We’ve all been there. We’ve all contemplated what it would be like to tear down somebody that we hate, or worse to tear down somebody we don’t hate. We live in a competitive, fast-paced society, where in order to stand out and excel, you have to get ahead of everyone else. It’s mercantilism. It’s Capitalism. People oppose and antagonize each other in order to achieve personal success. The competition is aggressive and cutthroat. So, we’ve all been there.
I’ll admit it: I get jealous when a friend gets a higher grade on a test than me. I’ll think about how I deserved the A more. I’ll think about how I studied so much harder, how I was much more prepared. And I’ll get honestly jealous. But it’s a transient emotion. And it passes as quickly as it arrives.
But for some people, it doesn’t pass.
Three weeks ago, I was talking to someone I once considered my friend, Ethan, about teacher recommendations for college apps. I asked him if he knew when the appropriate time to approach a teacher would be. He told me the second to last week of school. So, I felt that I had time.
The day after the AP English Language exam, I was planning on asking my Lang teacher, who is notorious at our school for stringently limiting the number of reccs she writes per year, for a recc. I said this out loud to Ethan. He told me – no, he warned me – not to ask.
“Teachers get very stressed during the AP week. If you ask her now, you’re only going to stress her out more. It’s really just not in your favor to ask today.”
So, I changed my mind.
Last week, I asked my math teacher for a recommendation and the conversation went extremely well, inspiring me to ask my Lang teacher as well, since you need two different teachers to write reccs for you. Once again, I told Ethan. And once again, Ethan told me not to do it.
“Usually, kids ask the second to last week of school. It’ll be weird if you don’t follow that pattern. However, math teachers are the only exception.” (The second to last week of school would be next week.)
I then asked Ethan how many recommendations he had secured and he told me that he hadn’t even really thought about it that much yet because “there are just so many more important things on [his] plate.”
Today, A asked our Lang teacher for a recc and we were all surprised to find out that she was the ninth person to ask. We all thought she’d be the first, since we were collectively still under the impression that people didn’t really start asking for reccs until next week, because I wanted to make sure all of my friends knew that that would be the most appropriate time.
We were more surprised to find out that Ethan was the first to have asked.
Ethan asked last week, around the same time he told me not to ask and that he hadn’t even thought about reccs yet because it was still “too early.”
The problem with Ethan’s plan though is that I’m just not that stupid. Eventually, I was going to find out that he’s deceiving me, whether or not A discovered the truth today. Word was going to get out one way or another. And now that I do know of his sabotage, I will never be able to see Ethan as a friend ever again. I’m not going to be there for him anymore.
The reason why sabotage never works out is that people, in general, just aren’t that stupid. Even if it takes a while, ultimately, people are going to find out when they’re getting sabotaged and then what they do with that information could lead to a disarray of repercussions for the sabotager. Maybe the sabotager gets a short term win over the sabotagee, but that’s as far as it can go. And all that effort of lying and manipulating is just not worth it for an evanescent victory.
Even if the sabotage is a complete success, and the sabotagee ends up losing everything, the sabotager will always face the greater losses. I mean, seriously, who would side with the sabotager and not the sabotagee? Who would still trust the sabotager? Who would still be their friend? So, Ethan really isn’t getting ahead at all.
Right now, I’m faced with the decision of how to continue my relationship with Ethan. I’ve been urged to punch him. I’ve been urged to sabotage him back. But, most of all, I’ve been urged to accost him and force him to apologize, which is the only choice I actually considered seriously.
However, I’ve decided to just let it go and move on, because I’m not interested in fixing our “friendship.” I don’t see what I could possibly gain out of confronting Ethan. I don’t want to talk it out with him and give him the opportunity to try to make me trust him again. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Ethan has done something like this to me and I’m just not okay with wearing my heart on my sleeve for him anymore. I’m going to always be suspicious of him now, and I don’t think that would make a good basis for a friendship anyways.