10 Feb Personal Space is just a social construct
Personal space – noun – the physical space immediately surrounding someone, into which encroachment can feel threatening or uncomfortable.
Personal space is one of the most desired entities in undergrad that is often desperately needed, yet sought after in vain. Living in small brick houses of four to six people often makes personal space nearly impossible. The only solace undergrad students have is the comfort of their room. Yet, this last semester, I shared the only escape I had from social realities with my best friend.
Yes, I shared a room for an entire semester. Now, I know many of you who lived in doubles and had a roommate in first year are probably not impressed. So, I’ll one-up you once more.
Not only did I share a room last semester, I shared a bed.
Yes. You heard me right! I shared one comfy double bed, a single closet and a small little room with my best friend. Personal space for the two of us was at an all-time low.
I traded the limited amount of personal space that undergrad students have, in exchange for sharing nearly every waking moment with my best friend. But, you know what? I don’t regret it for a minute.
What I lost out on alone time, I gained in solidifying one of my healthiest, funniest, strongest, and deepest friendships that I have ever had. A friendship that is close to my heart and is most definitely life-long.
People often asked us how we did it and we joke “Personal space is just a social construct.” Although it is usually a much needed social construct, as the months went on I learned that sometimes a little less space forces a lot more authenticity.
There’s something extremely intimate about waking up with someone in the morning and going to sleep with them at night. You see someone for exactly who they are, and there is little space for secrets. Yet, with a lack of space came honesty, transparency and the breaking down of internal walls that neither of knew were there. I felt like I could be myself in the truest form with her.
I find it easy to let people in but only to a certain extent. Letting someone see all of me and know everything about me is something I struggle with. For me, it’s easiest to hold people at a bit at an arm’s length. My most emotional memories and deepest secrets are things I hold onto tightly and don’t tell lightly. Of course, I have extremely close friends that know a lot about me, but there are some parts of my story that I usually keep for myself. However, my lack of personal space last semester forced me to change this.
It’s interesting how this lack of physical space, translated into psychological space. With our lack of physical space, it was hard to hold my friend at an arm’s length emotionally. Sharing a room makes concealing emotions tediously difficult.
If I was having a bad day, it was obvious. I couldn’t hide behind phrases such as, “I’m okay,” or “I’m just tired.” If something was on my mind, I couldn’t lie and say it was “fine.” I had to be an honest and pure form of myself at all times because in such close quarters staying candid with each other was the only thing that kept us sane.
As the semester went on I learned to love and cherish this insane lack of privacy. In fact, I realized that in a lot of ways I needed it. Staying honest with my friend forced me to stay accountable and aware of my own emotions. I began to talk things out and work through problems as they arose instead of bottling them up for later. I openly cried when I needed to and asked for help when I couldn’t face things on my own. I took so many leaps in life and grew in countless ways. I never would have experienced this personal growth if I didn’t know I had someone to catch me if I fell.
It’s the week of Valentine’s Day and the idea of “soulmates” is a trending topic. People spend years searching for their soulmate in pubs, classrooms, workplaces and even apps. They date person to person trying to find their other half and someone who will accept them for exactly who they are. They go on hundreds of first dates trying to find compatibility and a person to adventure with, laugh with and experience life with.
On the week of Valentine’s Day, people celebrate those they love, and so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I found a soulmate in my best friend. I found a person to do life with. Someone who I can tell anything and everything. A person who doesn’t judge me and always accepts me on my worst days and celebrates me on my best. I found someone who doesn’t want me to fit into any mould but instead wants me to be exactly who I am.
The extremely close quarters that usually turn people against each other, only made us closer. Instead of ripping us apart it made our bond unbreakable. It strengthened our friendship in ways that I never could have imagined and taught me that there are certain people you can never get tired of.
Essentially, I traded personal space for a soulmate and was it ever worth it. I have a genuine friendship, that is the type of relationship and the other half that people dream of.
So this is a tribute to my best friend and our memorable semester together in our double bed on Albert Street. May we hold each other up when we’re weak and challenge each other to be our best selves. May we continue to watch romantic comedies in bed together, even when we each have our own rooms. May we cry on each other’s shoulders and remember that being strong sometimes means showing vulnerability.
May we stay close, even when we have personal space.