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Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Stay in This Class to Protect My Friend?

Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Stay in This Class to Protect My Friend?

Kat Rosenfield

Dear Auntie SparkNotes,

I really want to drop AP United States History. I'm having trouble with the veritable mountain of homework it brings, and it's conflicting with the rest of my life.

My friend is thriving in that class. She's all lined up to be valedictorian, which is awesome, and nobody deserves it more than her. The problem is our two friends, these two boys also competing for valedictorian. They don't realize that they're harassing her, despite the fact that they relentlessly tease her for her personal beliefs. They've also been physically aggressive before, throwing her pencils and school supplies into the trash and shoving her into a locker. I have had to intervene to keep them from doing it again.

The thing with these two is that they all think it's a giant joke. Everything they do is "ironic", and not at all harmful to the people they harass. My friend told me that she will not tell administration or report them because they're still good friends, but the problem has not and will not fix itself. If she talked to them, there's a high chance they'll ignore or dismiss her. If I leave, we're both afraid it's going to get worse, but I don't know if I have three terms of it left in me.

Alas, Sparkler, neither do it. But fortunately, that's beside the point! Because even if you could tough it out in this class for your friend's sake, I think it's pretty obvious that you would still need to drop it for your own. Running interference for your friend is not your job, and especially not when it's coming at the expense of your own ability to thrive in school—and on that same note, it's not worth it for your friend to make As in history if it means failing at basic life skills. You need to adjust your courseload so that you're not drowning in work that's beyond your capacity to handle, and your friend needs to stop hiding behind another person and learn to handle conflicts on her own, like a grownup.

Unfortunately, your friend is not here, so we're gonna have to focus on you, and more specifically, your concept of boundaries. Because I know you're worried and frustrated, but darling, your friend's relationship with these guys—who, it must be pointed out, she still considers good friends despite their behavior—is entirely none of your business. It's her call whether or not to talk to them, and her choice how to deal with their reaction (or lack thereof) if she does. Maybe she'll be less tolerant of their nonsense when she has to handle it on her own—or, alternatively, maybe she's just not that bothered by it and would be content to write it off as dumb teasing between friends. The point is, given the opportunity, your friend will make her own decisions when it comes to where she draws the line. Please step back so that she can figure it out.

Meanwhile, your first priority should be sorting out your own needs, including dropping the class if it's more than you can handle. Not every AP course is a good fit for every student; you need to do what's right for you. And once you're not so up close and personal with the ongoing drama between your friend and these guys, you may find that it takes care of itself, or at least fades into the background in a way that requires no further discussion. But if it doesn't, then you can always support your friend in a way that's helpful and appropriate without being overinvolved: namely, encouraging her to do something about it, and being there for her if that something is hard.

Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at advice@sparknotes.com.
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Topics: Life
Tags: auntie sparknotes, bullying, high school, ap classes, stress, advice, bullies, anxiety, friendship advice, protective friends, how to deal with bullying

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About the Author
kat_rosenfield

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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