I thought I had it all sorted out; I would live with my friends, we would have a blast at university together, and nothing could possibly go wrong. I was wrong. People are not the same when you have to share the same space for extended periods of time.
Living with friends can seem like a really fun idea, probably one that you’ve been planning with them for a long time. However, it’s not always pretty. You never really know the habits of your friends as you have never had to experience what they’re like at home for a long time.
I’ve had multiple experiences with living with friends after I moved out for university. You want to be comfortable with the people you’re living with and the easiest way to do that is to live with someone you know. However, it all changes when you’re in the same space. You start to notice a lot more problems that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t sharing the same space.
In my first year of university, I lived in university halls and had made friends with my flatmates prior to meeting them. They were a great bunch of people, extremely friendly, sociable and accommodating. As I stayed in that space more I started to realise that they were quite messy, loud and quite dramatic. I tried to keep to my own space but they constantly pushed boundaries and invaded that space. I eventually ended up cutting ties with all those people that I initially lived with as I could not get along with them at all. From there I realised something important - we don’t have the same upbringing.
The type of habits and characters that they have in their living space was greatly influenced by the way they were brought up. What would be normal to me would not have necessarily been normal to them, so really I didn’t need to take everything personally. However, it was affecting my mental health and comfort so I need to find people who would respect the boundaries I had and I would do the same for them.
One of the first steps to living with friends is having boundaries and also respecting their own. There may be things that you’ll let slide but remember you’re living together and it is a shared space at the end of the day. Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean you should feel uncomfortable in your home. If you are upset one day they should either know how to navigate that or respect that you might just want your own space. I am lucky enough to live with people who respect that I have off days and we can communicate that with each other so that we don’t offend one another.
Another tip is to prepare yourself for uncomfortable conversations. These types of difficult conversations and conflicts usually arise in friendship when having to share the same space. You begin to see another side of them that you might not have had a chance to explore when you weren’t living together. It’s okay to have these conversations and you don’t always have to agree. In fact, it makes your friendship stronger because you’re understanding your differences better.
Living with friends always sounds like the better option than living with strangers. In most cases it is. However, the fear of losing a good friendship can hold you back from making that decision in case you can’t live comfortably with them. It’s understandable to have these fears, but always recognise that in most friendships, you’re in there because you value this person and they value you. Therefore differences you may face can be overcome.
I have recently lost my best friend.
It was something I cried about for an entire night, but something that I woke up the next morning and realized was necessary.
As tough as it is to lose your friend, sometimes it’s what’s needed. We hadn’t grown apart, but I had changed, and my friend had stayed the same. Sometimes this happens, and it doesn’t make someone bad or good, it just means that the relationship has changed.
Sometimes we feel that we need a good reason to leave a relationship. Whether that be because it is abusive, toxic, due to hatred or dislike, and many other negative things--but we don’t need a reason like that. Sometimes you lose a relationship because you’ve grown apart, or you’ve grown out of it. Sometimes we change--for the better at that--and the relationship just doesn’t help you anymore. Maybe it actually hurts you because you argue more or disagree more, and many other things. Sometimes it is better to let go.
This can be painful, and that’s okay. This can be freeing, and that’s okay. Whatever you feel is valid and real. So remember that you’re doing your best and that your best is enough.
Keep your head up, the sun still rises!
There. You did it. You’ve come out to your parents. You’ve said those magic words. Light or dark magic, it could go either way. You wait anxiously for the infinite yet instantaneous reaction your parents are bound to have. We might expect our parents and loved ones to react to extremes. They are either supportive and accepting, or they could make coming out seem like the biggest mistake of your life. I think that a lot of us think that there is no in-between because of the portrayal ‘coming out’ has on the media. But what if your loved ones’ reactions are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum? Neither completely accepting nor distraught. It can still sting to be in a situation like this. What do you do? Is there a way out of this?
I came out on a whim a few months ago. I was in the middle of one of my routinely ‘let’s complain about everything’ sessions with one of my friends, and I randomly wanted to come out to my mom. We were probably talking about how trapped we felt at home and how suffocating it felt to be in quarantine, which is what probably catalyzed my urge to come out. I knew that if I was going to come out to someone, it was going to be my mom. She and I are close and she’s not as religious as the rest of my family, so I knew that my only chance of being accepted by a family member was by my mom. So I left my friend waiting on facetime and approached my mom. Here’s a very brief summary of the conversation:
Me: Uhh, I’ve got something to tell you
Mom : *looks away from the TV and stares at me*
Me: I…... like girls
Mom: *stares harder*
My Brain: ohmygodohmygodohgod what did you do you are an idiot why in the world would you even you’ve made the dumbest move in the entire universe ahhhhHHHHHHHHhh
Me: Yeah, it’s been on my mind for a long time.
Mom: I don’t know what to say; ignore it. It’s just a phase.
*end of conversation*
Ignore it. That was basically what my mother said. And then we both proceeded to act as nothing had happened. I was expecting a recreation of what I’d seen on TikTok. Happy hugs, relief, and joyful tears or the exact opposite. I wasn’t expecting to be left in the middle. It really stung to find out that my mom (and therefore the rest of my family) didn’t accept me. I never got my ‘I love you for who you are and everything will be fine’ hug. She told me that I should ignore any feelings about girls and just focus on school, and down the line I’d probably end up with a boy. I felt empty. Like I wasn’t a part of my family anymore. But I wasn’t abused or kicked out, and it could’ve been worse, but it still did hurt a lot.
Because of this turn of events, I’m in a position where I’m out to my parents, but my parents pretend it never happened. So I basically had to walk and sit back down in my closet. My foot was stuck at the door. I thought that coming out to my family would be liberating. I wanted to be myself at home, which was important at the time because of quarantine. I wanted to cut my hair really short and give in to my masculine side a bit more. I wanted to talk about the women I thought were gorgeous and not the men that should be on my mind. But I couldn’t. I still wanted to celebrate though. Coming out felt like a milestone to me and I wanted to treat myself. I wanted to buy myself a pride flag, get some pride apparel, or even just paint a little rainbow in my room. But each idea was shot down by my parents and I couldn’t do anything about it.
I only made it out because of my friends. They listened to me whenever I needed them. They were the ones that kept reminding me that I was perfect and they never let me forget that they accepted me. I’m eternally grateful for them. They even offered to smuggle me a pride flag. But I’m no trained secret agent, so I obviously had to reject the offer.
Even after it being months since I’ve come out, at times I get frustrated and wound up because I can’t openly be queer. However, I’ve done a few things that have helped me feel less suffocated. Here are a few things you could try:
If you can’t turn your loved ones around, make sure you have a support team. This could be a group of friends, a school counselor or a public forum (make sure to not give out personal information on public forums). Anytime negative emotions start to crowd your mind, let them out as soon as possible. You can always leave an anonymous message right here, on the TWE website, and I can assure you that we’ll get back to you to help.
I want you to remember that no matter how good or bad your coming out experience was, it takes a truckload of courage and confidence to do it, and I am so proud of you and my respect for you runs deep. Always know that if things aren’t the brightest right now, life is always changing and you will soon find a place in this world that is built for you, cares for you and loves you for who you are.
Your true colors will always shine through in the end, and they are beautiful.
If you need someone to talk to :
Have you ever looked around you at your "friends", family members or celebrities and felt like you were being left behind? As if they were all achieving so many goals that you start to wonder: "Hey, when is it going to be my turn? Or better yet, will this ever happen to me too?"
I suffered through this complex for a better part of my junior and senior year of high school when I realized a lot of my friends got into Ivy League schools all the way in the US, or that they were taking a gap year to work. It seemed as if everyone was finally going to experience their college dreams abroad while I was in Tanzania, with barely having anything figured out.
I had fear and anxiety growing inside me every day because of this. Maybe it was because I was so used to having things planned out for me instead.
I had, and if I am being honest, still have these overwhelming thoughts that I’m probably going to just be another extra or another background character to all of my friends' stories. All of this stemmed just from seeing a few of my friends already looking successful. Some had become small but growing influencers on social media, another had started a YouTube channel, and the girl I sat next to in class had started an online business that is taking off. As proud as I am of them, I just couldn’t help but feed the hungry thought that maybe I'd never be as impressive as they were.
Like where was my shining moment? When will it happen to me? This ate me up to the point where even posting something on Instagram became hard for me and I always hit the discard button. That annoying and degrading voice in my head would taunt me and remind me of how anything I do would ever be good enough. There were so many people out there with better content than me, so why even try?
Fast forward to a few months later, I finally understood that I had a comparison complex. I constantly used to compare every single detail about my social life with people I idolized even my closest friends. I understand they would never rub it in my face to taunt me but the insecurity that I was being left behind became an obsession.
So what I did was that I decided to spend less time on the apps that I believed just added salt to the wound such as Instagram. I went from spending half my day on there to just mainly opening it at night. With Snapchat, I stopped doing streaks which ultimately led to me rarely opening it to check out peoples' stories. This small action helped immensely in building my self confidence.
If I wasn’t seeing the things that triggered me negatively, like a classmate posting their new college jersey, I wouldn't compare myself to them as much. I also reduced talking to some of the friends that brought out these insecurities in me. Not out of hate or envy, but I needed to focus more myself. To build the person I wanted to turn into rather than compare my current state to the picture of my best friend in Australia.
Just to be clear, I celebrate my friends' accomplishments but putting distance between them and me was my way of learning how to celebrate myself instead.
Now I know that a comparison complex can be triggered by other things, which might not necessarily be the need to be successful like mine was; but here’s a few tips I hope will help you through this phase the same way they helped me:
Now I want to end with this quote; “ You’re so busy doubting yourself, while others are intimidated by your potential”. This quote reminded me daily that the way I was thinking about how all my classmates were moving forward was the same way that some of them might view me. Someone could be looking up to you and you wouldn’t even know it! I hope this helped you. I want you to know that It will get better. It will take time but it will. Try channelling that obsession with comparing yourself with others to comparing yourself with who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow.
Fighting could be over anything; a meet up gone wrong to losing something valuable. Sometimes it could be about feeling neglected by the other, or feeling misunderstood. Whatever the reason, fights happen. As toxic as it may sound, disagreements are inevitable. It's because we all constantly grow mentally and sometimes you don't always have to agree with what the other person does because it doesn't align with who you are anymore.
Fights tend to end up with someone leaving with their feelings hurt, regretful of what they may or may not have said, and sometimes and as much as we dont want to admit it; fights might bring an end to a friendship you thought would last forever...that's what hurts the most.
A fight recently happened between me and a close friend of mine. We had a fight about something I had said, which to be honest it was an insensitive comment on religion, I later realized and the aftermath of that comment resulted in her cutting me off, completely, and I felt terrible. Especially when it wouldn’t matter what i’d try to say to her, she just wouldn't respond to me, and some of the things she said made me feel like complete rubbish, this went on for days.
Overthinking about how I should have directed the conversation so it wouldn’t turn out the way it did, to regret over what i said, then eventually the anger set in; she could cut me off that easily? Like our friendship was really that disposable to her?
It wasn't until days later when I asked her about it that I found out it wasn’t even the real problem. She was mad and cut me off because she felt like I was making fun of her over something she was explaining to me before and my religious comment was kind of the tip of the iceberg for her, which was why it made her cut me off in the first place.
Point is, I would have never even known she felt that way if I didn’t tell her how she made me feel. And even though we made up now, there's things I wish I did that could have helped avoid the swarm of emotions the aftermath of that fight had on me, and I made a few suggestions on what to do after having a fight with someone you care about, both for you and for the other person.
For me I thought I was angry at my friend for just cutting me off and making me feel irritated at the fact that if i said something to try and solve it, she wouldn't listen to me. But as the days went on with us not talking, I realised that I was more angry at the thought that she could get rid of me that easily and the thought that maybe she didn't value this friendship the same way I did.
And with a lot more thinking, I realised that I felt this way because of an insecurity I have. Well, we all have insecurities, fact, but for me it’s more to do with the thought that I wasn’t good enough of a person to be around, that I wasn’t as interesting as other people were.
Also, even after doing all of this, it's good to keep in mind that, as sad as it may be, not all friendships last forever. A lot of the time people outgrow each other, you both stopped liking the same things and maybe the other person doesn’t align with who you're becoming anymore ( hopefully for the better)/ So I would say don’t beat yourself up about it, it hurts but maybe it's for the better. Theres alot of toxic people out there, and if this fight showed who you were dealing with the whole time.
Think of it this way, the friendship you just lost shows you the kind of people you might not want in your life in the future. Whatever happens remember to be kind to yourself; even if you're in the wrong or right. Cause your friend(s) might leave, but you’ll always have you.
COVID-19 has affected everyone in many different ways and has essentially changed all of our lives. Throughout this time, I learned a lot about my friends and our relationships. I became extremely close with some friends, lost and drifted from some friends, and also learned how toxic some people were.
In school, I had a close group of friends, which included me and three other girls, but I also had an extended group of friends which probably ranged between 15 and 20 people, as well as others. During school, I was with these people every day and it was really easy to communicate and stay in touch. However, this changed when we went into lockdown in March of 2020. I felt extremely isolated and was not able to see anyone for two months. I kept in touch with my close group of friends and a couple of other friends during COVID, however, I also drifted with many of my friends. I realized who my true friends were. Furthermore, I became aware of the effort I was putting into many relationships that weren't being reciprocated. Through this time I was able to realize how much effort friendships really took, and I also realized how valuable my closest friends are.
Unfortunately, I did have some toxic friends through this time that were not treating me or some of my other friends right. Toxic people, in general, are tricky to deal with, but my advice for them is to talk to them, tell them how you feel, and what you feel they could do to make you feel better and more comfortable. Then, give them a chance to change, but if you realize they continue to be toxic, cut your losses. There is no need for anyone to be involved with people who bring you down or treat you badly. You deserve the best!