Photograph by Ryan Baker
Hi Tigress Magazine,
Thank you for a beautiful publication full of wonderful information! I love it.
I have a bit of a friend problem. I am 16 and I have a friend who is very ‘angsty’. I don’t know whether to take her seriously, or whether she is vying for attention. She often tells me how she wants to die, or how she feels she was born defective, but the next minute, she is laughing and joking with everyone. I don’t want to brush her off in case she is serious but she has been saying this stuff for a year now and it seems to be fitting this ‘image’ she is going for… I would love some advice. What should I do? I feel like maybe she says all the stuff to me because I don’t brush her off. I listen in case it is real.. but I feel taken advantage of.
Sophie here. Thank you so much from myself and Freya for your kind words! We are so happy to hear you enjoy Tigress.
This is super tricky, and I’ve been in similar situations myself. First off, I really respect your patience and genuine concern for your friend. Many girls wouldn’t think twice, or act as maturely as you seem to be. Kudos for that.
I think you need to have a serious talk with her, one on one. Spend some time outside of school/away from other friends and try to have an open conversation. Let her know that you’re concerned and confused; that she might not realize it, but it worries you when she makes serious comments but then acts like nothing was said. You can ask her if she feels she is genuinely struggling–with anxiety, depression, or something else–and if she is, encourage her to get help. She needs to speak with her parents, a school guidance counselor, or a therapist. Being a friend’s therapist is not your job; not only will it wear you down, but it will eventually take a serious toll on your friendship.
It seems to me that your friend is either being unnecessarily “angsty” and feels she can get away with it around you, or that something really is going on, and she is looking for help, but doesn’t know how to ask for it. My guess is that if you confront her with patience, openness, and kindness, she will tell you if something serious really is going on. If she was trying to keep her pain a secret, she would not be acting this way; people go to great lengths to hide their struggles when they want to.
On the other hand, if she expresses that she’s just being “dramatic” and it’s not serious, tell her that you want her to be more thoughtful with the things she says around you. She needs to know that when she makes offhand, “joking” comments about wanting to die, it makes you very upset, unnecessarily. Express that you always want to be there for her as friend when she is having a hard time, but let her know that her behavior is taking a serious toll on you and is not benefiting anyone the way it’s currently going. If she doesn’t stop despite your request, you may need to consider learning how to brush things off when she seeks attention–it can be really hard to do this as a compassionate individual, but if I’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that an invaluable life skill is taking care of yourself enough that you are equip to care for others. When you constantly put yourself on the backburner, you aren’t helping yourself or other people. Another invaluable lesson to keep in mind: we can’t fix anyone–we can only do our best to love them.