We have been friends for quite some time. I remember walking hand-in-hand with you on my first day of third grade. We were making our way into the classroom, excited with a tummy full of butterflies, when you pulled me back and whispered, “your backpack is kind of lame for the third grade.” That’s when I realized I needed you. Who else would be so honest about the apparently sad state of my taste in backpacks?
I remember when you pointed out a girl in my 6th grade class and said, “Her. That’s who you need to look like.” She was slender and tan, with thick black hair that reached to her midback. I was pale, with blonde, stringy hair and stubborn baby fat. That night we went home and both gawked in the mirror as I stared at myself in a new pair of pants. “You might as well be that loser Tina with those on,” you said, and we both laughed. And then I cried.
I remember the time in 9th grade when you pointed out a group of cool-looking seniors who were smoking cigarettes and wearing low-cut shirts that barely covered their nipples. I asked you how they had anything to do with me. You said, “that’s who you need to be, if you want to be cool in this school.”
I remember our freshman year of college together, when I felt so alone and had no idea what to make of that big new world where my name was unknown and I had no idea where to begin when it came to finding my way. But I guess I wasn’t completely alone – you were there. And like the dependable friend you’ve always been, you showed me the way. You led me to a group of girls who looked like they had it all together but were really just as insecure and alone as I was. We spent our time drinking cheap beer, hanging out with bad boys, and pointing out each other’s flaws and awkwardness. And you loved every moment of it.
While you have certainly been one of the most faithful friends I have ever had, I am writing this letter to tell you goodbye.
Here’s the thing: I’ve come to find that your advice and your regular input on who am I is one of the biggest roadblocks on my path to becoming who I want to be. I know you don’t mean to, but you seem to know just what to say to bring to attention those things which I am most uncomfortable with about myself. From the moment I look in the mirror in the morning to the lingering thoughts I have at night, your constant whispers and taunts have caused me to question everything I am trying so hard to believe about myself.
I know you are only trying to protect me – and I appreciate that. But I’ve realized that rather than fan the flames of my fire, you pour water on them. And rather than reassure my decisions and my appearance and my choice of lovers and my work abilities and my capacity to be a good friend, you question it. You question everything I do. And I can’t take it any longer.
So, my dear insecurities, I am leaving you behind. And in your absence, I will work hard to kindle my relationship with another, more promising friend. Her name is self-confidence.