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Knowing our limits: Living with my best friend

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MARCH 13, 2020

“Don’t take 8 a.m. classes.” “Start drinking coffee.” “Don’t live with your best friend.”

When you commit to — and eventually enroll at — a college, you’re going to hear advice from anyone and everyone. Only when you start going to class do you find out what advice was actually warranted and what advice might have been exaggerated.

Although I haven’t taken an 8 a.m. class yet, I did have an 8 a.m. discussion and found that classes that early aren’t for me. I haven’t really started drinking coffee yet — at least not on a regular basis. Despite all of this, I did make the one “mistake” everyone warned me not to.

This year, I decided to live with my best friend Taroob.

Allow me to back up a bit.

I met Taroob in the second grade when we were in the same class. We’re both now 19 and sophomores. With some basic math, that means that we’ve been friends for almost 13 years now.

Taroob and I grew up in practically the same neighborhood. We carpooled to elementary, middle and high school together. We’ve been partnered together for countless projects. Discounting summers, I have seen Taroob nearly every single day since I was six. I don’t remember what life was like before I met her.

Upon first impression, Taroob and I seem like two very, very different people. Initially, she’s quiet, studious, dedicated and hardworking. The more you get to know her, the more you get the pleasure of experiencing her snarky and witty personality. On the other hand, I seem loudmouthed, clumsy, geeky and passionate — all of which are true.

Despite our differences, we’re both headstrong and opinionated introverts who bicker a lot. Last March when we signed up for housing together, the idea of living with Taroob and our other friend Annika seemed like an obvious choice. While living with your best friend sounds like the ultimate situation, I couldn’t help but worry about how our close proximity would impact our friendship.

For context, freshman year, Taroob lived with one of our friends in Blackwell Hall while I was in a Unit 3 triple. I was over there quite often, especially since the new residence hall seemed more appealing to me than Ida Sproul Hall.

This year, we live together in a minisuite in Unit 1, albeit in separate double rooms. I don’t think our friendship would survive it if we actually shared a room.

When you live with someone you’re quite close to, be it your partner or your best friend of more than a decade, it’s likely that you’re already well-acquainted with each other’s habits and lifestyle. You probably have some pet peeves of your — in this case — best friend’s behavior. Overall, you both get along well with the exception of a few moments or incidents.

Well, when you live with your best friend, your proximity will amplify everything. A pet peeve could actually make or break what was supposed to be a fun plan. You could fall into an argument over trivial issues that you’ve never considered to be problems before. I’ve heard horror stories of friendships and relationships dying out or breaking up over living situations. Seeing your best friend 24/7 could drive the charm and joy out of your relationship.

Take Taroob and me for example.

Throughout our friendship, one of my biggest pet peeves has been Taroob’s relaxed approach to … well, mostly everything. Despite how studious and structured Taroob is when it comes to her work, she plays fast and loose with the rules of time. When we have plans on the weekend, she will get up at the time we had decided to leave. Whereas I like to leave 10 minutes early for everything, Taroob will leave as late as humanly possible — she’s late to practically everything.

This last bit has resulted in, as our friend Annika claims, several screaming arguments and being stressed out to the point where I’m either shaking or annoyed enough to leave without Taroob.

In return, Taroob gets irritated by my stubborn and childish behavior. I’m always barging into her room without knocking, trying to get the last word in an argument or insisting on getting my way. Sometimes, I pettily ignore her for hours.

Then there’s the issue of privacy.

When you decide to live with your best friend, you will get to know them in a way you haven’t before. You will learn more details and secrets about your best friend than you will think possible. I certainly did, and I thought I knew Taroob inside out given we’ve known each other for over a decade.

But where do you draw the line? When do you determine what’s yours, what’s theirs and what’s yours together? What are you entitled to know about your best friend after all these years and when does it become an invasion of privacy?

Navigating these questions can easily become confusing — and potentially toxic — for both friends if you don’t set your boundaries.

Since Taroob and I grew up in the Bay Area, we’re lucky enough to be able to go home and get away from each other for a weekend and just breathe. For students who don’t have that option, however, being in such close proximity with their best friend could gradually wear away at their friendship.

If this ever happens, it’s time to decide what you value more: your friendship or your housing situation — then try to salvage what you can.

Hopefully, Taroob and I will never come to this point. Despite the stress, strain and frustration we put on each other and our friendship, we’ve never driven each other to our breaking points. I don’t even think we can any more, especially with a decade-long friendship under our belts and several decades more to go.

Know your limits when it comes to you and your best friend. If you can survive living together, you may be able to survive anything. With that being said, know that no matter where you live or who you live with, at the end of the day, you’d rather have your best friend by your side — metaphorically or physically.

Contact Tarunika Kapoor at [email protected].

MARCH 13, 2020