Should I Be The Second Friend?

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Over the past couple years, I’ve struggled a bit with my identity as a friend, a boyfriend, and a professional.

After reading Tac Anderson’s post on being “the second friend you call,” I couldn’t help but identify with much of what he was saying. Much like Tac, I am not an introvert. I get along quite well in social situations. A lot of people like me (I think), and I can get along with the group when needed (although sometimes it pains me).

But this often leads to a wrong initial impression of who I actually am. Truthfully, I am a persistently critical, doubtful, and honest person. Regardless of the situation, I will tell you what I think. If you ask me a question, expect that I will drill down to the core and examine every rock on the way there. Even if I am tactful with my approach, the result is usually the same: I piss off a number of people. And those who initially liked me tend to disappear into the ether as they really get to know me.

I am the second friend.

But unlike Tac, I am not so sure I prefer being the second friend. Being critical and honest, as Tac pointed out in his post, doesn’t exactly build bridges. Instead, my approach to life has often led me down the paths of resentment, loneliness, and in extreme cases, depression.

I think there are a number of reasonable reasons for the conflicting levels of confidence in who we are. Tac has 20+ years of life experience on me, and I imagine throughout all of those years he has grown an appreciation for who he is and what his priorities are. Tac is also an established professional, working for one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Meanwhile, I am a twenty-three-year-old “kid.” I am just beginning to grapple what it means to be an adult. And while I will (lightly) acknowledge that I have a good amount of professional experience, I can’t help but feel I am just one person away from being called out as a fraud. After all, who am I to be so critical when I’ve lived such a short life?

At the same time, I know that my honesty and my tendency to be critical has value. I did not get to where I am today as a writer, an editor, a friend, a lover, or a colleague by making everyone happy. Hell, I didn’t get to where I am today by making myself happy (although you can rest assured being unhappy is not my goal). I got here by proclaiming where I stood loudly and proudly, by following through on my commitments to others, and by being as straight-forward as possible.

So while I think I am ok with being the honest person, and Tac’s post has given me a ledge to grapple onto, I can’t deny the exhaustion and occasional social isolation that results from being the type of person I am. But I do hope over the next twenty years I am able to obtain the same level of confidence in being the second friend as he has.

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