The Permanent Vacationer

Your friend's life is a 24/7 holiday. Don't hate—no one likes a Bitter Betty

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Welcome to The Baffler’s agony corner, YOUR SORRY ASS, where Amber A’Lee Frost dispenses bossy, judgmental advice on how to live your life fairly, kindly, and with good humor. Send us your rants and pleas, please: [email protected]

Dear Your Sorry Ass,

I am friends with someone who is a good person like any other, but she has never worked a day in her life. She just lives off of her parents money and goes to festivals, shops in the middle of the day, eats at all these expensive brunch places, etc. She dropped out of university and has no intention of going back. Her life is a 24/7 vacation. Meanwhile, I work a job that I hate and am still only barely able to break even.

I can’t help but feel resentful toward this friend for living this style of life in the here and now.

I consider myself a leftist and I would ideally like for people not to have to work in order to be able to survive. But I still can’t help but feel resentful toward this friend for living this style of life in the here and now. I don’t want her to suffer, or even for her to be forced to work a job she doesn’t want to, but I still feel like there’s some injustice here. Am I being reactionary or hypocritical for feeling this way toward her? Would it be best for me to cut this relationship off?

Regards,

Probably a Reactionary Guy

 

Dear Probably,

Don’t worry about it. You’re not reactionary; you’re just jealous. Jealousy gets a bad rap, but it’s a largely involuntary impulse that is nothing to feel guilty about. When people don’t appreciate their good fortune it’s only natural that you would harbor a little resentment toward them, especially if you’re struggling and unhappy with your own situation. And if they’re not doing anything productive or interesting with all their privileges, it’s difficult not to indulge in fantasies of what a far superior rich person you would be (and I’m sure you would). Of course, perseverating in your envy—or repressing it—can lead to a distinctly seething outlook, and no one likes a Bitter Betty. You have to accept your all-too-human feelings, and avoid interpreting them as some sort of moral or political shortcoming. But you also probably shouldn’t be friends with someone you really resent, so it’s worth trying to arrive at some sort of resolution about your relationship with this person.

It’s easier to stomach a bougie buddy when they can exhibit basic consideration for your hardships

First of all, does your friend know that you’re broke and unhappy with your job? Do you actually begrudge her a bobo lifetsyle, or are you merely piqued by her lack of sympathy toward your own struggles? It’s much easier to stomach a bougie buddy when they can exhibit basic consideration for your hardships, so if you’re not much of a complainer or just don’t usually do a lot of talking about yourself, why not kvetch a bit and see how she responds? If your problems hit her like water off a duck’s back, she’s just kind of a shitty person and you can find better friends.

The other possibility here is that maybe you just really don’t like this person very much, which is your prerogative. “A good person like any other” sounds like damnation with faint praise. You don’t have to be friends with anyone just because they’re “nice”; you can pass the standards of human decency just by “being nice” right back, and that’s not the same thing as friendship. You seem to dislike the way she lives her life. I will say that dropping out of school isn’t quite the permanent life decision people make it out to be, especially if she’s young. This may just be a phase she’s going through. Very few people can actually handle the rounds of life as a permanent vacation before they want to feel productive. But you mention zero real hobbies or interests—do you find her shallow? Boring? The leisure lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and if you’re not much of a brunch bro maybe you’re just incompatible. Does she make you laugh? Make you feel good about yourself? Do you have a fun time together? That’s what makes a good friendship.

You should start by figuring out why you’re friends with this person. If this is a relationship that really means something to you, and she’s capable of sympathy, you can get through it. If not, why bother?

Amber A'Lee Frost is a writer and musician in Brooklyn. She is a contributor to Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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