.
And if you haven’t, you will.
Good things take time.
But until then, thank every single person who has come into and left your life because they have made you, you.