This I Believe

Erica - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 11, 2007

Do You Even Care?

I was bashful and unconfident in the fourth grade. My class was full of the “popular girls,” and they really intimidated me. Fortunately, there was another girl in my class that shared some of my timid characteristics, and we quickly became good friends. As we entered middle school, it appeared that we were close, but I felt like I was always seeking her approval in our friendship. With me, she seemed bored and uninterested, and I was completely ignored when other people were around. This happened all the time, and it made me feel insecure and unimportant. In high school, things just got worse. When I would try to express my opinion, she would shoot me down. I grew tired of being snubbed, and learned that it was just easier to keep my thoughts to myself. I assumed that it was my fault that she treated me so coldly at times, so I tried harder to be a better friend. I brought her balloons on her birthday, invited her on family vacations, never criticized her judgments, and was always there for her. But no matter what I did, nothing ever seemed good enough for her. I was never good enough.

I was constantly confused about our friendship because I thought I was doing all the right things to be a good friend. I even tried to convince myself that shoplifting was acceptable, because she had picked up this habit. She would call me and say, “Let’s go shopping!” and I would just be happy that she wanted to hang out with me. I would go and pick her up and then we would head to Target, where I would watch her slyly stick items like makeup and sports bras in her purse. All the while I would battle with my conscience and tell myself that everything was okay in order to persuade myself that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was my friend, and I did not want to lose her. Now I have finally come to realize that a “friend” is hardly what she was to me. For the eight years that our friendship endured, I felt that her constant negativity ate away at my spirit and my soul. I finally couldn’t take it any longer. It’s been about nine months since I last spoke to her.

This whole ordeal with my ex-friend has taught me how important the act of appreciation is. It is sometimes difficult to realize the value of something until you’ve lost it, so I have taken the opportunity to step back and become conscious of how privileged I am. My family is still together, and they love and support me. I am now surrounded by true friends that really care about my well-being. I am healthy and in good shape, not to mention that I can eat as many cookies as I want and hardly gain any weight. I am intelligent and have access to a great deal of knowledge. I live in America, where I can act and think freely and have the opportunity to accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Everyday I remind myself about the things I should be grateful for. I do this to make myself conscious of my good fortune so I am able to face the day with a positive attitude and continue to show my gratitude for the people I love. I try to treat everyone with the respect they deserve, because I believe this is the greatest gesture of appreciation. My old friend was ungrateful for this sense of kindness and thoughtfulness, so she lost me. Now she has finally realized how good of a friend I was to her, and has asked for my forgiveness. Unfortunately for her, it is far too late to mend the damage. I cannot bring myself to pardon her for eight years of being taken for granted. I know now that I am much happier without her in my life, and I have come to deeply appreciate this.