September 17th is National Women’s Friendship Day.
I spent three years of college living with five other women in a house off campus. Laughs, tears, breakups, drinking games, Jane The Virgin marathons, dinner parties — anything and everything went down in that house. We dubbed it “The Duchess.” As a customary rite of passage for any student moving off campus, your house had to have a name that fit its residents and personality.
On paper, my roommates and I were all pretty different. As a group, our majors included journalism, film production, dance, public relations, peace studies, theater, and math (some girls had double majors). Our involvement on campus was just as varied: dance troupes, Greek life, a cappella, the school newspaper, the Career Development Center.
This meant that at all the different campus events we participated in, we always had cheerleaders. When a few of my roommates sang and danced at “Midnight Breakfast” every semester (a finals week tradition on campus), the rest of us were there to scream as loud as possible and record countless Snapchat videos. When I desperately needed survey responses for an article I was writing, my roommates spread the link on social media.
We took care of each other, always.
The running joke was saying “proud mom!” every time someone accomplished something awesome — a callback for an audition, an internship, a modeling gig, a date with a cute person.
There was never any competition, which was refreshing.
As a kid and a teenager, I was bullied by the same group of girls. They tried to tear others (but mostly me) down just for sport. It was exhausting and stunted my self-acceptance. It’s one of the many reasons why our shared home was so special to me.
I spent the majority of my teen years thinking I would never be good enough. My college roommates made me feel the exact opposite.
They reminded me that I already was good enough; I already was smart enough. When I was frustrated because I didn’t get an internship or because my professor was being a jerk, I’d get a pep talk over a cup of tea. It always made me feel better. More often than not, a few of us simultaneously converging in the kitchen to get snacks would turn into a three-hour venting session.
These were people who would give me their honest opinions, like my mom would, instead of just telling me what I wanted to hear. When I was hung up on a guy who was sending me mixed signals, my roommates were not afraid to tell me I could do better. They told me to know my worth.
I navigated coming out as bisexual with the help of my other queer roommate, who had already been through what I was experiencing.
I would have walked through fire for these girls.
If a roommate was going through a breakup, I listened until she talked in circles. I brought over her favorite food. I happily provided rides and did them favors. No matter what they asked, I did it. Because they would have done it for me.
Coming home — whether from a long day of studying in the library or celebrating Thanksgiving with my family — always made me feel like I was where I was supposed to be. These women were my rocks and my support system.
Because of them, I never felt alone for three years.
It wasn’t perfect, obviously.
We had six women in one house. Things could get stressful. Sometimes people wouldn’t do their chores or we struggled to get all six of us in the same room for a house meeting. It could get frustrating.
Living with someone means seeing all their flaws, irrationality, and low moments. We all had our share. But at the end of the day, we also knew how much we loved each other.
Being surrounded by the different personalities of five other women helped me evolve.
I started my freshman year feeling like a timid kid. I graduated as a strong, confident woman. Living with my roommates helped me develop in ways I never could have imagined when I entered college. My roommates taught me how to be an intersectional feminist, a more well-rounded human being, a more assertive adult.
I had a rare and precious college roommate experience. I am so lucky to have a second family in these women. I am so lucky to be a simple text away from them as I navigate the next stage of my life.