DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in my early 20s, I’m short, and could stand to lose 20 pounds. I have been working as a burger flipper. I have been on five dates since I was 18. I am failing out of community collage, the only place I can afford to go.
Now, enter Grace, my friend since childhood: a devoted, sweet, well-meaning, skilled person who is thin, blond and blue-eyed, and who has had too many dates to count. Coming from a wealthy family, not working, earning top grades at an Ivy League college while living on a big family estate, she has everything I want.
We became friends when my mother was babysitting for her parents’ date night, and she brought me along. Grace is so kind, she befriended me fast.
Her mom and dad are together, but mine are divorced and my mother has depression. Grace has had lots of job offers and will take one, but she does not need to work for her entire life. Her dad started her on stocks when she was young, and she is set for life.
She never yells or anything; she is witty, happy, smart and never a downer. But Grace makes me sad, bordering on angry, whenever I see her. I dress in Goodwill tees; she dresses in a silk blouse in exactly her style. And she is nice to everyone.
See the difference? I wonder: Why can’t I have that, be like that, look like that? I want to keep my friendship with her together, since she is so kind and smart, but every time I see her, it gets worse.
GENTLE READER: Here is a universal truth:
There will always be someone prettier, smarter, richer, funnier, kinder and more tech-savvy than you (Miss Manners added the last one since that is where her own envy lies at the moment).
That your friend’s and your situations are so disparate and extreme is hard, but it is not insurmountable. Your friend has done nothing blameworthy -- on the contrary, she has been devoted to you -- and if you let your anger at the unfairness and divergence in the world conquer you, you will lose that relationship, too.
At the risk of turning this into a teenaged makeover montage, Miss Manners suggests that you ask for your friend’s help. Focus on something attainable. Force yourself to be nice, even when you do not feel like it. Ask her advice when shopping at Goodwill to find things that become you.
Find out what fears or insecurities lie behind her seemingly perfect life (everybody has something). You have a real chance here to keep from becoming bitter -- no matter how justified your reasons may be -- and a true friend to help you do it. Miss Manners suggests that you count that amongst your blessings.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)