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Sex + Relationships

Are You a “Bad Friend”? Short Answer: Maybe.

In her 2020 self-titled album, British songstress Rina Sawayama flexes her lyrical and vocal prowess as she recalls the highs and lows of her life up until now. Simply and fittingly dubbed, “Sawayama”, the thirteen-song body of art tells tales of generational trauma, ego, self-love, and a number of other themes that anyone living in this turbulent time can relate to. 

Track number eight, “Bad Friend,” reads almost like a text message. In it, Sawayama speaks to an estranged friend with whom she lost contact. Lines like, “I guess we fell out, what was that all about?”, and, “God, it’s insane how things can change like that” deeply resonated within me– and painfully so. 

At the peak of the song’s chorus, Sawayama ponders: “Maybe I’m a bad friend?”

And what a question that is. 

The first relationships we develop and maintain outside of our familial dynamics are platonic and with the people we will eventually call “friend.” As social creatures, human beings naturally desire connection, companionship, and closeness with others. Friends are necessary to our emotional and personal development as we navigate the growing pains of adolescence and adulthood. 

When we look back to monumental and character-defining moments in our lives, we can often remember the faces that were present as we became the current versions of ourselves today. 

We can also remember, however, the people that entered our lives and did not stay. 

Perhaps we let them go. Cut them off. Or outgrew them. Maybe they outgrew us. Or maybe some semblance of trust was lost, someone was betrayed, and someone else disrespected. 

It might have been a simple miscommunication or festering discomfort. A relationship with an expiration date. 

Whatever it was, it deserves reflection. 

Oftentimes when we go through friendship breakups (and yes, those exist), it might be easy to shift the blame to the other party. We can remember every instance in which they fell short as a friend, disappointed us, and failed to meet our expectations. 

While this may very well be true, we owe it to ourselves to focus that critical attention on ourselves as well. When we look back, we might be able to point out situations where we, too, might have been a “bad friend.” 

There is absolutely no harm in saying, “Hey, that was a crappy thing I did”, or, “I shouldn’t have said or done that.”

This self-reflection is necessary and fundamental to our interpersonal and internal growth. It can dictate how we will build and maintain both current and future relationships of the familial, platonic, and romantic kind. If we can understand our past shortcomings, we can gain more insight that will allow us to be more active and present in the connections we share with our loved ones. The people we care about deserve that.

Furthemore, we owe it to ourselves to not only recognize our less than ideal behavior, but to forgive ourselves for it as well. 

The window of opportunity to ask for forgiveness from the people we’ve wronged sometimes closes, and though we might regret that, we can still acknowledge our own wrongdoing and move on from it. Self-realization, if nothing else, allows us to create a version of ourselves we’d like to be, even if some people are not able to experience the “new you.” 

And though we change for the better, grow, and forgive ourselves for our mistakes, it is also okay if no reconciliation between us and former friends occurs.  

You may not be a bad friend. They might not be one either. But it’s also okay for people to grow as individuals and simply wish each other well from afar. 

So if you think you might be a bad friend, fret not, because this is the very first step to self-reflection and growth. 

We have hope. 

You, me, and Rina Sawayama.

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Kaya Fraser

Howard '23

Kaya is a junior English major at Howard University. When she is not writing or reading, she enjoys watching anime, reading comics and discovering new music. Kaya also has a passion for activism and likes to watch social/political commentary videos in her spare time.
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