Dear Prudence

Help! All My Lazy Friends Think Being “Gifted” Is What Held Them Back.

Read what Prudie had to say in this week’s Dear Prudence Uncensored.

Each week, Prudie discusses a tricky letter with a colleague or friend, just for Slate Plus members. This week Jenée Desmond-Harris and Akoto Ofori-Atta discuss Prudie’s response to:Gifted Burnout.”

Dear Prudence, 

My company relocated me to my home town for a temporary project. I’ve made some friends from work, but have basically started hanging out with my old high school friends. Before I came, I didn’t think I wanted to make any new friends besides maybe some work friends because I was only going to be here for six to eight months. It’s been two months and I’m not sure my high school friends and I are still in the same places in our lives.

The one thing that keeps annoying me about their behavior is that they keep discussing how being called “gifted” as a child set them up for failure. The issue I have with that is that none of these people actually tried to do anything significant with their “gifts.” I ended up going to an Ivy League school and worked my butt off to get scholarships. Meanwhile, none of my friends even applied to their dream school because they didn’t think their parents could afford it and didn’t even try to look for scholarships. Each of them just went to the good, but very average, local universities.

All of them complain about any number of things having to do with their lives, but aren’t able to do anything to try to fix it. It’s like they think the fact that they were gifted meant the world was going to hand them everything on a silver platter. So, I’m at the point where I’m getting a little tired of hanging out with them in situations where we talk a lot. I’m a very social person, so just having two work friends isn’t going to be good enough for me. Do you think I should say something to my friends? If so, should I tell them that they actually need to work towards the life they want or something else? Should I actually try to make new friends even though I have, at most, six more months?

—Gifted Burnout

Read Prudie’s original response to this letter.

Akoto Ofori-Atta: I have to say, if I ever caught you talking about me and my talents and you put “gifts” in quotes, friendship over.

Jenée Desmond-Harris: Hahahaha

Akoto: The letter-writer is a piece of work! Part of me feels like they really want to talk shit about their friends but have no one to complain to so they wrote to you.

Jenée: Oh my God.

Akoto: I did not read any part of this letter generously at all.

Jenée: But you’re right, this might be exactly what’s going on. LW also wants to talk about going to an Ivy League school. You just know the friends are on the other side saying, “Our old high school classmate won’t shut up about Yale.”

Akoto: I feel this way about 80 percent of Prudie letters, but I am really dying to hear the other take.

Jenée: Wait, what if I start a new weekly feature that’s like, “You don’t have to pretend to have a question. You can just complain about the people in your life and we’ll publish it
or I’ll respond ‘That sounds hard.’”

Akoto: Haha perfect. I mean one piece of additional advice I would give LW is if they are indeed social, they should find new friends because I bet their high school friends don’t want to hang out with them anyway! This way, everyone wins.

Jenée: You know what else is a very telling obnoxious phrase in the letter: “Good, but very average local universities.” WHO SAYS THAT?

Akoto: !!!

Jenée: I just feel like anyone who describes someone else’s school as “good, but very average” also has a host of other personality issues.

Akoto: There is soooo much shade in this letter.

Jenée: So so much. Why are you sizing these people up?? Also can you imagine this: “Should I tell them they actually need to work toward the life they want?”

Akoto: “None of these people actually tried to do anything significant with their ‘gifts’” How you gonna call your friends “these people?”

Jenée: Imagine you’re at happy hour and your quasi-friend is like, “Guys, I have something to say: You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé. Do better.”

Akoto: “Instead of scrolling Instagram, consider reading? I recommend this book called The Secret.

Jenée: Think and Grow Rich or whatever it’s called.

Akoto: Hahah yes the entire cannon. The 48 Laws of Power.

Jenée: LW possibly listens to Joe Rogan and does CrossFit (no offense, I know you do CrossFit and I have done it too but there is a type).

Akoto: Letter writer read ‘em all and has it all figured out! (I do not do CrossFit, just something CrossFit adjacent!)

Jenée: Important correction.

Akoto: Thank you for allowing it to go to print.

Jenée: Well, I did the real thing and once we had to go around during warmups and say what book we were reading. All the titles they shared were airport self-help books.

Akoto: I believe you.

Jenée: And then there was a reading of a Wikipedia entry about a veteran who could have killed two children in Afghanistan but did not and we were supposed to work out in his honor. But I digress!

Akoto: Not a reading! LOL.

Jenée: Yes a Wikipedia reading. Anyway.

Akoto: I’ve been to your CrossFit, I see this happening.

OK back to the letter.

Jenée: My FORMER CrossFit. (I quit because I can’t squat, not because of the vibes, I have to admit.)

Back to the letter.

Akoto: I also am really struggling with “I’m very social” but also thinking so deeply about whether or not to make new friends. They’re just thinking about it too hard. Which is one more point for the “this letter is just space for me to vent about my unimpressive friends.”
Anyway, I do hope LW takes your very thoughtful advice and tries to find ways to stop being a judge-y asshole.

Jenée: Me too! And I hope their friends have wonderful lives despite only going to average universities. We have to end but, side note, I’m certain they mentioned the gifted thing no more than one time.

Akoto: It totally happened once, and they were probably poking fun at themselves!

Jenée: ^This.

Akoto: Anyway, yes, good luck to LW friends and LW friends only!