A letter

For my ex-best friend


Graphic | Irene Tang

Irene Tang

I remember when we first met in seventh grade as two students with entirely different expectations for how our year would go. That moment our paths crossed that afternoon in Literature class was when I watched you scribble your name on my Bingo Icebreaker worksheet, circling boxes that consisted of fun facts. Despite my nervousness, I gathered the courage to ask you: 

“Is your last name Russian?” Little did I know, this naive question would lead to a close friendship for the next four years. 

Memories from our middle school years blur together, but I remember almost all of our happiest moments — we weren’t in the same friend group but I would often stay after school with you and your friends as we excitedly skipped towards 7/11, unsure if we would be spending the $5 dollars our parents gave us on a Big Gulp or a Slurpee. We grew so close in the span of a few years, my outgoing personality perfectly balancing out your shy one. In high school we did everything together: we giggled as we shared our embarrassing moments, telling each other stories about periods, tampons and pool parties. 

One day, an argument turned everything upside down. We both gave each other the cold shoulder, each hurt by the words the other had said. I expected us to make up within a week, but weeks stretched into months, and now, more than a year has gone by. Neither of us was willing to put aside our pride at the time to admit to our wrongs, until it became too late. 

At first, I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t believe that my best friend no longer cared about me. I didn’t want to see you walk past me every day and ignore my presence as if I had been such an insignificant part of your life when you were everything in mine. I avoided your gaze as we passed each other, pretending like your presence didn’t bother me. Being left out of my own friend group stung me — did everyone actually hate me all along? Did anybody ever care about my feelings or were they just … being nice the whole time? 

As the weather transitioned from mid-autumn to winter, my seasonal depression had never been worse. My self-confidence severely plummeted in those two months and paired with the stress of junior year courses, I had never felt so unhappy. To avoid you, I cooped up by myself in the library during lunch instead of eating, pretending that I had work to do. I masked my hurt and disgust at myself with my hatred for you. 

It wasn’t until one night as I was looking through old pictures in my camera roll did memories of our friendship come flooding back into my mind. This recollection was different than before, and I started to reflect on everything that happened. I realized how surface-level our friendship was — while we physically hung out, emotionally, we didn’t know each other at all. I don’t think I even ever knew what your favorite color was. 

I took our friendship for granted, I’ll admit. I just expected us to stay friends forever, never needing to strengthen our bonds or check in with one another outside of school. We simply served as a presence to avoid being alone. Needed a partner in APUSH? You were there for me. Need someone to sit on the bus with on our school field trips? I put your name down. My bathroom buddy. My blanket-sharer at football games.

Maybe that’s why we didn’t talk about quarantine. Maybe that’s why I felt heavily excluded from group conversations and never had anything to say. Coming back to school, I felt that we had grown apart as I noticed that the topics we were interested in rarely aligned. We never had arguments, and never knew what it felt like to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. 

I want to let you know that despite our parting on bad terms, you will always hold a special place in my heart. Without you, I wouldn’t have learned that it’s impossible for relationships to grow stronger without both parties being willing to put down their pride and be vulnerable through communication. Without you, I’ve grown in ways I would have never imagined — the biggest is learning to love and prioritize myself. My happiness should never be reliant on anybody else. Through learning to be independent, I’ve built a mindset that being confident is attractive, and I should always channel that mindset toward others. 

So, after a year of reflection and growth, I want to say thank you. Thank you for shaping the person I am today. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself and learn how to be my own person. I wish you nothing but the best in the future, and if it’s meant to be, may our paths cross again.