My friend’s hurtful remark make me feel inferior

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 30s. I feel alienated from a close friend from junior high school, which bothers me.

About six months ago, we went out to dinner. She paid a bit more than me and said, “You can pay me back when you’ve made it.”

I’ve changed jobs several times, while my friend has been in the same job since she graduated. She believes I earn less than she does. This makes me feel inferior.

I know she didn’t mean that she expected me to pay her back, but wanted to say, with good intentions, that “you don’t need to pay.” But I thought I’d been friends with her and openly shared my vulnerabilities. I was offended by her words because I felt like she was looking down on me.

I used to see her several times a month, but we haven’t met since this incident. I’ve told her about my feelings, and she said, “Please contact me if you want to meet again.”

It’d be sad if we grew apart, but I don’t want to open up to her and I’m still not ready to see her again. I can’t forget what she said and don’t feel like we’re on an equal footing. Am I being too stubborn?

U, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

From an outside perspective, I feel that you are taking an insignificant matter too seriously. Your friend seems to be a friendly person who shows concern for you.

Despite being aware of that, however, you still don’t want to see her. It’s also clear that the cause of your feelings is you, not her.

You wrote down your feelings and sent in this letter. I recommend asking yourself why you feel this way.

I can’t tell details from your letter, but is your work going well? Or even if there aren’t any problems at work, do you feel unsatisfactory your abilities are not fairly evaluated?

If so, I recommend you change your work style or try to acquire qualifications for your career.

How about your personal life? Why don’t you try something new such as joining a group that you might be interested in? You may meet someone new there.

Try taking some action. If you engage in something else, you’ll start thinking less about what your friend said.

Masahiro Yamada, professor

(from June 29, 2018, issue)Speech

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