A Letter To My Best Friend
Updated: Dec 5, 2018
You have a thousand Facebook friends, a successful career and a face that could sink a thousand ships. But you don’t have a boyfriend, so sometimes you feel like none of these things mean anything at all.
When I look at you, I see a collection of all the mad, messy memories we’ve made together. I see a Saturday night spent running around Sainsbury’s when we were 15, laughing so much we couldn’t breathe. I see us going to Mr Lad’s newsagent after school and buying Strawbs and Prawn Cocktail crisps and bars of white Milky Bar chocolate (we always had to balance salty and sweet) which we would mix together in our mouths as we walked home. I see us going to a Mexican restaurant for tacos on the last day of our GCSEs, telling everyone else we went to a club. I see us on our knees with laughter on Bath Road, giggling so much we couldn't speak or breathe. I see us making a low budget horror film in Year 8 with your Mum’s video camera. I see us making videos on PhotoBooth where we’d mouth our favourite scenes of Scrubs or Gossip Girl. I see us playing Badminton (badly) in your back garden after school, making deals with God to try and get a rally of 100.
Last week, you went on a date with a man you met on Tinder. He did not see any of these things when he looked at you, because he does not know you at all. To him, you are one of a long string of names and faces on an iPhone app, of which he might see hundreds in a single week. For you, the date seemed to go well and you hoped you would see him again.
But this man saw you, this man I will never meet, and decided he never wanted to see you again. You were rejected. Someone looked at you, my beautiful friend, and decided that they did not want you.
Objectively, you and I both know that there are many, many people that do want you, and there always will be, including a great many who you don’t want in return.
The trouble is, when we are girls, we are led to believe that being noticed and liked by men is more important than anything else. This belief is so ingrained it would be impossible to ever unpack it. We are led to believe that men will love us and desire us and our role will be to resist them. If it does not work out this way, it means we are wrong or broken in some deep way and must change.
Rejection feels like a stamp of disapproval on our head, a permanent confirmation that we are gross and unworthy. But rejection is a human emotion and we all feel it. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or beautiful or successful or perfect we seem from the outside. Hell, Adele and Beyonce even wrote albums about it. Rejection is normal and pedestrian and universal, even though it feels world-ending and unique.
When a person rejects you it gives them immense power. Because, as humans, we are more inclined to believe bad than good feedback about ourselves, it can seem that this man, who has known you all of a couple of hours, has seen some secret, hidden part of your soul. It can seem like this man knows the truth of you, and everyone else is lying. But he does not know you more than any of the other people, just because he did not want you.
You are not one thing, good or bad. You are a collection of so many different contradictory elements. Don’t let this rejection decide what you are. There is a whole myriad of people who are excited and mystified and confused and enchanted by you. This is one stranger who you know nothing about, whose flaws you haven’t yet seen. Judge people not by what they say but by what they do and how they make you feel. No one deserving of your love would ever make you feel this kind of pain. When you meet the right person, you will not question how they feel about you. They will make the answer very obvious.
You put yourself out there as the best version of yourself, for a total stranger, on the off chance it might have lead to sexual attraction or love. In a world where going on a date with a man is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do, you took a big risk. You put your safety, your mind and your feelings on the line. That is an act of extreme bravery, of which you should be proud.
I love you and I always will, even if we stop texting or finding the same things funny or one of us moves away. I love you and I always will, even though it is a less exciting, dramatic, high-stakes kind of love than the love this man could have offered you. I know when you say these things to me (as you do often) it is hard to listen, because everything around us feels stupid and difficult and unfair. But I think you should keep going, over and over again, because failure is okay and risk is worth it. And if things don't work out five or ten or fifteen more times, I’ll be there, to buy strawbs and Prawn Cocktail crisps and laugh about nothing until everything feels hopeful again.
Written by Matilda Curtis
Illustrated by India Boxall