I have no right to be upset, right?
January 13, 2015 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm going through a very tough time personally (and I'm not someone who usually has "tough times") and my dearest friends have done something that I am fairly sure I should not be upset with in any way, yet I kind of feel upset. Help?

I am currently in the middle of a rather terrible time, personally. While I try to reshape and rebuild my life one of the main bright spots and goals is a trip I have been planning for several years, a trip I would take alone in an attempt to figure some things out inside me and to also get me outside me. For health and money reasons I cannot take this trip until 2016.

I explained this (very long and quite obscure) trip around the world to my dearest friends a few months ago, at the time their response was that this was a big piece of travel to undertake all at once alone but that it would likely be good for me, etc. They never expressed any personal interest at the time.

Fast forward two months, they told me last night that they have come into a little money and are going to use it to take a trip around the world this spring. They explained their plans to me, their plans are almost 100% what I told them I was planning. This is not a common journey/route in any way.

I feel completely deflated, I know I have no rights to any experience in life but it really feels like I've been robbed.

I'm wrong, right?
posted by Cosine to Human Relations (83 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're not wrong, but I don't think you can complain either. :(
posted by maryr at 9:31 AM on January 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm wrong, right?

Well, yes. How will them going on this trip affect you at all in any way? How does it detract from the experience you will have when you travel later?
posted by kate blank at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2015 [12 favorites]

Feelings aren't wrong, they're how you feel. You're allowed to feel sad and jealous that your friends are going on a trip very similar to the one you planned for yourself. What you shouldn't do is use your feelings as proof that your friends are terrible people, or that you've been "robbed"- you'll still get to have your fun when it's your time to travel. Grieve the loss of being able to travel right now, but don't hold it against anyone. I wish you luck.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:33 AM on January 13, 2015 [44 favorites]

I don't think there's any such thing as "wrong" or "right" in terms of why you feel what you feel. And I kind of understand how you feel, even.

Instead of trying to talk yourself out of feeling bad, I would explore that feeling instead. You feel robbed - but can you maybe reflect on why it is you feel that way? What is the exact, specific thing that you feel like you've been robbed of?

Let me be clear on something - I'm not suggesting you do this in order to talk yourself out of it. I'm suggesting you do this in an effort to pin down exactly what it is you feel yourself. For instance, your thinking about it could lead you to this:
"I was gonna do that, that's not fair!"

"Hang on a second. What isn't fair about it?"

"Um...well...I wanted to be the one to go first!"

"Why was wanting to be the one to go first and come back important to me?"

"....Because I wanted to be unique among my friends and stand out and be special!"
Or it could lead you to this:
"I was gonna do that, that's not fair!"

"Hang on a second. What isn't fair about it?"

"Um...well...I've been saving and saving to be able to do this and now they just up and can go like it's nothing!"
You know? Something is fueling WHY this is upsetting you, and it may be worth trying to get to the bottom of that, so you can tackle that issue instead. You know - if it's a matter of "wanting to stand out and be special to them", you could figure out something that distinguishes you TO them. Or maybe just talk to them about how that's how you feel (and maybe you'll find that they already see you as being unique for something else that's totally awesome that you never even knew). Or, if it's a matter of money, then you can go on to solve that problem instead. Or whatever it is - the thing is, whatever it is, you'll know that THAT is the REAL reason you're upset and can address that.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on January 13, 2015 [70 favorites]

If your friend is the oblivious sort, it probably hasn't occurred to them that there's even a problem here. They may have forgotten entirely that you were the one to put the idea into their head in the first place! This happens all the time, even when the people involved are very nice and good friends. People aren't always very good at keeping track of this sort of thing, especially if you haven't spoken with them about it since.

If your friend is less oblivious/knows perfectly well where they got the idea from, then they likely put some thought into whether it would be better to hide the particulars of their trip from you, or to just go ahead and tell you and hope it worked out.

Either way, two things are simultaneously true: your friend is absolutely allowed to look out for their own happiness in whatever way they see fit. You are absolutely allowed to tell your friend that you aren't the person they should be talking to about their trip.

I'm sorry you've ended up in this situation! It sounds frustrating and sad and I wish you all the best.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:35 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Like you, I mentioned to a friend a dream trip I was saving up for; imagine my surprise when just a couple months later that same friend went to that very obscure & hard-to-get-to locale. Like you, it felt like I was robbed; not that I can't still go there eventually anyway, but now it feels like I'd just be copying him, rather than following my own dream.

I think we're both just human and feeling jealous that they went there first, even though they had never thought of traveling to X before. All I can advise you is, it hurts but don't let it out: keep it inside, never let your friend know how this 'theft' hurts your feelings. Because unfortunately, there isn't any rule that says our friends can't go somewhere just because we thought of it first.

I'm sorry, I really do know exactly how you feel, but this is one we've just got to suck up.
posted by easily confused at 9:36 AM on January 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Whenever someone asks this kind of "am I right to be mad?" question, my response is always the same: what would you do if we all told you that you had no right to be mad? If the answer is that you would work on feeling better about it then you should do that anyway, whether or not you have the right to be mad, because being upset sucks, and not being upset will feel better. If that's impossible for you right now, then acknowledge that you're upset, let yourself feel it, then work toward putting this energy into taking your trip (and remind yourself that you'll have some good tips when you're ready!)
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Turn your jealousy in to envy and tell your friend about it. "You know, last night when you told me about your upcoming trip I was really happy for you and still am. I'm also feeling more than a little put out because the trip you described is the trip I told you about months ago and it's hard for me to not feel envious and jealous about how you get to go on this journey that is very personal and specific to me, but I can't yet. I wanted to be honest about my feelings with you because I'm a little surprised that you seem to have forgotten how much this trip's specifics mean to me on a personal level. Does that make sense?"

And then start a dialogue. Be vulnerable. Work through it. I'd be bummed out too. Maybe this is a great chance to bond and learn from each other, you know?
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:39 AM on January 13, 2015 [16 favorites]

You're right to feel this way. You've had obstacles to overcome, and this was a big meaningful goal for you.

Your friend picked it up at Barney's on the way home.
posted by Dashy at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2015 [49 favorites]

You're not wrong to feel upset, in that if you feel upset you are upset. It's a genuine reaction so don't be afraid to feel it. However I would say that they may have "stolen" your itinerary, but they have not "stolen" your trip. How you will experience this is completely individual to you. They will not be standing on every exact spot that you will stand. You will see different views, meet different people, have completely different experiences. They might view it as a holiday, while you are viewing it as something much deeper and so your actual living of the trip is likely to be from a completely different perspective than them. Your trip is still totally yours, they will just have a different version of it, and it won't stop your adventure being completely personal to you and hopefully as rewarding as you would like it to be.

Yes it was thoughtless - maybe kinder to say oblivious - of them, but bear in mind that by the time you go their holiday will be a distant memory, and they will no doubt be full of envy that you have all these wonderful memories still waiting to happen. And if you're trying to stay positive, they might well have some tips for you that will enrich your journey even more. Think of it as them going on a scouting mission for you so that you really get the most out of your own time away.
posted by billiebee at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Oh, and another point which may be of some comfort - even though your friend is going to the same places, that doesn't mean that they will have the same trip you have. Because you and they are different people.

I have proof - I went to Rome a couple years ago, and my best friend had been there a couple years prior to that - and she was ALL excited for me and had all sorts of tips and advice and suggestions of things to see.

And based on her recommendation, I made a point of staying for a couple nights in one particular hotel that she described in these glowing, idyllic terms; she made it out like the owner was this sweet grandmotherly type who was loving and charming, and my friend said she loved the place so much that when they were checking out she cried and hugged the owner. But when I got there, I found the owner to be more smothering than motherly, and a little prissy, and I actually didn't like it all that much.

But that's the thing - my friend and I are different people, and so our reactions to the hotel were TOTALLY different - and yet totally accurate to our own preferences. And the rest of the trip was probably the same way - she reacted to things differently than I did because we're different people. So even though we went to a lot of the same places, we still had different experiences, and thus had different, unique trips.

And the same is true of you and your friends.

I still recommend reflecting on the roots of your being upset, so you can treat and soothe yourself for that; but if that thought is any comfort, there it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on January 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

Purely anecdotal but....

When I was at University, I mentioned to an old School Friend on the phone that I was planning on doing "Camp America" that summer. She listened and said how cool it sounded and then proceeded to go and organize her OWN Camp America experience, something she was oblivious to until I told her about it. Worse yet, she then talked to me about it as if it was her own idea!

I also got to go to Camp America that year, but I never really truly got over that feeling that I had been somewhat shafted.

I wanted that experience, it had been my idea, my dream dammit!

That same friend also pulled other sh*t like that during our friendship (when I was travelling in Australia, she flew out to Australia to do some travelling too!!!!) and I never really wanted anything from her, except credit where credit was due. I wanted her to admit that if it hadn't been for me, she would never have had the idea to do Camp America.

Of course, I never got such validation from her... and obviously, I still feel those same feelings of resentment about it today - 10 years later.

I don't think you should feel bad for feeling robbed... you WERE robbed!! you really were. But still, have faith in the knowledge that when you're travelling around the world in 2016 and experiencing all these amazing things, your friend will be back home and their own round the world experience will be over. Chin up! The important fact is that you WILL get to go eventually, and that's something not everyone can say!
posted by JenThePro at 9:46 AM on January 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I would be angry, too. Mostly angry at the money and health issues that are causing the trip to happen later than I would like.

When they responded that it was a lot of travel to do alone, were they hinting that they wanted to be invited to join you? Meanwhile, it's important to you to take the trip alone. I understand that. It kind of sounds like they decided, "oh well, if you don't want us to go with you, we'll go separately." Would it help to tell yourself that their desire to go on this trip is because you're going and it sounds to them like an awesome trip that you thought up and it's an experience they would love to share with you, except that you prefer to go alone and they are respecting that preference by going separately?

Assuming these friends are local to you, I might try to turn it into a win-win where you can house-sit for them while they're gone, and then they can house-sit for you while you're gone.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 9:46 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm going through a very tough time personally ... I am fairly sure I should not be upset ... yet I kind of feel upset.

You are going through a tough time and this is negatively influencing your perception of otherwise normal or OK things.

In other words, the lens through which you view the world has been temporarily thrown out of focus.

Not your fault. This is what it means to be merely human.

Step back, take a deep breath, refocus and reengage. The lens will come back into focus and then you can decide how you feel.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:47 AM on January 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

You feel the way you feel. There's no "should" about it. It's not about "rights." You feel this way. You feel sad and annoyed and upset and envious and cheated and un-special. Those are your feelings. You should feel your feelings and process them and try to figure out ways to deal with them.

Now, if you're asking whether you should tell your friends that you're upset, maybe not. Because it's not likely to make you feel better, and it will likely make them feel worse, and it won't change the situation.

But that doesn't change how you feel. And it doesn't change the fact that you should honor your feelings and work on figuring out how to make your peace with the situation you find yourself in.
posted by decathecting at 9:47 AM on January 13, 2015

Also, if it makes you feel any better, it's clear that your friends think your trip idea is awesome. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that BS. So their lack of expression of interest when you first told them about it is belied by the fact that they now want to be just like you.
posted by decathecting at 9:49 AM on January 13, 2015 [16 favorites]

How about this: you're not wrong to feel upset, but neither is your friend wrong for planning this trip, really.
posted by mskyle at 9:50 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

You wanted to create and have a personal journey, an individual adventure. Your friends decided to take your adventure and do it themselves thereby taking part of the reason you wanted to do it in the first place. I'd be upset too. You are having a difficult time and these people interlope on the fantasy that was helping you get by. Why couldn't they have used their own imaginations and made their own journey?

So, I think it's ok to be upset by this. I'm sure if you were in a better place it would be easier to let this go. That said, they likely didn't mean anything by it, they just have their heads up their asses. I say it would be ok to gently call them out on not being able to do something unique. Tell them part of the thing that you liked about taking the trip was that it was supposed to be unique and they just ruined that aspect of it for you and that they should be more mindful in the future before copying someone else. Then try and be the bigger person and wish them the best on their trip anyway.

Then try and not let it weigh you down too much. Remind yourself that it will be an amazing trip even if your friends also took it. Even if they get there first it will still be more your trip than theirs. Also it sounds like it's not just one friend but at least two who are doing this. Going alone on a long overseas trip that you came up with is more impressive by far. You can hold this over them for a long time if you want: "remember when you couldn't come up with your own itinerary and had to use mine? And I was able to do it by myself but you had help? good times!"
posted by Green With You at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think your response is perfectly understandable. But, you must take the opportunity to get feedback from this friend on the places visited so that you can avoid mistakes they made. Use their knowledge to make your trip even more awesome than it would have been if you didn't have this gem of an opportunity to have someone experience it first and provide you with advise.
posted by waving at 9:54 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, I am perfectly clear on why this bothers me. A big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share. This is a group that has done a lot of travelling, for various reasons I have travelled little by comparison. I wanted MY own trip, dammit.

I am not doing the trip anymore, I will think up something else to do. I have no interest in cocktail conversations of:

"Hey, you're finally back, where did you go again?"
"I went to x and x and x and x and x"
"Oh neat, isn't that the trip Tom and Sue did last year?"
"Yup, that's the one..."
posted by Cosine at 9:55 AM on January 13, 2015 [10 favorites]

I personally would not rush ahead to do something very fancy and special that a friend wanted to do but was too broke to do and that had never occurred to me until my friend talked about it. That's bound to provoke hyper awareness of inequality in the friendship, for one thing, and it's bound to remind my friend of the limits they're facing right now at a time when things are already difficult. I don't think it's an intentional slight, and there's certainly no conventional etiquette rule against it, but I think it's good friendship-practice to avoid as much as possible things which highlight inequality and constraint in the relationship. Yes, it's true, you have no choice but to be okay with it - and if these people are generally kind and loving friends it would be silly to let this spoil a friendship - but I get where you're coming from and it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by Frowner at 9:56 AM on January 13, 2015 [25 favorites]

Thoughts and feelings don't usually involve "rights", as in "I have a right to be.." or "to feel...".
It usually involves our monkey brain, or our ego, which demands that it be front and center at all times, and treated like a special little snowflake.

You know who else travels around the world? LOTS OF PEOPLE.
It's not like you've come upon something unique and wonderful.
It's a trip.

NOW, having said that, I think you need to redirect your focus away from their trip and focus on YOUR trip.
Questions have the ability to make us focus and direct our attention elsewhere.
Here are a few suggestions:

"How can I make my trip even better?
How can I ensure that I have an even better time than the one I was planning?
What can I do to ensure that this trip happens?
Is there anything I can do to make it happen earlier?
Is there anything I can do to make it even MORE awesome?"

Your brain will come up with answers.

Again, focusing on yourself rather than your friends is key here.

Taking great umbrage isn't going to do either party any good.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think almost anyone would be upset if this happened to them. This seems like a gut-level human nature thing: when you come up with a unique idea, stumbling on someone else with the same idea already feels like a sucker punch (ask anyone who works in a creative field). Having someone take your idea and not credit you with it feels like a violation. Our ideas are what make us special. It's like they stole something intangible from you, and either don't realize or don't care that they did it.

But the thing is, they didn't actually do anything wrong - especially if they didn't remember that it was your idea in the first place (and if they told you about their trip without referencing yours, there's a good chance that they didn't remember. Despite it having paramount importance to you, it could easily have been just a blip to them). What matters is that something in the way that you described your trip, or something in the excitement you had for doing it, translated to them as WOW THAT IS A THING PEOPLE CAN DO, which stuck in their brains. And when they found themselves with an unexpected windfall, your idea is what seemed like the best one. This is actually a testament to you, though that's small consolation. Imitation as the truest form of flattery in the truest sense.

I would second EmpreeeCallipygos, that you should explore what it is about this trip that resonated so deeply for you that it's become your touchstone for getting through your awful year.

- Is it the trip and what you'll see there? In that case being second to do it won't change a thing - and you can absolutely ask your friends to not tell you anything about it until you come back from your own journey, so you can compare notes with a fresh mind.

- Is it the story you want to tell of doing it? The I-am-so-cool-I-did-this-thing aspect? In that case, their doing it first can be a big issue, but you have enough time to change how you want your own trip to go, alter the route or some destinations, add a challenge into it (write a book about it, make a photo journal, whatever makes it personal and uncopyable) or otherwise get your cool-factor back. Or you can stick to your plan, remember that most of the people you'll tell about it won't know your friends, and as far as your friends and your common acquaintances go, once you've been and come back, you'll all have this thing in common that is still crazy cool.

- Is it that you want to be the only one who did this? That might have been short-lived regardless. If you went on the trip, gushed about it, and then your friends copied you a few months later, would it bother you as much? Try to frame it that way -- they're still copying you, but doing it without your panache - and without the benefit of hearing how you did it so they can get the details right. I guarantee you your own trip will be better, because it was your inspiration. If you can, pity them.

TL;DR: of course you're right to be upset. But try to work through what about it makes you most upset, work through that as best you can, and enjoy the heck out of your own trip, because no matter what your friends do, it's still 100% yours.
posted by Mchelly at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

A big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share.

And I will quickly add that I get this - it's legit to want to be able to be like your friends in that you are able to contribute something special and interesting about your experiences. I think that's reasonable. Obviously, the world isn't infinite and we can't all be perfect little unique snowflakes, but it's okay to want to have cool and unique stories, and I think people forget how much of a privilege that can be.
posted by Frowner at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, PLEASE don't give up on your trip. (If nothing else, do you want to give those fuckers the satisfaction of stealing it from you?)

I think maybe taking this time to figure out how to put your unique stamp on it would be a good idea, so that when you get to that cocktail party, it'll look more like this:

"Hey, you're finally back, where did you go again?"
"I went to x and x and x and x and x"
"Oh neat, isn't that the trip Tom and Sue did last year?"
"Not really, because they stayed in x hotel and did y tour, but I decided I wanted a more authentic experience so I did z tour and ate at xy restaurant while I was there...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on January 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

There's a word for this type of person; she's called a "biter"Urban.

Yes, you're wrong to be upset. What she has done is awful and diminishing to you, and frankly robs you of some of the specialness of this journey you had carefully planned. She is not a true friend.
posted by jayder at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I explained this (very long and quite obscure) trip around the world to my dearest friends a few months ago, at the time their response was that this was a big piece of travel to undertake all at once alone but that it would likely be good for me, etc. They never expressed any personal interest at the time.

I'm just going to throw out a perspective, as someone who could do what your friend did (albeit on a smaller scale) in the next year or so. It's up to you to decide if this interpretation fits with your interactions.

I've done a fair bit of travel, and I have friends who are poorer than me and have not. I've sometimes talked to those friends about cool trips they could go on that would be some kind of hardship for them to save up for. On occasion, we've even talked about travel when their lives were kind of shitty. When we've had those conversations, I've tried really hard not to make the conversation about me, even if I get really into the hypothetical travel planning and think it would be a very cool trip to take. But right now, for instance, it's been 6 months since I came up with ideas for my friends to rent AirBnBs on Vancouver Island, and they probably don't have the money for it, won't anytime soon, and I'm thinking about my own summer vacation and hey, Vancouver Island's in the back of my head there, details already sketched out.

If I went, I'd feel a weird mix of grateful and guilty to my friend for contributing to my thinking on it, but it wouldn't be like I wasn't interested in the idea of going there from the start. But it feels weird all around: weird to go on a trip someone else has been planning, weird to avoid going to a place just because my friend might want to go there. I think Miss Manners would come down on the side of taking the trip, just like you wouldn't put off your own wedding for a year or season just because someone close to you is getting married. But like all non-trivial financial disparities between friends, it's an uncomfortable one, and I think your feelings can be legitimate even if they aren't grievances you should air.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go against the tide here.

Unless your friends acknowledged that your planned destination was so great they wanted to go, too, then I would see this as a personal dig at me and a sign that these "friends" are very very petty and insecure. I would not trust them much going forward, FWIW. People who you can trust don't need to one up you like this. So if they did not acknowledge this was your idea, you have my permission to severely limit your interactions with these folks in the future.

People who need to back-handedly hurt others are not your friends. Adjust yourself accordingly.

Uh, is it possible they honestly forgot about your plans and they don't know where the idea came from?

That's the only way this is OK.

Otherwise, you are right - they've just told you something about themselves and how they feel towards you. Like I said, adjust accordingly.

PS - Don't take the bait and get angry if this was done by them on purpose. Just move them into the "acquaintances not to be too trusted" category and move on.

Either they are unoriginal folks with bad memories, or they acted with malice. I don't know how you determine which they are, but it will be difficult staying friends without making a determination. Have they done stuff like this to others? Are they insecure? Gossip? Social climbers?

Figure it out. Adjust accordingly. Nope, you're not crazy to be upset about this. Best case it is a pain in the ass you have to put some effort into evaluating their behavior, worst case you've just lost some friends.

I hope they are just thoughtless but well meaning. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: deludingmyself: Ha! I spend a month on Vancouver Island every summer, as I have already been there you are allowed to go.

Seriously though, if you want any tips send memail.


if you are like me and would rather discover things for yourself that is great too!
posted by Cosine at 10:09 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

After reading back through, I think the particularly shitty thing is if you laid out a whole detailed itinerary and your friend just swiped it. You say "This is not a common journey/route in any way," but it's hard to tell from your question the level of copying that's occurred. I mean, Mexico-New Zealand-Vietnam-Bulgaria isn't a common journey, but I could plan a whole lot of really different trips that hit those four countries.

Anyhow, based on your update. Regardless of what you decide to do (and it's been less than 24 hours! and your friends haven't actually gone on the trip yet!), I would encourage you to come back to the green with your original trip plans, why they were appealing, and try to get us all to brainstorm "people who liked [trip A] might also enjoy [trip B]" options for you that are within your budget. I know what it's like to want to plan something unique, so if that's a central part of the attraction for you, I think you're right to adjust your plans.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:14 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

And to return to my earlier point - I would also spend some time (later, after the trip - which you ARE still gonna take, yeah?) reflecting on what it is about this that is having such an impact on you.

I mean, I'm not seeing you mention that your friend circle attaches any shame to one person having done the same trip that someone else just did - I mean, you quoted your hypothetical friends as saying "oh, cool, is that where Tom and Sue went last year?" and not "oh, yawn, Tom and Sue went there last year, it's so over, why'd you go there?" But that is clearly a thing you're feeling, and I would spend some time thinking about why.

But PLEASE go on the trip anyway. It'll still be different from what your friends did, because YOU'RE different, and you can do different things that they didn't do, and will have experiences that they didn't have, because you are different from them and the places will be different too. Just like my friend and I having totally different reactions to the same hotel.

Or - I also went to Florence, and my parents had been there the year previously and we did a lot of the same things - but I had the good luck to be in the right place at the right time and caught this awesome group of musicians hanging out on a sidewalk, and so I got to sit there chilling out and watching them for two hours and I bought their CD and it was awesome, and it was also something that my parents never got to do so it was something that was still MINE, you know?

And the same thing will happen to you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well frankly I'd be mighty pissed. Apparently your friends missed the entire point of your well-planned journey, which was not just to travel from point A to point B, but rather a sort of healing journey that suited your particular purpose.

You can take any of the many good suggestions up thread but before you throw away your dream, I would force myself to cool down a bit (I need to do that sometimes, it doesn't take long). If I then decided to continue with my original plans, I simply would not discuss the trip with anyone when I got back (your scenario: "isn't that the trip that x and y took?") I would not deny or confirm. I'd just look mysterious and say something like: "You know, it was such a unique experience, words won't do it justice." And then smile, and slip away.

I hope your terrible time is soon over, better times ahead.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tell them carefully how you feel, and suggest they do something else. You're right to feel this way, but it's understandable that they don't really get the whole thing without prompting. They're not horrible people, necessarily, they just won't understand unless you explain this difficult-to-explain thing. I know you feel petty for even wanting to do this -- the trick (and it won't be easy) is finding a way to suggest it to them without it being petty.

It's not. This is something you thought about a great deal, and which is meaningful to you because you discovered it, and will continue to discover it, yourself.

By not doing the same amount of reflection and creative thought, your friends are actually robbing themselves of a very meaningful experience. They should use the opportunity their windfall provides to think of a place that would be special for them.

I know you're probably too emotional and fuzzy about this to speak to them clearly right now. Maybe send a quick note asking them to talk to you again before they make any travel arrangements, mentioning that it's not because you're planning to tag along, but that you are hoping they'll consider another destination.

Then start composing a note persuading them to find their own way (even if you eventually communicate all this in a conversation rather than in written form, writing it down will help). Include some clear information about why it's important to you to go to this new place as an essentially unknown, undiscovered place, but also show them why they'll get a lot out of going to a place that is special to them rather than found by you.

There's a big wide world out there, and there's no reason you both can't have real adventures.

Then, because they still might be a little weirded out, bring or send them a small token of friendship (flowers, something you bake, something warm) that shows them you still love them.

If they say no and insist on going, know that your feelings are still legitimate, they're just difficult to articulate because there really isn't an English word for what you're trying to accomplish, which is too bad. You'll find a way forward anyway.
posted by amtho at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I totally get it. I think you're right to feel this way. I once had a friend tell me that she really really wanted to eat at this new hamburger joint but didn't have the money to eat out (and she really did have very limited funds). A few days later, I was in the neighborhood with my husband looking for a place to eat, and decided to eat at that very restaurant. I felt really guilty, like I did it on purpose to make her feel bad. She hyped it up so much that I was soo curious to try it out. I actually apologized to her- not a big long one, just a simple one sentence "dude I'm sorry I just couldn't resist, I hope you aren't really annoyed."

The truth is, if your itinerary is that close to theirs, they could not have just come up with it themselves, unless it's something standard. They somewhat purposely did this for whatever reason.

If I were you, I would call them out. "Hey, you know there's a whole world out there to explore, right? That's pretty unimaginative to pick the exact route that I've been planning for years."

And then if you really want to feel better about it, right before they go and it's too late for them to change the plans, mention that it's a shame they forgot to include the best part of your itinerary, because they really shouldn't miss it while they're out there. And then find something in a country close by that is amazing and play it up, like a rainforest cruise or whatever.

Of course that's kind of vindictive. Maybe you should get some new friends. New travel plans. Move on. :/ hugs
posted by cacao at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

On the one hand, I get all of the initial responses here advising you to take the high road and not say anything to your friends, because I guess conventional wisdom suggests that would be the classy way to handle this messed up, unfair, awkward situation. When you wrote "I am fairly sure I should not be upset with in any way" I get the sense you fully understand this.

And yet I'm agreeing with JenThePro - "you WERE robbed. You really were."

Because I'm sure a part of you would just like to have these two -- your DEAREST friends who SHOULD KNOW what this trip means to you because you TOLD them -- at least acknowledge this cold fact a little bit, like: "Hey Cosine, we know this is YOUR trip idea here. And if it hadn't been for you, we never would have had the idea to do YOUR around the world adventure." And really, good form dictates maybe they should be telling your mutual friends that this trip itinerary is YOUR idea and dream, and that you're going to do it in 2016. [On preview, I really like what amtho just suggested - tell them carefully how you feel.]

Let's be real. This was some thievery. jayder's right -- they are "biters" indeed.

You say these two are your "dearest friends?" I think not. I agree with jbenben's take on how you might need to "adjust accordingly" in your future interactions with these two.

Your actual real and true friends would remember that this unique journey is YOUR trip idea. They wouldn't need any reminders not to steal it. Friends worth having would actually remember what you told them it means to you, and how there are currently obstacles in your way. They would display a whole hell of a lot more thoughtfulness and care.
posted by hush at 10:29 AM on January 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

(My point with the hamburger story is that a friend realizes that even something small and insignificant like visiting a neighborhood restaurant when they know you can't, is not the kindest act)
posted by cacao at 10:30 AM on January 13, 2015

So about four years ago, my plan was to flee NYC and spend a few months living in Argentina. When money ended up being pretty tight and I couldn't go, suddenly one of my very dear friends suddenly decided to move to Argentina, a place he hadn't previously expressed any interest in.

I was a little upset! And then I waited a bit, and I wasn't upset any longer. My friend really enjoyed his time in Argentina and got into all sorts of adventures there.

It's a big world. Even if I do go to Argentina someday, I won't have the same experiences he had or see the same places he did. As it was, I ended up living four months in an entirely different part of the world that few of my friends have ever been to. It was a place that called to me on a personal level and I'm glad I did it.

A big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share.

This sounds really strange to me. If you could go anywhere in the world but had to tell no one, where would you go? That's the trip you should plan for. You can do this.
posted by mochapickle at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

I feel completely deflated, I know I have no rights to any experience in life but it really feels like I've been robbed.

I'm wrong, right?

You are never wrong to feel the things you feel. So yes, it's okay to feel upset. It's more important, probably, to interrogate in a really frank way why being first is so important to you. I'm guessing it's a desire for parity with your friends.

Have you considered asking them why they have chosen almost the same itinerary as you? I suspect it may be for the same reason you chose it: an unusual plan covering places they hadn't been before. Thoughtless of them, perhaps, but it seems to me that may be what happened.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:35 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree that you have a right to feel upset.

What are you going to do about that? Do you tell your friends you're upset they've swiped your plans? Then what - I mean, what would a good outcome from that conversation look like?

One of the reasons you wanted to do this trip was to be first among your friends to do it; if you abandon this plan and start making another one, are you content to A) not discuss any of the planning process or ask advice from these friends or B) tell them flat-out to not copy the trip you're planning before you take it?
posted by rtha at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I admit that this would piss me off if it happened to me. First for the irrational reasons-- "I wanted to do it first because it was my idea!" And second because the friends never asked for advice and input on the idea, basically shutting you out from a process you were clearly interested in so you could at least learn from their experience and provide valuable insight.

It's not something you can hold against them. They're likely just clueless.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 10:53 AM on January 13, 2015

It sounds like this itinerary was - looked at from one angle - a creative work. You told your friends about it, and bam, the next thing you knew they'd plagiarized you.

But they did so in a way you have no conventional "right" to object to, so you then had to come on here and ask us if you were being unreasonable.

That's never a good feeling.
posted by tel3path at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2015 [12 favorites]

Yourself and this person cannot possibly take the same trip, no matter how similar the plans are, because you're not going together, and you're not the same person. You will have unique experiences. Honestly, you probably don't have to change anything you told this person that may have inspired them (you said you're canceling this trip? why?) and still have a very different time. Please don't cancel a trip that you've been planning for years! However, maybe don't tell this person next time you're planning something cool.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I confronted them right away, I really had no choice as I assumed they were joking, it just sounded so improbable.

That they were joking was the only thing that could have made sense, it was a good half hour before I realized they were indeed seriously telling me they are planning on circumnavigating the globe the exact same route as I told them about 6 weeks ago and had no memory of my telling them.

They are actually pretty great people (they have stepped in to support me in my time of need far more than anyone else) they just have flaws like all of us, a big flaw is they can't really be confronted with any sort of complaint or perceived slight as their response is always defensive huffy.

Their response to my pointing out my side of things was a very predictable one; they are upset that I am tarnishing the fun of telling me about their trip by inserting my own narrative.
posted by Cosine at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

They are completely invalidating you in favour of their own narrative.

I understand--intimately--what it's like to feel indebted to people who have stood up for you, but "how dare you be upset that we are doing this thing which you've wanted to do for years and are pretending you never said anything" is not an okay thing for friends to do, for me.

For me, it would be time to re-evaluate the friendship.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

Or to put it a better way, "We're angry that you're tarnishing our fun when we've just tarnished yours."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

Yeah, these people are not really your friends. It sounds like your circle of so-called friends are very big on pecking order crap and nifty travel is apparently some status thing of big significance. And they STOLE your idea and then pissed on you for not adequately kissing their ass.

First, you need to have a little come to jesus about keeping your mouth shut about original ideas until after you have implemented them. You can't get an idea back if it gets stolen.

Second, ditch these so-called friends and seriously downshift your relationship to the entire circle of people that make you feel some competitive need to outshine them on some special snowflake trip when you can't currently keep up.

This is seriously sick "mean girl" type shit going down. I would give them both the double birdie so very fucking fast.

best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 11:01 AM on January 13, 2015 [17 favorites]

I realized they were indeed seriously telling me they are planning on circumnavigating the globe the exact same route as I told them about 6 weeks ago and had no memory of my telling them.

They are calling you a liar?? Fuck that noise.
posted by hush at 11:03 AM on January 13, 2015 [10 favorites]

Has anyone ever told you that they heard of your favorite band before it was cool? I think that's what you did to your friends. One big reason I think this is that you have now cancelled your trip based on how you will talk about the trip at cocktail parties.

I do not think that you have been robbed in any sense. All of the same places will be there. The food is not going to taste any worse because your friends were in that place before you.

As a thought experiment, it might be helpful to think about, if you had your way, when your friends would ever be able to travel on this itinerary. A year after you did? Two years? Ever?

I've said here before that anger is not justified where it arises out of pride or self-pity. I think that is the case here.

(this is assuming that your friends did not do this to spite you - if they did this out of spite, it's a different situation)
posted by Tanizaki at 11:12 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Whoa whoa whoa, slow down firing squad! I am flattered at the metadefence but I feel I have done a poor job explaining my friends.

This absolutely NOT a group that takes part in one-upsmanship or dramatics or anything like that, to a very impressive degree. It is a group of adults who act like adults, plan events together constantly and in my ten years hanging with them have never had any serious drama, and this is a closely knit group of 20ish people.

These two in particular may have their shortcomings but they are really loyal and supportive and good people (trust me on this based on my recent life experiences, give me the benefit of the doubt).

Also, believe it or not, it IS possible that they don't remember me telling them, the conversation only included one of them and he is a fog-headed flake, it is actually totally possible that he didn't file it away.

They would never, ever call me liar, he just said he did not recall the conversation (and there were MANY conversation with and about me around that time).
posted by Cosine at 11:13 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

They really might be that obtuse. I once lived with a bunch of roommates in a really awkwardly designed apartment, tons of bad angles. We tried all kinds of things, nothing worked. One day, I was so sick of looking it that I decided to fix it, once and for all, while my roommates were out. I spent an afternoon pushing furniture around, taking things down and putting them up in different places - I sweat, I thought that shit out, ok. They came back that night, and one (spectacularly egoistic) friend nodded her approval. The next day, she said, "Wow, it looks really great in here, I'm so glad I came up with the layout." I went (?!?) and laughed, because what else are you going to do?
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:14 AM on January 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd just like to point out that these things don't go together: "a trip I would take alone in an attempt to figure some things out inside me and to also get me outside me" and "a big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share."

Is this a trip you wanted to take primarily for yourself to have the experience and discover yourself a little better, or a trip you wanted to take to impress your friends?
posted by Andrhia at 11:17 AM on January 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'd be upset too, I'd quietly plan a different trip. I'd keep that new trip secret, which would make it even more special to me than the original trip. I'd just quietly go when the time came.

Once I was on the trip, I'd post very select, short updates on Facebook with a few intriguing photos, but put most of my effort into a private journal and private photos. When I got home the people who were really interested would ask me for more photos or stories, but the bulk of it would remain for my eyes only. Because it's MY TRIP.

I agree that a big part of the fun of a trip is sharing it -- or at least, the idea of sharing it. However, the reality of sharing can be disappointing, as you've found.

I can finally travel after decades of not being able to. At first, I looked forward to (occasionally!) documenting things on Facebook. And I found out quickly that I'd get competitive or envious comments along the lines of, "That minor observation that you just made about a culture I know nothing about reminds me of Other Culture, where I was welcomed by a local family and practically adopted and…" or "Your photos are the only way I'll ever see anything outside of Podunk, where as you know I have a very limited income."

Eventually I stopped posting much at all and focused on taking pictures for myself and keeping a journal. Now as I travel, I get a lot of satisfaction in imagining my older self snuggled cozily on the couch, looking at my photos of Amazing Trip Just for Me and reading snippets from the journals.
posted by ceiba at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Andrhia: They do go together, to me at least. One of the issues that has stopped me from getting out in the world to this point is some pretty crippling social anxiety, this group of friends is aware of this issue and has always been supportive of me doing what I can within the limits of my own condition.

By getting outside myself and experiencing things and then talking with this group when I get home it would be a real achievement and would be a nice group-bonding thing, kind of proving that years of warm support have fruited finally into my getting out and seeing things and also being comfortable once home to talk about myself amoung others.

That make any sense?
posted by Cosine at 11:24 AM on January 13, 2015

By getting outside myself and experiencing things and then talking with this group when I get home it would be a real achievement and would be a nice group-bonding thing, kind of proving that years of warm support have fruited finally into my getting out and seeing things and also being comfortable once home to talk about myself amoung others.


Did you tell THEM that? If not, would telling them that maybe help?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2015

Oh, Cosine, that update is heartbreaking. I retract my previous statement about seeking parity; this seems much, much closer to "Look at what you guys helped me do. Thank you." The disappointment in not being able to do that in the same way seems like it would be profound, to me.

Please tell them this, as EmpressCallipygos suggested.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:28 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is one of those things where it's totally fair to feel upset, but it's not fair to take it out on your friends. I think you're in for a bad time if you expect other people to understand the emotional value you attach to things like travel plans. They may have interpreted your initial conversation vastly different than you did.

If you need to make new plans to be happy, make new plans. If your friends ask you why your plans changed, shrug it off and say you thought up a better idea. Let go of the resentment, it's not worth it.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:29 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: feckless: It's ok, really, people can be tough and not tough all at once, we contain multitudes right?

I've already started a new document with new cities in new places that I can do instead. The end result would be the same. I'm not someone with a dearth of interesting places to visit on my list.

Let's see where you can fly to from Samarkand...
posted by Cosine at 11:34 AM on January 13, 2015 [10 favorites]

Well, it sounds like you've sort of worked through "should I feel weird about feeling upset about this" and are all the way into "well, feh, whatever, I'm gonna just go about what I was trying to do a different way," so...I think that whether or not you've gotten your original question answered, it looks like you're in a better place now. Which is ultimately good, so yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Good work everyone!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2015

By getting outside myself and experiencing things and then talking with this group when I get home it would be a real achievement and would be a nice group-bonding thing, kind of proving that years of warm support have fruited finally into my getting out and seeing things and also being comfortable once home to talk about myself amoung others.

And instead your friends just reinforced your own anxiety. I know you said they're good friends, but they are (even if unintentionally) sabotaging your growth.

As a general rule, if you have an important goal, don't tell people about it. First because broadcasting a go tends to kill your motivation because it makes you feel like you have already done it. Second because there is nothing anyone can say that will help the situation. They will either use the idea for themselves or discourage you. The only thing you can do that will be useful is to ask a trusted friend for help on a specific task involved in your goal.

Take this as a lesson in how to better go about goal-planning.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

A big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share.

I think it sounds like you felt that you have not been bringing as much to the table because of your social anxiety, and wanted to bring everything home to your friends triumphantly like a gazelle you killed. But I also think that it would be unreasonable to expect other people to have this expectation of travelling. When I go travelling to 'exotic' locations, for example, it's never about 'and then I can share it with my friends and tell them how great it was' but always about 'I want to experience this.' It would never have occurred to me to think that someone had set mental limits on places of the globe that were "theirs" to explore.

I think what also might be bothering you is the financial inequality - they can afford to do it now, you would have to wait. Have you had feelings of that before?
posted by corb at 11:58 AM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

OP, I'm thoroughly confused here by the way you've said you communicated with "Tom" and "Sue."

You've just updated that you only told Tom(??) before: "it IS possible that they don't remember me telling them, the conversation only included one of them and he is a fog-headed flake, it is actually totally possible that he didn't file it away."

Yet the way you initially wrote the question was as if you had originally told BOTH Tom and Sue: I explained this (very long and quite obscure) trip around the world to my dearest friends [plural] a few months ago, at the time their [plural] response was that this was a big piece of travel to undertake all at once alone but that it would likely be good for me, etc. They [plural] never expressed any personal interest at the time.

Huh? Are Tom and Sue the same person?
posted by hush at 12:02 PM on January 13, 2015

Sounds like the friendship is off the rails anyway, so what difference does it make at this point if they do it before you? You likely won't be friends whether you go or not. Look, it's as if your friend showed up at your wedding wearing a white gown--who the hell cares?! Some bridezillas would have a fit while other brides would not notice or care because they're too blissed out with their own experience. Don't be a diva, just go on the trip and show yourself and your friends you are your own person no matter what other people do.
posted by waving at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2015

Travel incorporates anticipation and planning (and the sharing thereof); the trip itself; and recollections after return—along with sharing of these.

The particular "friends" who swiped your anticipated trip sound difficult, and in your low moments, not helpful to your well being.

Years ago, a group of work friends formed a "Trekking Society." None of us had trekked but we did get together for drinks, talks and slides (back in the photochemical era we were). Some of us did, later, travel. It was fun to have each other's virtual participation. Decades letter we can reminisce about our imaginary trips and real adventures.

Much of the enjoyment of a trip is in the planning and sharing, so if you can possibly ditch the folks who are upsetting you—and find some others who will share your excitement and anticipation, we're with you on that project.
posted by xaryts at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2015

Response by poster: hush: Sorry, they are pretty joined at the hip, I was speaking shorthand saying "they" with the assumption that he had told her when I know now that not only did he not tell her, he promptly forgot it ever happened at all.

corb: There's no financial issue in this situation, we're pretty much at parity, I would assume.
posted by Cosine at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2015

I'm confused then - in the initial post you said "For health and money reasons I cannot take this trip until 2016" but it seems like they can afford it now. Is it just that they have more disposable income?
posted by corb at 12:11 PM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I mean there is no money issue between me and them, it appears I am getting less transparent, lol.
posted by Cosine at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2015

he promptly forgot it ever happened at all.

The human brain is really, really complex and one part of it can remember perfectly while some other part "forgets" entirely. I would bet on that scenario before I would bet on some outlandish coincidence where he just so happened, after utterly forgetting your discussion, to spontaneously plan the exact same statistically unlikely trip. So I am still betting on some weird competitive thing here.

I actually came back to add that it sounds to me like you probably told him about the trip as a means to grab some of that coveted social status in spite of currently being unable to travel, which is likely why they had to one-up you and steal your glory by taking the exact same trip before you can.

However, based on your updates about how supposedly wonderful these trip-stealing people are to you about your social anxiety: My experience in life has mostly been that people who are doing that sort of thing aren't as supportive as you think they are. In most cases, they want you to remain some second-rate person who needs their support and fawns on them for being so good to you when you don't deserve it etc. And that could also be motive for stealing your trip: "How dare you be cooler than the cool kids who have so nicely put up with your pathetic, second-rate self? You ingrate! That's disrespectful!"

You are, of course, free to continue thinking they are wonderful and you are just a screw-up. That is exactly how you framed your question to begin with: That you don't have a right to be upset by this, it's just you being an extra special negative little snowflake.

But I still hope you find better friends someday. Because your updates have not succeeded in talking me out of my initial assessment.

best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 12:23 PM on January 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

The sense I get from you is that you believe this was in no way done to one-up you, so you're not angry at your friends -- you simply feel that it will be different not to be the first person to ever go to these places on this route. I'm glad you're sticking up for them; they've done absolutely nothing wrong, whether they got this idea from you or not.

You can't steal a travel itinerary. This is exactly what happens with ideas like this - you say, "I'm going to a spa in the mountains," and somebody else says, "Oh, I should go to a spa in the mountains!" It's not stealing just because they do it before you instead of after you; the idea is exactly the same. You are exactly right that there is nothing here that is yours to let other people do or not; you are exactly right that begrudging them this would be absurd.

What you've learned here is that if you want to keep something to yourself, you keep it to yourself. When you share your great ideas with the world -- not your copyrightable ideas, but just stuff you think about -- you share them. I encourage you not to feel possessive about these places, but to do exactly what you're doing: say to yourself, "It turns out that I really want to go to places my friends haven't been, so I'm going to keep my itinerary to myself until I go."

Yes, if you'd gone after your friends, you might have had a little more of "that's the trip Tom and Sue took," but you also might have had opportunities to talk about it WITH them -- to make it something you could both share with people who hadn't gone and share with people who had gone. There's an upside to that.

In other words: don't fret. Your friends are fine. You're fine. You just discovered that you want something you didn't even know you wanted, which is to go somewhere that nobody knows you're going. Your friends didn't know you wanted that, and you didn't either, but now you do, and now you can plan your trip. I'm sad to hear that you've changed your plans, because I don't think it would have been as bad as you think not to be the sole trailblazer. But solo travel is up to you. It is for you, to do whatever you want it to do for you, and if you want to pick new places, pick new places and feel great about it. And if they ask you where you're headed, say, "I'll show you all the pictures when I get home."

Everybody's okay here. All your feelings are okay. All their choices are okay. You learned what was important to you; you adjusted. You're getting something from this trip already.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:24 PM on January 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

Mod note: Heya, asker, it's fine to post a followup or two but please don't treat this like a space for extended chatting.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2015

If in the moment you confronted them, and it was clear the one partner forgot, and probably didn't tell the other one anyway (you really made it sound originally that you had conveyed your itinerary to both people together and at the same time...)

Then, yes, it was a complete misunderstanding and you have nothing to be upset about whatsoever.
posted by jbenben at 12:29 PM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Your feelings are your feelings, and you can experience the emotions without having those emotions dictate your actions. No one has gone anywhere yet. You may change your mind and decide to become a rabbi, your friend could get hit by a truck, the world could explode. Why distress yourself about this? It might never happen. If I were you, I'd go right on with my saving and planning and doing whatever, while being open to serendipity. No one has robbed anyone of anything.
If your main anticipated pleasure in going on this trip was the bragging rights after the fact--then I'd suggest taking a hard look at your social circle and how you act in that milieu.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:38 PM on January 13, 2015

I think it's normal to be upset here, both because it sounds like you're kind of on a pilgrimage (albeit a pilgrimage against social anxiety) and because it's discomfiting when people do something personal and specific you were planning to do ("look, now I got a green stripe shaved into my hair too! And a tattoo of a banana slug just like you were saying would be cool") and because they get to go first. It sounds like you have sort of come to the same conclusion.

You know what's KIND of near Samarkand (ten hours driving) and which I desperately want to see and you are allowed to bite my kicks, is the Desert of Forbidden Art in Nukus, Uzbekistan. They made a documentary about it a few years ago, about this crazy museum built at the edge of the Soviet hinterland designed to save art that didn't appeal to the Soviet mindset during the 1930s. So beautiful!

Here's a fantasy itinerary: Samarkand to Nukus, Nukus across the Caspian to Baku, Baku to Tblisi, Tblisi to somewhere in the Rioni region then to Batumi and take a boat to Istanbul, then fly from Istanbul to Rome and eat like twelve pounds of cheese before coming home...
posted by feets at 12:55 PM on January 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Alright, now that we've moved onto the realm of travel planning -

Have a look at Atlas Obscura (disclaimer - I have written for them in the past, although not in the section I'm referring you to, as such). They have a search page where you can input a city, or the kind of thing you're looking for, and you get a clickable map with a selection of weird shit you can visit.

For instance - here's some of the stuff they have near Samarkand, like a park paved with tiles made by kids in Seattle, Washington in 1980 or a funky wishing cave or a possible Tomb of the Prophet Daniel. The world is RICH.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on January 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're not upset about it anymore, so that's good. But since no one else brought this up, I would ask yourself whether there's a pattern in your life where these friends in particular or just people in general don't give you credit for your individuality or ideas. Because if this had happened to me, I would have been pretty pissed too, but if the friend(s) had made a big deal (both to me and to the rest of the group) about how they got this fabulous trip idea from me, and I'm such a good itinerary planner, and they'd never have thought of it alone...well, in that case I'd be a little jealous that they could do the trip first, but it wouldn't be the same thing at all. Maybe Tom really is a total flake who didn't recall where he'd heard all the details for this very specific and complicated plan even when repeating it all to Sue. But maybe he's not. Or maybe his behavior here, the part where your contribution wasn't valued, reminded you of other situations where your ideas and experience were overshadowed.

(Oh and Samarkand? Jealous as hell.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

It is kinda hurtful/surprising when we learn that the people we like/care about are a bit dense about our feelings/situation.

Having been in a similar situation a few times (with travel plans, businesses, study, etc), I wouldn't be surprised if they're people who are quite laid back on the surface but who are secretly quite competitive and insecure. The fact that they got defensive when you pointed out their denseness kind of suggests that.

This does not make them "bad people", but you might want to be wary about how much you share with them.
posted by heyjude at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

You know, it's hard to tell what's really going on here. I had to think hard to figure out where you might be coming from, and I'm not sure the average person would have really arrived at an understanding of your position as you explained it... without your having explained it... and maybe you didn't explain it to them, or it was all a misunderstanding, or...

And, you are convinced these friends are not malicious, so, great! But then, if they did copy you, I have a hard time understanding why they would do so without malice (unless it was to go "surprise! you're coming with us!" at the last minute, which is unfeasible), and also hard to understand what kind of malice would drive someone to stick it to you in that particular way.

The whole situation is so ambiguous, and involves such complex motivations, that I'm not sure we can really understand it from here... but, anyway, next time you're making BIG PLANS like this, keep them to yourself, cuz brilliant ideas may oxidize on contact with the air. Also, have fun devising your new itinerary! Imagine seeing their faces when you tell them it was all a fakeout and actually you have been to Antarctica and the Moon! Ha!
posted by tel3path at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

There are an infinite number of unique trips in the world. You have plenty of time to figure out a new one. Follow them on facebook, learn from their mistakes, and do your own riff on it.

Also, just some travel advice -- don't over-plan your trip. Be willing and ready to take detours and go in random directions with whoever you meet up with on the road. This is especially true when you're traveling by yourself. You're going to meet lots of cool people. Be willing to go on adventures with them, even if it's not what you had originally planned.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2015

It sounds like you've come to a good emotional place with this situation, but I still want to answer the original question. You have a right to be upset in that people always have the right to feel their emotions; there is no such thing as having no right to feel a certain emotion. But your friends did not do anything wrong, and it would be wrong to express your anger to them.

I think my friends have good taste, good ideas, interesting interests. I like to learn from them and get ideas from them-- to me, this is one of the great things about being friends with people-- that I try things that wouldn't have occurred to me alone. If my friends mention wanting to read a certain book or see a certain movie, I often get interested in reading or watching it too. If my friends hear about a great obscure food, I get interested in trying it. I could definitely see myself traveling to a place after hearing that a friend would be traveling there (and yes, I might forget where the initial idea came from).

I wouldn't take the last cookie from the cookie box, but it would never occur to me to view experiences as though they expire after someone else has had them. You view the novelty as important-- okay, I can see where you're coming from, but there's no reason to think your friends share your worldview. They might care more about seeing and experiencing the trip itself.
posted by Henrietta Stackpole at 5:40 PM on January 13, 2015

A big part of the thrill (not the only) was the idea of finding places unexplored by my group of friends and bringing those experiences home to share.

Well, it sounds like you have succeeded at finding places unexplored by your friends and planning an itinerary that will create experiences to talk about. It just won't be you doing the traveling on this one. Even if they don't acknowledge it, maybe you can quietly give yourself credit for giving them the gift of this idea. Even the act of planning the trip is a mark of how far you've come in overcoming the anxiety. And it sounds like that plan came from a font of creativity that is already generating another unique itinerary for your own use along the lines of your original purpose.
posted by salvia at 5:48 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Count me among those who are baffled by the updates you've provided; perhaps it is not just your friends who are a bit confused and forgetful, but you as well? (I say that not to snark, but in all good faith and well-meaningness.)

But to add a further thought here, about why their behavior is despicable in my view. Let's say you were grappling with some anxieties over your own in comparison with your friends' intellectual endeavors, and in an effort to combat these anxieties, you set yourself a strenuous course of self-study, say, to read all the works of Shakespeare over the next year or two. And you shared that plan with your friends, and then a few weeks later one of your "friends" announces that he is beginning to read all the works of Shakespeare.

Now, obviously, you don't own the plan to read all the works of Shakespeare, but damn, that's kind of a shitty thing for your friend to do. Naysayers may pop up and say "well is he FORBIDDEN from reading the works of Shakespeare because cosine announced she was reading them first?" If your friend really wants to read them, he can read them and keep that fact to himself. But seriously, as a matter of manners and social grace, when someone announces a plan to do something unique and important to them, you do NOT then rush out to do it yourself.

I have a (former) friend who would do this constantly. And it was incredibly annoying. He would do it in a way that was a writ-small version of what your friends are doing. Say, if I would let on that I was interested in Edward Dahlberg, who my friend had never heard of, my friend would rush to the library and look at everything Edward Dahlberg had written, read a few of his books, and suddenly he would "own" Edward Dahlberg. It was very clear that my friend was threatened by finding out that I was interested in someone he had not heard of, and had an intensely competitive side that could not countenance me knowing something he didn't know, etc.

I am usually not bothered by someone becoming interested in a thing after another person, close to them, became interested in it first; that's silly. Would we care that Picasso picked up painting after his friend Julio started doing it first? Would we consider Picasso a biter? No, and who cares if he was? But when your trip was so well-planned, and integral to you getting through a tough time as you say it was, etc., it is shitty for your friend to bite it.

And no, I don't believe your friend doesn't remember (assuming you've told us everything accurately). That doesn't make sense to me.
posted by jayder at 7:17 PM on January 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

If it helps, I think of travel as more like books. I want to share and hear about good authors, and bond over discussion of them, or of places I have been, or would like to go.

After their trip, ask them about where they loved best, and where they wished they could have gone/things they could have seen (you often get the best tips from other travellers on the road), see if that rekindles some enthusiasm for all or part of the trip.
posted by Elysum at 2:32 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

OP, I am going to share a kind of embarrassing story of mine. At my wedding, one of my very close friends was coming and I was very excited to see him. We don't get to connect much anymore. I invited him and and his SO. The SO wasn't able to come but, relatively close to the wedding, he told me he was bringing a friend I'd never met as his plus-one.... I was really crushed. I totally felt like he was saying I wasn't cool enough to hang out with by himself, or like my wedding wasn't going to be fun unless he brought a friend. I seriously thought about telling him how hurt I was. After talking it over with a few people, the overwhelming response was "let it go", so I did. And of course, even though my wedding was small, it was so busy that I did just let it go.

My point is that in hindsight, my hurt wasn't about the wedding or the plus-one at all. I was insecure about my friendship and realized I had a kind of deep current and history with worrying that I wasn't "cool enough" for this friend. The wedding and the plus-one was just the carrier for those fears.

I'm telling you this because it strikes me how similar your trip seems. Your trip sounds like the "carrier" for a lot of fears/hopes that you would have a unique experience to bring home and share, and perhaps "join the ranks" of your friends that you see as better traveled, etc.

In other words, maybe it's a little bit about the trip, but I think it's useful to think about what the trip represented to you and how it was maybe going to fulfill some insecurity or fear in you. That's something you can work on in so many ways.

In other other words, to use my story, I ended up being glad I didn't confront my friend, because there couldn't be a real resolution there - because the real confrontation was between me and my feelings, if that makes sense.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:53 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

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