Story on Criticism
City: Los Angeles
My fantasies blinded how valuable my friends were.
Senior Year of high school I told my English teacher about how bitchy and selfish my only friend was. I expected her to console me and validate that I was in fact a perfect best friend. Instead, she gave me the harshest criticism and biggest epiphanies I’ve ever faced.
“You expect too much,” she said nonchalantly, while munching on her egg salad sandwich. “You create unrealistic expectations and fantasies no one can live up to, and you’ll always be left with loneliness and heartbreak. You’re pushing people away when really, they are doing more for you than you realize.”
I was completely taken aback with her brutal but relaxed honesty. I felt my cheeks sting with embarrassment, then rage. A part of me felt the world was completely against me and no one understood me. But a part of me knew she was right. I’d built up fantasies based on corny Disney Channel TV shows of inseparable best friends, and desperately wanted them to come to life. When they didn’t, I felt disappointed and betrayed. My fantasies blinded how valuable my friends were and the immense amount of support they gave me.
The next day, my friend came up to me and asked why I’d been distant from her. With slight embarrassment and hope, I confessed the amount of guilt and regret I felt for placing my insecurities and expectations onto her. She forgave me, and it helped our friendship grow even stronger. We’re still best friends three years later!
I realize now that the fantasies were me searching for a carbon copy of what I felt was missing in my life: unconditional love, attention, and validation. I learned that instead of searching for someone to fulfill in my expectations, I can be the friend I’ve always wanted. Now, I constantly work to be a better, more supportive, and loving friend which has helped me create beautiful and valuable friendships.
In the moment, it’s extremely hard to receive harsh criticism, especially when you let your ego and pride get in the way. Instead, try to take it as a ticket to grow into the best version of yourself.