A roommate, a friend

I’m convinced that roommates know you more than your parents do in college. Because, yes, you can compartmentalize your days into little polished, digestible summaries for your mother every night but she won’t see the panic you wore the night before or how you stayed up all night, tossing and turning in your bed, drowning in cold sweat. Or how your under-eyes are just a bit darker, a bit baggier; your hands a bit more jittery. Or even how you experienced your first panic attack that required a hospitalization days before your JP was due. Your mother won’t ever see that.

My roommate has seen all this and more. She has seen the good — loved the good — and she has witnessed the bad, accepting me in my entirety. The worst and most unbearable sides of me. The I-haven’t-slept-in-three-days-and-can-barely-function kind of bad. She’s had to shove a Snickers bar down my throat in the gym locker room because I had passed out from not eating properly; not because I was starving myself, but because I was simply so anxious and stress-ridden that I had lost my appetite. She can contextualize my pain, tracing every wound back to the past three years of my life, to the countless boys that have stepped in only to walk away, to the students who have questioned my intellectual capacity as a minority. She can decipher the emotions I blanket with ultimate stealth simply because she’s there in my room. Wholeheartedly present. Every single day. I can’t deceive her, no matter how hard I try.

How bizarre is that? Living with someone who knows you possibly more than you know yourself? What makes you tick, laugh, anxious, giddy with excitement. All the internships you applied to and got rejected from. The comments from professors you’ve taken to heart. It makes me feel vulnerable and ashamedly predictable. But it also makes me feel deeply and unconditionally loved in ways that superficial friendships never could. What a beautiful thing true friendship is when it’s selfless, constructive and contoured by an emotional depth that erodes all barriers, leaving our most authentic selves in the wake of it all. What a blessing it is, Emily, this elemental bond we share.

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