I know that you will never approve of me, no matter what I do. It’s easy to tell with some people that their opinion of you will always be colored by a strange mixture of competition and resentment — even under the best friendships, there can lie an undercurrent of insecure disdain. But with you, it’s more obvious than most. You do not approve of the things I have chosen to be, and are most content when taking passive-aggressive digs at everything you take most significant issue with. There are some things that you’re more tolerant of — you approve of my relationship, maybe, or the way I style my hair — but almost every life choice is rendered in some way insufficient under your gaze.
I am not perfect, and have never pretended to be. I think that the people who go about life claiming to have everything under control — especially at my age — come across as more desperate to impress than anything else. I’m sure that every day, multiple times per day, I make easily avoidable mistakes in every aspect of my life. I pay too much in rent, I stay out too late, I eat too much junk food. I don’t always take the best care of myself, and am very much still in the process of learning how to better myself. I have never said this wasn’t the case.
But learning how to be that better person is infinitely easier when you don’t feel as though someone is waiting for you not to succeed. Almost every step I make is predetermined for your palate, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I think about you and what you will think before I take important steps in my life. I know that you will judge me, I know that you will have a few unkind or needlessly critical words, but I can’t help myself. There is a part of me that wants to impress you with increasing urgency everytime you don’t give me a passing grade. Perhaps I have become addicted to your disapproval, or maybe I just want a standard I know I’ll never be good enough to reach. It’s easier when you know from the get-go that you’re going to fail.
Of course, the best course of action would be to stop talking to you. It would be to cut you out of my life with the efficiency surgeons use for the most operable of tumors. I know that you are operable — that I am not bound to you by some unwritten law of friendship or personal debt. I could wake up tomorrow and decide that I don’t need to listen to you when you say that something isn’t good enough, that I don’thave to take your opinion into account. This would be what I woudl recommend to anyone else in my position. I would look at that person and say, “Hey. You don’t need to worry about them, they’re worth nothing in your life. Just forget about them and move on.”
But moving on is never an easy choice, least of all when you’ve come to depend on someone in a way that is entirely dependent on them being who they are and no one else. Because you do have your moments — we have our moments. I wouldn’t care about your disapproving opinions if I didn’t love you on some level, if I wasn’t interested in impressing you. I can’t erase you from my life because there is a part of you that is desperately important to me, and I don’t want to see it go just yet.
I wish I didn’t care what you think. I wish that I could just hear your biting comments and let them roll off my back — chalk them up to insecurity and move on with life. But I can’t, at least not for now. I guess I only wish that you were more kind, more gentle, and understood that to have someone in your life is a precious thing. None of us are owed the friendship or love of another human being — and there’s no reason to waste it on being petty when you have it. I hope that you will one day see that to be harsh with another person’s life gains us nothing, and to be harsh with a friend only stands to make us all lose. I don’t want to lose, but I fear I already have.