About Friendship: A Letter to My “Friends”

People often tell me stories, and I love it. (I mean, I love stories, right?) Sometimes they tell me “bad stuff” about someone we both know, and I try to listen and stay neutral. Well, I don’t think it’s fair to judge something only based on one-sided stories, but again, I don’t want to invalidate their feelings either. So I try my best to listen, keep it to myself, and shut up. But then I wonder, sometimes A told me bad stuff about B and somehow later I get close to B, I’m concerned about A’s feelings. I mean, I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want them to live in fear…in fear of me telling B that A told me bad stuff about them. I really don’t want to make A worry, that’s why I decide to write “this letter” in hopes to make them feel at ease.

At Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.

So, dear friends,

If you once told me something (or a bad thing) about someone, n somehow you now see me a bit close (or maybe not close, just hanging out casually if not occasionally) with that person, please know that your “secret” is safe with me. I’m not the type who goes around telling ABCD that you told me bad stuff bout them. It’s just… I’m just not the type who will automatically not be friends with someone just because you can’t be friends with them. I have my own views about what is good and bad n how much I can tolerate or compromise. And basically, as long as people don’t mess with me, as long as I’ve got no personal issues with them, I won’t avoid, abandon, or ignore them. Well, of course, I am happy that you trust me with your stories. I thank you, and I really appreciate it. I feel honored. And I understand that when some people told me bad stuff bout ABCD, perhaps they want me to side with them, or maybe they expect me to not be friends with ABCD, but, well, don’t you think it’s kinda unfair? Because, let’s say the situation is reversed, i.e. someone told me bad stuff bout you, you don’t want to find me suddenly avoiding you, right? You’ll find it strange if I do that n you’ll keep wondering if you somehow did me wrong when you actually didn’t, right? So basically, just because you’re not in a good relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean I won’t have a good relationship with them, n similarly, just because you have a good relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean I’ll be good with them too. It’s not that I’m betraying you, no, but perhaps I love to stay neutral? I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I don’t have many friends, i.e. because I don’t have that kind of “loyalty”? I don’t like having “gang-like” friendship either, you know, the type who hang out only with certain people and others would be outsiders? I don’t really like that. For me, it’s either I’m friends with nobody or I’m friends with everybody. Or maybe that’s why people trust me with their stories?

Because they know that I don’t have that close of friends anyway, there’s no way I’ll let others know. And yeah, they’re partly right. Or perhaps because I don’t like to be dragged into others’ problems? The same way I try to not drag anyone into my problems? Like, even if I told you bout my problems, I scarcely mention names, right? N perhaps you can never guess who I’m talking bout unless that person is telling you the same stories and somehow it kinda clicks, n you’re like, “Ah, I guess you’re talking bout this person.” But you know my “friendship” is kinda so broad and diverse, I have so many interests, n I have different people to talk bout each with, so I doubt that you’ll specifically figure it out somehow. But I’m not saying I have never done it, though. Perhaps I slipped? But if I ever did mention a name, please forget it, n I hope it doesn’t affect your view about them. If anything, it should affect your view about me, because if I can tell you bad stuff bout ABCD behind their back, there’s also a chance I’ll tell ABCD bad stuff bout you behind your back, no? If I ever did this, however, please text/email me so I can clarify or apologize.

The reason I rarely mention names when I discussed a matter or tell someone a story or a problem I might have? Well, people make mistakes, I do make mistakes. And maybe when I’m telling the stories, I’m caught up with my emotions. Maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’m feeling hurt. Etc. And people change too. For better or worse. And more importantly, it can be anyone. Also, I hold onto this Islamic view taught to me, “وَمَنْ سَتَرَ مُسْلِمًا, سَتَرَهُ اَللَّهُ فِي اَلدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ” Basically it means, more or less, “If you conceal someone’s disgrace (in order to not embarrass them), then God will conceal yours too (i.e. protect you from such embarrassment).” I don’t mention names because I don’t want to focus on who/m, but I guess we can still talk about the matter so we can learn a lesson?

I’m not trying to act holy, though. I’m human too. I have my flaws too. Though I don’t really remember (sorry for forgetting), there must be a time I actually did or maybe still do what I now detest. Which reminds me…

Me in Norway.

There was this one time X told me that Y was jealous of me because of something. To be frank, I didn’t hate the fact that they were talking about me behind my back. I didn’t hate them. I just found it interesting. I didn’t expect that. For someone to be jealous of me. In fact, perhaps I didn’t know that it was actually Y that X was talking about it. But X used this abbreviation that interested me. And being a language freak I was, I wrote something about it saying I didn’t know that such an abbreviation could exist. Then somehow Y sensed that X told me what they told X n felt cheated ’cause apparently, X got that abbreviation from Y. And X was mad and felt betrayed because I talked bout it n Y confronted them for it. If only they knew that actually, at that time, I was really interested only on the abbreviation of the word. Indeed, the thing I talked about was not only about X or Y per se. I got told bout similar things by someone else bout somebody else. But, well, they believed it was about them…so I guess, when you did sth n somehow someone talks bout it, even though they’re not talking bout you per se (’cause chance is, they don’t even know you did it anyway), you’ll feel like they’re actually talking bout you, no? But, ugh, if you’re X or Y, please know that it’s all in the past, though of course I still remember because, nothing is the same, right? Even though not much actually has changed. Like, I still let you see and exist in my life, right? And when you need or ask for some help, I don’t turn you away, right? I’m not sorry for what I did. I’m truly sorry that it hurt you, though.

PS: About the relationship, however, no matter how good in a relationship you are with someone close to me or people I love, if I’ve got personal issues with you, you can never expect me to immediately be friends with you. Just like my friend’s nemesis doesn’t automatically become my adversary, my friend’s friend doesn’t automatically become my buddy.

PPS: However, if it’s for a bigger issue such as bullying and sexual assault/harassment/abuse that everyone knows for a fact, of course this writing does not apply to that. I mean, who wants to be friends with a bully, sexual predator, or abuser, etc. right? The “bad things people tell me” in this writing are something like “You know what, she is actually not smart, she only uses her beauty” or “they actually love talking bout people behind their back” or “She loves showing off”, etc. Have you ever been told things like that by someone bout someone else? o.O

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