Let me just start by apologizing. I’m sorry for being so impatient with you, and misunderstanding your behavior. When we first started being friends, I didn’t know you had anxiety. And, according to you, you didn’t know you had it either. We both just knew that you were “shy” and “reserved.” You didn’t get close to many people, and you weren’t the type to draw attention to yourself. You’d overthink the smallest things and panic about problems that weren’t really there. I’m sorry for the day I called you out on your anxiety. We entered the lunchroom, and you asked me to join the food line with you. “Why can’t you go by yourself?” I asked. “I don’t want to go alone in front of all of these people; they’re all going to be looking at me,” you said. “Oh my goodness, do you have anxiety? No one is going to be looking at you, it’s all in your head. You’ll be fine, relax.”
You went silent. I regretted my words immediately, but I knew that there was nothing I could add that would be enough to take back what I’d just said. Your having anxiety was completely plausible, and I knew that. But it wasn’t my place to call you out on it. A few weeks after that incident, I remember a mutual friend telling me that you visited a doctor who confirmed my assumption about your anxiety. My stomach dropped. I felt guilty for what I’d said to you — I still feel guilty.
But, something good came out of all of this. We formed a best friendship, and I learned to understand you more than anyone ever has. Without even thinking twice, I can tell when you’re genuinely happy or genuinely sad. I know when you’re faking it, and I know when you don’t mean what you say. I can see right through your masks.
It used to frustrate me when you wouldn’t share your feelings. I wanted so badly to be able to help you, to be there for you. But every time you were going through something rough, you’d disappear. You wouldn’t ask for my help nor did you even make it seem as if you needed help. I wouldn’t hear from you for days at a time. At first, I thought you just didn’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with me. But then I slowly began to understand that it wasn’t anything I’d done — this was just your way of dealing with the crap that life throws at you. And that’s okay. I understand that I don’t need to know all of the little details in order to be close to you. All I need to know is when things are going well for you and when they’re not, and I can interpret the signs of the latter without you explicitly sharing anything.
And with that, I have an unspoken understanding of you. You say something that isn’t actually how you’re feeling, and I interpret it as how you’re really feeling. I observe your actions and can tell what they mean. But I don’t call you out on these things — I don’t need to. You don’t need me to. You need me to understand you and accept you, and even though you sometimes need reassurance about these things, I can assure you that I do.
The other day, I asked you to give me an estimate of how much I know about you. You said 32 percent. I was surprised — I felt like I knew much more than a measly 32 percent of you. But then you told me that it’s not my fault that I only know about a third of you. You don’t allow people to know that much about you, but that’s not what you’re looking for in a best friend anyway. You told me that what you want is someone that gets you. You said I’m the only one who genuinely understands and accepts you, and you thanked me for adjusting to your behavior for, and I quote, “this long.” You explained to me that knowing someone and understanding someone are two different things. You told me that I’m the only person you haven’t had to change your personality for. “So I'm not sure if you feel guilty or more distanced because I said you know about 32 percent about me, but just know that that's not what I want when I say I need a best friend in my life.” That last sentence was all I needed to hear.
I don’t need to know the stupid little things. I understand you, and that is enough. I am so grateful that I don’t need to talk to you every single day for you to know that I love you and care about you. We both understand that we’re busy and we have things going on in our lives. We know that when we need each other, we’re there for one another. If something is ever bothering me, I can count on a reply within a minute or less from you, even if you’re busy at work or school. And I’m sure that you know it works the same way vice versa.
Sangita (this is the first time I’m saying your name in this letter), thank you. Thank you for being such a unique, loving, funny, understanding, reliable, and overall beautiful human being. Thank you for calling me out when I’m wrong, and for not sugar-coating things. Thank you for being honest with me instead of telling me what I want to hear. Thank you for being critical and for reminding me of my worth. Thank you for genuinely believing in me. I love you and appreciate you, and I know our friendship will continue to grow forever. Syracuse has put some distance between us, but when we do get to hang out, it’s as if no time has passed at all. And for that, I will always be thankful.