The Friendship Project: Reaching the limit

Varsha Venkat

Bloggers Ashmita Chakraborty and Varsha Venkat take a look at the problems that arise when math class pits two best friends against each other.

[col type=”1_2″ class=”box_blue”]Varsha has been my best friend for nine years. Nine whole years. No periods of “oops-I-have-too-many-other-friends-to-have-time-for-you,” no lapses in friendship just because of a fight. Secretly though, the very thought of her makes me want to tear my hair out. How can a human being be so right –– all the time? My parents tell me to consider her a role model rather than a friend. They don’t know her weird side.[/col]

[col type=”1_2″ class=”box_green”]Ashmita is probably the weirdest person I know — borderline insane, really. She is the master of selfies and creeper faces, and she sure loves to act like a cat. But somewhere deep down, she’s one of the most sensible and reliable people I know. Whenever I need someone to talk to, she’s there. And if I ever need any cheering up, she’s there with her repertoire of derp faces. It’s undeniable that she is crazy, but who said there’s anything wrong with that?[/col]

 

Having known each other for this long, you would think there was nothing more for us to know about each other, but it turns out that nine years just isn’t enough. Talk about the tip of the iceberg. That’s why we decided to take time this year to test our friendship and look back at how our individual quirks built the foundation for such a strong friendship.

Lesson One: kick competition to the curb.

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The Friendship ProjectMany of us feel a secret sense of competitiveness towards one of our friends. Of course, both of us are extremely competitive individually, but we never imagined that we would have to be competing with one another. And even if this possibility crossed our minds, it never occurred to us that standing head-to-head with your best friend would be this great of a challenge.

Now we’d both been competitive singers and even participated in the same competition once, but we were in different categories and didn’t really bother about the end results (well, at least not too much). We even went to the same dance teacher for some time, and again, the sense of competition was pretty vague. All our past experiences considered, we didn’t have any reason to believe that things would change in high school.

Then Pre-Calculus happened.

Now let’s be honest, when you put two highly competitive best friends in a highly competitive class, the results are bound to be ugly. Add to the mix a number of other students who try to sabotage you in an attempt to get the highest test score, and the result is mass chaos.

We started off pretty well, helping each other in times of need and all that. But it wasn’t long before things started getting tense. Ever helped a friend who ended up scoring higher than you? That’s basically what happened to us.

[toggle_content title=”Ashmita’s Take” class=”box_blue”]It was just another one of those night-before-the-test cram sessions during which we were on the phone for hours, discussing a single math problem that drove us both up the wall. It was me who finally came up with the solution. (I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming!). It was the first time in my life that I knew something that Varsha didn’t. I was so sure that I was going to have her beat on this test … I had this chapter under my belt! Well, surprise, surprise. Varsha was the top scorer in the class. There’s a saying that when your friend does poorly, you feel bad for them, but if they do better than you, you feel even worse. Let me tell you: it’s true.[/toggle_content]

[toggle_content title=”Varsha’s Take” class=”box_green”]Before I get to my side of the story, let me get something cleared up: I hate vectors. With a passion. The night before the test I was freaking out, spending hours on the phone with my friends going over problems from the practice tests, and as usual I failed to understand something which made up the foundation of the entire chapter. Ashmita helped me with a problem — which, of course, cleared things up greatly — but I was still iffy with solving problems on my own. I had a brilliant stroke of luck when I scored well on the test. But for some reason Ashmita and several other people in the class, who shall go unnamed, assumed that this fortuitous success was an indication of a guaranteed good score on future assessments. So before future tests, Ashmita refused to accept my complaints — even when, in the end, I practically bombed them.[/toggle_content]

Our little math class-competition almost became a pretty major cause of tension, something which we saw reflected in other close-knit friend groups in the class. It even spread outside of fourth period Pre-Calculus, with friends from different classes keeping a watchful eye on each other.

While we never got completely rid of the competitiveness between us, after some time we decided to adopt a policy of ignorance: “out of sight (and ear), out of mind.” We figured that if we didn’t talk too much about math, we wouldn’t have to deal with the little disputes. Now that’s not to say that we didn’t talk about math at all, but it sure helped that we didn’t keep comparing our grades and stressing out.

Looking back at the experience, the fierce competition and hidden jealousy that we faced was crazy (although it didn’t seem so at the time). While math definitely wasn’t the most ideal of circumstances for two best friends, it taught us a lot about friendship and working to make sure nothing gets in its way.

And if anything, we can tell you this: If you ever happen to be in the same class as your best friend, make sure you throw competition in the trash and kick it to the curb. After all, you only stay in a class for a year, but you stay friends for a lifetime.