How to Spot a Fake Friend

You probably want to give your friends the benefit of the doubt, and in most situations that’s the best thing to do. However, it’s all too easy to get caught up in someone who doesn’t value you the same way you value them. That doesn’t mean that you should go on a witchhunt looking for people to root out of your life, but if you happen to notice some odd behavior, maybe it’s time to reevaluate who you spend your time with. Here are some ways to figure out if you’ve been putting too much faith in fair weather friends.

  1. They don’t want to see you when they’re sober.

This is a big issue in college. You think it’s just the nature of friendships in your twenties, but if somebody only wants to go drinking with you, they probably aren’t interested in a serious emotional connection with you. In my experience, people like this are more interested in having people around them to make them look more popular or to be their wingperson. If you’re okay with that dynamic, then that’s great, but if you’re looking for a true friend, they’re not the one.

2. They’re more interested in photos of hanging out with you than actually being with you.

If they’re putting most of their effort into their social media and “plandids” then they aren’t valuing your presence or your friendship. Just like with my previous point, these people just want to look cool. When faced with a situation like this, you’ve got to remember: you are not a prop. You are a person that deserves genuine interaction and affection. You are not a disposable friend to boost someone’s image or just a pretty face to hang around in the background of their instagram pictures.

 

3. They’re always “busy”

This point is a little tricky because it’s hard to draw the line between a person being genuinely swamped or them just avoiding you. If someone is constantly engaging in social activities with mutual friends, they aren’t too busy. They’re just too busy for you. It’s 2017. Inviting you to join them is as easy as sending a three word text message. Nobody is so immensely overwhelmed every second of their life that they can’t type out “u wanna come?” or even say “sorry, I’m busy right now.”

 

4. They’re constantly gaining new friends and discarding old ones.

A person isn’t looking for sincere companionship if they’re trading friends like an eleven year old with their first deck of Pokemon cards. This is a sign that they’re just a social climber, always looking to upgrade their clique. If you notice they stop hanging out with you once richer or more popular people enter their life, chances are they weren’t interested in you personally. They just wanted to take advantage of your connections or social status.

5. They treat hanging out with you like a backup plan.

I notice this a lot with people who wait a week to text you back after you ask about their availability. Most people carry some sort of planner or scheduling device with them nowadays so chances are they already know their availability the moment you ask. Unless they have a hectic or inconsistent work schedule, or they’ve recently experienced a large change in their life (such as a big move or a family emergency), they probably aren’t replying about their availability because they’re trying to make plans with someone else and don’t want to coordinate with you unless it falls through.

If someone only wants to hang out with you when their “cooler” friends are busy, they aren’t best friend material and they aren’t valuing you properly.

 

It’s important to note at this point that if you’ve been investing emotionally in a fake friend, it is not your fault. Their inability to reciprocate your dedication or affection is a reflection of their poor priorities. It is not because you aren’t good enough. Fake people will be fake because they have their own personal issues regardless of how wonderful you’ve been to them or what you’ve put into the friendship.

When you notice someone you love or care about doesn’t appreciate you the same way, there’s no point in wasting your energy on them. You just get your heart broken. Try to put the same amount of effort into the relationship as your fair weather friend had. If that means politely cutting your ties with them, then that’s probably for the best.

Whatever you chose to do (because how you handle the situation is 100% your choice), remember that you deserve someone who cares about you and appreciates you. It might feel lonely when you first start to move on from a fake friend, but investing in safe people who are willing to reciprocate your level of emotional involvement is always a better idea than being ignored by someone you used to treasure. If all else fails, try to find comfort in the hallowed words of Drake, “F!ck a fake friend, where your real friends at?”

They Might Love You, But That Doesn’t Matter

As horrendous as the title may seem, when it comes to toxic people, it’s the truth. I’ve found that when dealing with abusive folks, one of the ways they reel you back in is by reminding you how much they love you. Whenever I heard those words or felt a smidgen of their kindness it always made me want to forget about the ways they hurt me. They’d put a band-aid on me and I’d say thank you as if they weren’t the reason I was hurt in the first place.

This question used to drive me insane. Sometimes it still does. I’d stay up til four in the morning asking myself if they really did love me. I’d think of the memories that dripped like honey between the folds of my brain. Sometimes the good times, however fleeting, hurt more than the actual abuse because they made me think this person could be changed. It gave me a false sense of hope. Can someone really love you if they hurt you so terribly? Did they love me when they took me to the beach for the first time? Did they love me when they ran their fingers through my hair, eyes softer than silk, smile lighter than meringue? Was everything a means of controlling me? I’d pound my skull, hoping I could shake an answer loose, waiting for it to fall out my ears, collect in a little puddle by my feet and somehow elucidate the whole fiasco.

Of course, that didn’t help. Eventually I had to face the facts. Did they love me? Maybe. Probably. Ideally. Did that matter? No.

I’ll say that again for the folks in the back. No. It doesn’t change a damn thing.

Love can fix a lot of things, but it is not a justification for abuse. It should never convince you to overlook the effects of a toxic relationship. When someone is making your life a continual series of panic attacks with intermittent depressive episodes and ever present self destructive tendencies, you should not be asking yourself “do they love me?”. You should be asking “how do I get away from this person as safely and swiftly as possible?”.

When you’re hyperventilating, hands shaking, stomach aching, vomit lodged in your throat, it doesn’t matter if that person loves you. You’ve got to weigh the options and ultimately, no one is worth that. Not your parents, lover, friends, or anybody. Staying with them is not being a martyr for love. It’s being a victim of an abusive anthropomorphic sack of sewage. Whether you two love another, they are still sewage, and anyone that hurts you like that needs to be flushed out of your life immediately.

Once I stopped caring whether they loved me or not, I was able to focus on the real issue. They were abusive. They made life unbearable at times. They warped my perception of everything until the world felt twisted, broken, and downright filthy. I didn’t need that. More importantly, I didn’t need them. What I needed was to leave, and, upon doing so, my life has changed so beautifully. It wasn’t easy cutting them out of my life, but by God it was worth it.

I hope everyone who finds themselves in a similar situation will have the strength and courage to do so as well.

How Mexican is Mexican Enough?

I’ve been asking myself this since I was old enough to understand that being mixed race is confusing to a good deal of people. For some people the topic is so incomprehensible that the first thing they do upon hearing of my heritage is call me a liar. This happens more often than one would think. People can be very brazen.

I get a range of reactions when I say I’m Hispanic. The most common is a befuddled shaking of the head in denial. However, some people think it necessary to interrogate me. They pull out their checklist of what makes a Mexican American and go through the material until they feel they’ve collected enough evidence to entirely invalidate my racial identity. The questioning goes something like this:

  1. But why are you white?

It’s almost surprising how many times I hear this line unironically repeated by someone other than Karen Smith. Do some people really think light skinned Mexicans don’t exist? There isn’t just one skin tone for the entire nation. I can tell when someone asks this they have a specific shade in mind, a Mexican Brown from their Crayola 45 pack. Sorry to disappoint, but there are a number of different racial, ethnic, and cultural identities within Mexico. There are Mexicans of all different shades and backgrounds. They are all still Mexican regardless.

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, I’m only half Mexican. I have family members who are quite dark. I have family members who are pale as can be. There are a number of genes and environmental factors that determine skin color, so it’s not as simple as mixing paints, one brown, one white. I’ve met people who share my ethnic and racial identity that were dark, light, and all sorts of shades in between. Not every half Mexican person’s genes code the for the same shade. Variation is wonderful and doesn’t make anyone more or less Hispanic.

2. Do you speak Spanish?

Shout out to cultural assimilation for pressuring my grandparents to only teach their children English in hopes of avoiding the persecution that comes with speaking Spanish in public or having an accent. With that said, no. I don’t speak Spanish. It was my grandparent’s first language, but thanks to the folks who believe firmly in people only speaking “American” my mother and I missed out on being raised bilingual.

However, I’m not the only Mexican American that experienced societal pressure to only speak English. There are a number of people who don’t speak Spanish and are still just as Mexican. Language does not determine race or ethnicity.

3. Well, you don’t act like a Mexican. Are you sure you’re Latina?

This is by far the worst question I get for a number of reasons. First of all, what does a Mexican act like? What racial stereotypes are you picturing as you ask this? It’s not like there’s a Latinx code of conduct handbook hidden away somewhere that determines our interests, personality, and how we handle our interpersonal interactions. Despite possibly sharing a similar cultural, ethnic, and/or racial background, we are all still individuals and behave as such.

Secondly, do they think I’m gonna stop for a moment, rub my chin pensively, and through deep thought and reason come to the conclusion that I’m not really Hispanic? They act like I just woke up one morning and decided to be Mexican American. Of course, I’m certain of my ethnicity. I know my heritage, family, and culture. I’m pretty damn sure I’m Latina.

4. Just how Mexican are you really?

Ah yes, let me pull out my convenient little identity pie chart. I’ll get back to you once I’ve finished running the numbers and calculating the percentages. However, the worst part of this question is that it implies that being mixed makes me a watered down version of my ethnicites. Whether I’m ten percent or one hundred percent Hispanic, I am still Hispanic. Being part white doesn’t exclude me, or anyone else, from the Latinx community.

These interrogations always leave me with the same feelings of exclusion and invalidation. It seems like mixed race individuals are always being made to explain themselves, like we’re some incomprehensible enigma to the rest of the world. How many times will I have to defend my identity? How Mexican is Mexican enough for people to believe I am what I say I am?

I love/hate/miss you, New York

The first time I saw New York City, I cried tears of joy. I was nineteen years old and I had my whole life packed into one battered suitcase and a backpack that was ripping at the seams. I started bawling the moment I saw the Manhattan skyline, ripping savagely from the Jersey City horizon. I was so caught up in the intangible everything of my dreams that I couldn’t help myself. I could’ve drowned in all the hope I had inside me that day.

That skyline represented everything to me. It meant escaping Texas and everyone that had tried to hold me back. It meant having the opportunity to be something other than a school teacher, or a housewife, or just another empty soul stuck complaining about a town they hate, but will never leave. (Of course there’s nothing wrong with being a housewife or a school teacher, but those shouldn’t be a woman’s only options.) For me, the idea of spending my entire life in a small town was about as appealing as asphyxiating on a Texas flag.

I’d had eighteen years of pretending to care about trucks with lift kits, country music, and Copenhagen light. I’d had enough. When my senior year of high school rolled around, I made up my mind about Texas. I was going to apply exclusively to out of state schools and take my chances with big city living.

You can imagine my excitement when two years later my efforts had come to fruition and I found myself in a friend’s car, listening to Alicia Keys’s Empire State of Mind, and seeing skyscrapers for the first time in my life. It was pure unadulterated ecstasy. If the car had flown off the edge of the bridge at that second I probably would’ve died happy, marveling at the One World Trade Center up until the end.

The week that followed was pure bliss. Sunshine seeped out of my every pore. I did all the typical NYU things and embraced the buzz of Greenwich Village with open arms and eyes. I sat in Washington Square Park and read collections of beat poetry. I wore long bohemian skirts that dragged on the floor and drank $8 Fair trade cold brewed coffees. I listened to self-proclaimed “indie” artists and ate vegan organic salads. It was the start of a beautiful, albeit inauthentic, life of golden possibility and uninhibited wonder. I saw the world in a way that only the blindly optimistic could and I loved it. Every second of it.

However, that pristine idea of New York quickly faded. The overpriced coffee lost its feeling of hipster sophistication and instead just seemed economically infeasible. I began to notice the  little details about the city that started to drive me insane, like the rancid garbage fragrance that coated the streets and the constant battle for space against the manspreaders on the subway. Eventually summer faded and I had to buy a real winter coat for the first time in my life. I learned the hard way that Seasonal Affective Disorder is, in fact, a real condition. I found myself dwelling on the minutia that by then had become everything. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I had come to hate New York and all the hearts it broke.

Until a few weeks ago, I would cry almost everyday about how much I despised New York City and how much I missed my hometown. I felt trapped in my 200 square foot apartment and all the Greenwich Village hipsters started to make me sick. I’d look at them in their stupid Hawaiian shirts and thick rimmed glasses and ask “does this guy even read that Marx book he totes around? Or is it just another prop to make him seem well read and ironically nonconformist?”

I hated everything about the city. The constant sirens, the 50 degree chill of early June, the absurd wall Street wealth contrasted with the people wandering lost and homeless through the streets. The gentrification pissed me off, the overpriced delis annoyed me, and the “if you’re not doing me a service then I don’t want you” attitude of the residents made me feel so helplessly alone. I wanted to throw myself out the tallest window of one the skyscrapers I was so obsessed with a year earlier.

Once again, I was begging for an escape. It felt like I was trying to break up with the city. Yet, even when my fury and loathing reached a peak, I still felt tied to New York. I knew I had to stay and finish my senior year at NYU, otherwise I would have wasted 6 digit figures on an incomplete degree. Considering all the sacrifices that my family had made for me to chase my dreams here, quitting simply wasn’t option.

With this in mind, I realized I needed a change in mindset, rather than a change in scenery. This epiphany, however mediocre, came to me as I was on a bus home from my office in Staten Island. I was crossing the Verrazano Bridge, looking out at the Manhattan skyline once again, seeing it from an entirely different angle. Yet, even with all the malice I’d come to harbor for the city, I felt that same sense of wonder that filled my head when I first saw those skyscrapers nearly three years ago. It was beautiful. Not perfect, but at the very least worth looking at and appreciating. In that moment I felt an overwhelming desire to return that ridiculously optimistic outlook on the city. I wanted to be happy with my life and where I lived again.

I saw my relationship with the city splayed out across the rooftops. I loved New York from the first moment I saw it. I hated New York from the moment I realized that living in Manhattan wasn’t going to be like an episode of Gossip Girl. I missed my New York as I watched it pass from the Verrazano bridge. Although it would be impossible and unwise to return to my previous ignorant positivity, I missed the image of the city I had cultivated in my mind and fed with Frank Sinatra songs and American Dream ideals. With all that in mind, I decided to work on learning to love reality, instead of an imaginary version of the city.

There is so much to be grateful for in this city. From the gleam of Manhattan lights reflected on the Hudson, to the endless questionable dollar slices one could consume as they stumble through the Lower East Side, to the myriad museums, restaurants, and hidden gems begging to be explored. Sure, New York will still have its flaws, but I’m gonna try to love it anyway.

Welcome!

With an immense amount of free time and the insatiable need to beef up my resume, I found myself wrestling with the idea to write a blog. (What else do over opinionated and under stimulated millennials do?) Upon the realization that my career as an instagram model and part time unpaid intern wasn’t going to work out, I decided to just go for it and see what happens. Worse case scenario, I take up another mediocre domain name until it expires and another Anja, who also happens to write, can rightfully claim her wordpress throne.

You can expect a lot of ramblings about my life experiences and a few attempts at giving advice or sharing what little I’ve managed to learn in life. If you’re lucky (using that term very loosely) you might even come across a few satirical or critical examinations of the world, because God knows we don’t have enough bitter 20-somethings complaining on the internet already.

However, in all sincerity, I hope you find joy or relief in whatever I write. I hope my writing can make you laugh or relate. Lastly, I hope that if you’re an employer reading this, you’ll hire me.

Thanks for reading,

Anja