I hate making new friends. It is awkward, and stressful, and involves “putting yourself out there” and “taking risks,” two of my all-time least favorite activities. Also, like most things I hate, I am bad at it.
Which is why after my freshman year of college, I decided to leave a place where I was comfortable and had friends and knew people and was so close to home I could go home any weekend. It makes complete sense that I would abandon that for a city six to eight hours away where I knew no one and would be living with total strangers.
Especially considering the fact that I handled my first new-college experience very well. (Narrator: She did not handle it well.)
It wasn’t an easy decision to leave my last college, but I knew it was the right one for me. There were things about being there that I really loved: I had managed, against the odds, to form a close, tight-knit circle of friends (many of whom I’m still in touch with to this day); I built connections with my professors; I was getting good grades. But in the end, it was too comfortable, too close to home. I felt like I was wasting my college experience.
The process led to a fun equation that made for me feeling unending anxiety for weeks and weeping in the dining section of Cheers, the real-life bar that inspired the television program Cheers. (Cheers to that, am I right?)
But soon, I felt way more at home than I had ever felt at my last college. Part of it was how quickly I fell in love with Boston, and part of it definitely had to do with feeling more interested in my classes than I had in a long time. Most of it, though, was because of my roommates.
I didn’t realize I was transferring to Emerson until April or May of 2017, and I didn’t realize Emerson was absolutely full-on not going to give me housing until a couple of months after that. As everyone knows, the best way to look for real estate is doing so desperately in an excessively short time frame with strangers from a distance.
Another not at all anxiety-inducing situation.
Luckily, countless other people had been ruthlessly screwed over by Emerson housing, and I was able to find a surplus of people equally desperate as I was. After a few brushes with failure (including one girl who informed me in detail of her search for an apartment, only to tell me she had zero intention of rooming with me once I expressed interest in one – I WILL NEVER FORGET), I received an email.
This email was clearly from a total weirdo, but I ignored that fact due to the clear beggars-can’t-be-choosers situation in which I found myself. This weirdo had already found one other person. Within weeks, the three of us were remotely signing a contract for a Beacon Hill apartment, on the sole basis of a video tour filmed by our brightly-colored-polo-shirt-clad broker.
The strangeness of this situation didn’t lessen my anxiety until I made it to Boston. The very first night, the three of us stayed up until three o’clock in the morning just talking, which became a debilitating habit. My first year in Boston was filled with late-night walks on trash night, foraging for apartment decor; “adventures” to explore the city, which mostly meant going to Target; and journeys to every park, waterfront, and festival in walking distance. It was amazing, and I felt at home right away.
One of my roommates graduated last year, but my other roommate and I still live together, and she’s still my best friend here. There are some negatives that come of that. The shielding I felt from the pressure to make friends was a plus at first, but it’s also had its downsides. Without that pressure, I felt fine not putting myself out there – and I still mostly do. And when you’re best friends with your roommate, you can find yourself on different pages: some nights, I just want to keep to myself while my roommate is feeling chatty, and vice versa. For some people, it can cause extra friction when there are disagreements or responsibilities like bills, though my roommate is a clear communicator, which rescues us from any arguing that my nonconfrontational nature threatens to cause.
Ultimately, though – and I can’t believe I’m about to type these unbearably cheesy words – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My roommate is more like a sister than a friend, and living with someone who I know I can always talk to, and who would do anything for me as I’d do anything for her, is a wonderful thing.
I don’t know what the universe was on when it allowed me to meet some of my favorite people I’ve ever met through the hell that is the Emerson Off-Campus Housing platform, but I’m sure glad it did.
Otherwise, I’d probably still be weeping amidst the tourists in Cheers.