While most siblings of the opposite sex may argue constantly if they are put in close proximity for too long, my younger brother and I actually found ways to bond.
For all 19 years of my life, I never once had the pleasure of having my own room.
My 15-year-old brother has been my roommate ever since he was born. Even when we travelled overseas and stayed in hotels, my parents had us sharing a room.
Surprisingly, being in close proximity with each other most of the time did not put a strain on our relationship. Although we both would complain about not having our own privacy as we grew older, I realised there were some perks that came with sharing a room with my brother.
As a child with many irrational fears, such as that weird looming shadow that I could not process was just my pile of clothes, it was rather comforting knowing that I was not alone in the dark
This meant that if there was indeed a monster, I could sacrifice my brother first and have more time to escape.
Jokes aside, on nights where I would wake up from nightmares terrorising my sleep, all I had to do was turn to the side. Seeing my brother soundly asleep and hearing his soft snores felt comforting and I would be lulled back into sleep, knowing that I would be fine.
The earliest memory I can recall involving sharing a room would be in our old house when he was still a toddler. When we woke up in the morning, I would drag his cot over to the side of my bed and either help him climb out of it onto my bed, or crawl inside with him.
A few years later, my family moved house to stay with my grandmother and I thought I would finally have a room to myself. Alas, my brother and I still had to share accomodation, as my grandmother required a room to herself.
While we were both unenthusiastic about it initially, it eventually became a norm to have a constant ‘roommate’. Although there was less privacy, we didn’t get in each other’s ways and often would relish in each other’s company.
When night fell and our parents forced us to go to bed, we would show-off our gymnastics tricks on our beds until we tired out our hyperactive body and mind.
My brother would also pester me to tell him stories, to which I would entertain him with scary stories I read online until we both dozed off. We both knew that no matter what horrors we filled our minds with, having someone else by our side would make sleeping easier.
However, after around seven years of this living situation in our new house, my brother decided he wanted a change of pace as the room we were currently sharing was rather small.
While he knew he could not have his own room, he at least wanted a proper bed for himself. Thus, we switched rooms with my grandmother who originally had the largest bedroom to herself.
This meant that our new bedroom was about to undergo a makeover.
Surprisingly, despite sharing a room for 15 years now, my brother and I don’t have as many similar interests as one would expect.
Personally, I am an avid reader with various novels on my bookshelf. Meanwhile, my dyslexic brother has never finished reading a whole book before and he’s more invested in drawing, painting and designing buildings. I can’t even draw a tree to save my life!
However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate each other’s interests.
Considering that my brother probably had way more knowledge on interior design than me, I let him have full control of how our new room would look like. He definitely didn’t disappoint.
Putting his artistic skills to use, my brother painted a collage of some of his favourite albums and hung them on our walls. He also decorated the room with old CD discs, fake plants and LED lights that he ordered online.
He even helped make my bookshelf look more aesthetically pleasing by placing Spotify acrylic plaques that he designed himself, along with a fake plant with leaves cascading down the side.
While we may not have many of the same interests and talents, there are two things we both like — Minecraft and horror shows.
To add more personality into our new room, we decided to incorporate features of the popular video game into our room design.
Decorating all these together actually gave us time to banter with each other and it was the source of new inside jokes. At night, we would come together to cut out, fold and paste paper bees and cows around the room.
On other nights, we started a weekly tradition to watch horror films before we slept — an upgrade from sharing scary stories when we were younger.
As we both enjoyed the thrill and adrenaline of fear, we would watch a horror movie and set our LED lights to red, bathing our room in a spooky glow.
All these shared interests further elevated the sibling bonding time between us and allowed us to grow even closer.
We even managed to bounce our interests off each other, especially in the music sense.
On days where my brother would use the table to study or paint while I did my work in bed, we would share our music playlists and introduce our favourite songs to each other as we did our own work.
I actually got introduced to new genres because of him and would feel strangely proud whenever my brother liked a song I played and downloaded it into his own playlist.
Although we both ideally would rather have our own rooms now, it would feel weird to no longer have a roommate to disturb every once in a while, or ask random questions during the night.
It was no doubt that being in close proximity forced us to open up and be more comfortable around each other. Growing up in the same rooms together also provided us with more chances to make memories and bond.
If I had the chance to give my younger self her own room, I wouldn’t take the offer up. As much as I would tell my brother how annoying he is, I wouldn’t trade his company for anything else.
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