I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve said that I’m not like other girls, implying that there was something defective or inferior about being a girl. I’m sorry for how hard I’ve tried to be “different,” not because being different felt authentic but because I was afraid that I would never measure up to you.
I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve made fun of traditionally feminine things, like make-up and pretty clothing. I’m sorry that I derided these things as stupid and frivolous – the fact that I did that says more about my own insecurities than it does about anything else.
I’m sorry that I called you a slut. What I meant was that I was jealous that boys wanted to sleep with you. What I meant was that I was jealous of how comfortable you seemed to be in your body, how easily you wore those short skirts and low-cut tops. I could never imagine what it must feel like to be as happy or as beautiful as you, and it seemed like your pleasure was somehow my loss.
I’m sorry for how often I’ve talked about you behind your back. I’m sorry for how meanly glad it made me to strip you down and bare all your petty little faults over coffee with a mutual friend.
I’m sorry for all the times that I’ve told myself that talking about you behind your back was fine because I was doing it from a place of love and concern.
I’m sorry for all of the ways I sneakily took out my anger on you, saying sly little things to cut you down or else aiming a thousand cruel barbs straight at your heart. I was too afraid to confront you over what you’d done, so instead I tried to hurt you as badly as you’d hurt me.
I’m sorry for all of times that I failed to back you up when you were right just because I wanted the approval of the men sitting at the table. I’m sorry for all of the anti-woman garbage that I’ve laughed at and pretended to agree with just because I wanted to be a chill girl. I’m sorry that I was afraid to stand up for what I believe in.
I’m sorry for all of the ways that I’ve undervalued our friendship, or left you feeling unappreciated. I’m sorry for how often I’ve taken you for granted.
I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve prioritized my relationships with men – all men and any men, not just the ones that I’ve dated – over my relationship with you. I’m sorry for how often I’ve ditched you to hang out with the boys and assumed that you’d be cool with it because, hey, boys. I’m sorry for how frequently I’ve made you feel that you are lesser than. I’m sorry that I’ve treated you as if you were lesser-than.
I’m sorry for all of the times that I made you feel as if we were secret competitors for titles like The Smart Girl, or The Funny Girl, or The Writer Girl. I’m sorry that I bought into the idea that there could only be one of each, and that one of us would have to fail in order for the other to succeed.
I’m sorry for all of the times that your successes made me so sick with jealousy that I could barely stretch my mouth into a smile. I should have celebrated them, but instead I thought about how much of a failure I was compared to you.
I’m sorry for all of the little tricks that I pulled to make you feel unwelcome. I’m sorry for the cliques, for the obvious laughter at your expense, for the notes that you weren’t-supposed-to-see-but-yes-of-course-you-were-supposed-to-see. I’m sorry that I’ve allowed these tactics to bleed into my adult life, into workplaces and friendly get-togethers and social media.
I’m sorry that I encouraged you to confide in me, and then treated your secrets like a sort of currency that could buy me higher social standing or else five minutes of some boy’s of attention. It didn’t do me any good anyway – all it did was teach other people that they couldn’t trust me.
I’m sorry for all of this and more. I’m sorry for the ways that I’ve been a bad feminist and a bad friend. I can’t change what I’ve done – all that I can do is apologize and promise to do better.
I’m so sorry.
And I will do better.