I met Emma, my best friend of nearly six years, while she was oversharing the details of her first boyfriend at a high school musical practice. I was too shy to keep a conversation, but we instantly connected and formed a deep friendship. She’s confident, bubbly and outgoing — the kind of friend I needed as an introvert who recently moved to a new high school. Although our personalities seemed opposite on the surface, as Emma opened up to me, I realized how similar we were.
Through surviving the nightmares of high school — toxic relationships, body image issues and beginner makeup routines — we became sisters. With Emma, I’m free to scream-sing my favorite emo songs and ugly cry to YouTube edits of our favorite shows because I know she’ll be with me no matter how cringe-worthy I can be.
Living with Emma led to an era of significant personal growth for me. In the past year, my confidence, identity and comfort zone have evolved because of my best friend and roommate’s endless love and support.
When we both independently decided on attending Temple University, horror stories on social media about best friends becoming enemies while living together made us nervous. Nevertheless, the comfort of having a friend nearby while away from home led to us moving into an apartment for our first in-person school year.
Fears of our friendship being destroyed quickly faded as we realized our established boundaries and mutual respect made us the perfect roommates. Our relationship was too healthy to develop the resentment many roommates end up experiencing.
If we had issues with each other’s ideas of cleanliness and organization, we communicated and found solutions, like making sure to pick up after ourselves when leaving a shared space. Our open discussions allowed me to feel more comfortable advocating for myself, like when I asked a potential employer to increase my pay because I knew my value as an employee.
Maintaining an open line of communication during conflict has brought Emma and me closer together, allowing us to better enjoy our time together. We’ve spent endless nights baking cookies and topping them with ice cream, Nutella and chocolate chips, while binge-watching teen dramas.
During these nights, Emma has listened to me rant about everything, even the most insignificant issues, like when cutting my own bangs inevitably went wrong. She always helps me get to the root of my problems by providing a new perspective.
For example, my major was undeclared for my first three semesters at Temple because I was conflicted about what to pursue. Emma helped me choose journalism with environmental studies — topics I have always been interested in — instead of my original plans to major in a STEM field. She encouraged me to embrace my passions even when I felt more comfortable studying analytical math and sciences.
Emma also encouraged me to try new things last fall, including convincing me to take a “beginner” ballet class with her at a professional dance studio. It turned out “beginner” wasn’t the introductory course but the third level, and the two of us scrambled to follow along, lacking any grace.
“Why are we moving so fast?” Emma whispered to me in the back of the studio.
“We’re doing great,” I lied. “It can’t get much harder at this point anyway, right?”
“Let’s run this combination double time!” announced the instructor.
Now, we reflect on that dance class and fall into laughter at our uncoordinated moves, but the experience helped me take embarrassment less seriously and feel more confident when trying new things. If I walked unprepared into a professional ballet class — which I would’ve never done without Emma’s influence — I can do anything.
We joined Temple’s philosophy club and protested for fossil fuel divestment on campus. Emma joined a research project and became the deputy chief of staff of Temple Student Government, and I started working as an editor and a content writing intern.
Now, we’re taking on a new project together: a women’s club. Emma came up with the idea, and asked me to be a part of it, because she noticed Temple lacked a women’s center and a sense of community as we struggled to make friends on campus when in-person learning resumed in the 2021-2022 academic year.
The club will host open conversations, provide resources for professional development and bring girls together for fun group activities that would create new friendships.
Watching Emma excel in her courses, take on new opportunities and pursue her passions in political advocacy and creative expression inspires me to do the same. When we live together, we motivate each other to be our best selves.
Emma is my sister, my soulmate and my best friend. With her, I have grown from reserved and hesitant into a self-confident individual pursuing my goals. We moved into our new apartment on Aug. 1 and I expect we’ll help each other grow into even more amazing, motivated women.