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Dear Olivia:

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Dear Olivia:

Its hard to say what the most important effect you've had on my life has been. Even after determining what I need to talk about and what I want to say, it has taken me quite a while to decide how to organize my thoughts.

The most obvious thing, of course, is that you were the one who dragged me into Medfest, kicking and screaming all the way. I'd been hiding from those scary Medfest people all year, and if you hadn't made me do it, I might never have gotten involved. That would have been a terrible loss for me, and I'd like to think for the organization as well. The thing about Medfest is that, like several friendships or near-relationships I've had, the stress and pain and sorrow were part of what make the good parts so good, and it made me stronger and more capable in the long run. I have regrets and residual bitterness over some of the things that happened, but never over my involvement as a whole.

At much the same time, the spring of freshman year, you were teaching me how to be a woman, and how to attract a man’s attention. You had the patience to explain in detail how to walk, how to flirt, how to respond, what to look for, and so much else. I didn't know any of those things, and none of it comes naturally to me. I learned a lot from observing you too, not just that year but all through college, although in all fairness some of what I learned was also what not to do.

I was always envious of you, and the way you could so effortlessly attract male attention. At one party, I was actively trying to pick someone up. You walked up and within five minutes had him going upstairs with you. Now, in that particular instance, I think I ended up with the best result of the three of us in the long run, but that's not the point. What got me was the way you could do in a heartbeat what for me would take serious effort, and likely still not succeed.

I think it was about a year and a half ago, at one of johnstevensaul's parties, that we had the conversation that really made me stop and think. I don't know how exactly we got on the subject, nor do I remember the exact words you used. The gist of it was that you always saw me as someone with a great deal of pride, and that you envied that in me and wondered how I could envy you.

For someone with as little self-esteem and confidence as I usually have, that was an unusual description. Still, I can see why you saw me that way. As much as I disparage myself, I don't put up with it from anyone else. And I learned a long time ago that acting confident, strong, and self-possessed will usually make other people believe it. Sometimes you even come to believe it yourself.

It had never occurred to me that anyone who knew me well would be convinced by my act. On the one hand, it does make me wonder how well anyone really knows me, if they can believe in the false front I put up for the world. On the other hand, clearly I must doing a good job of projecting what I want others to see about me. At some points, I think the truth is not how we perceive ourselves, nor how others perceive us, but somewhere in between.