Campus Life alor’s lore

You see right past me — or through me

An open letter to a person who won’t read it

Here’s the thing about Michael1, henceforth just Michael or Mike. He’s nice, nice enough. We get along, and when we don’t, we resolve things — group project division, being too loud in a shared space, and so on — pretty maturely. Enough to be friends…except that’s a loaded word that means more than being friendly. The word would be an acquaintance, usually.

Maybe he thinks it’s just silly semantics to hyper-analyze the arbitrary labels people put on relationships, which is fair. Except that Mike also latches onto the friend label for dear life, as if a friend would 1) define me by a few static traits and 2) expect me to conform to those expectations in perpetuity. For some reason or another, his mental cache of me is stale and it simply won’t bother refreshing.

I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t contribute — from my monolithic pop music tastes to general impulsive goofiness, I created a brand for myself: the broadly unserious person. From random goofy late-night talks to Taylor Swift-themed emails/Piazza posts and more, I cemented this image in Mike’s mind, didn’t I? I figured that he’d realize that his mental images of me are, well, just images: flat 2D shadows projected from my ever-evolving n-dimensional reality. Even if I have a brand, why can’t I be off-brand without it being weird?

Lately, this brand narrowed, with Mike treating me like I’m made of glass. He’ll make small talk, but he either sees right through me, or right past me. And that small talk is exhausting. I’m a great listener, but I can barely get a word back. Ever. 

But that’s what friends do, right?  

Fine, maybe I exaggerated. Mike’ll sometimes start with the classic “Hey, what’s up?” before diving into whatever he actually wants to talk about. I used to hop by Mike’s hangout spots to reciprocate — you know, because friends — but between the awkward “hmms” to sudden shushing upon my approach to the awkward silence, I was clearly external to the clique. Strangely, this is how I ended up learning so much about Mike and why he barely knows me. But I shouldn’t be an outsider, since I know about his ***** and how he *****, both of which are clearly close-friends-only knowledge. Apparently, I’m just your sounding board, the crystal glass that you mess around with to echo what you want to hear.

Then, there was _____. I literally made a mental list of who to tell about _____ and Mike… he just wasn’t on it. I still cringe thinking about how I would’ve told him, if I did. Mike would probably say “oh, um…” and short-circuit. Not just in the moment (which is understandable, since real-time processing is hard,) but also long-term. To him, a goofy-enthusiast-prankster-y person like me can’t ever experience and vent about anything serious. So I left Mike in the dark — despite worries about his reaction when he found out about _____ through other people. When he did, he drifted even more into an acquaintance-like aloofness, as if avoiding my fragile glass self was safer than supporting it. 

Honestly, that was the end. The end of the accidental exclusion, the end of anger, and the culmination of weariness. Mike will stay in his circles. I’ll stay in mine. Maybe I’ll carve mine out more, and make a little moat so Mike can’t cross over next semester. For what it's worth, I didn’t mind getting acquainted, but it wasn’t meant to be.

 Sorry, Mike.

  1. This is a random name and doesn’t necessarily refer to a single individual; he is also fictionalized.