The Gustavian Weekly

The roommate agenda | The Gustavian Weekly

By Emily Pratt - Opinion Columnist | October 13, 2017 | Opinion

Probably the most nerve wracking part about beginning the college life is sharing a room … with a stranger.

Unlike class loads and extracurriculars, that first-year roommate is entirely luck of the draw for most people.

This pairing can make or break a college experience because, like it or not, interacting with each other on a daily basis is almost unavoidable.

It’s rare that a first-year pairing will bud into the perfect friendship; witnessing another person’s daily living habits can be more than enough reason to avoid that type of connection.

Whether this includes lengthy talks about a favorite book series or grunts of indifference when asked whether it’s “ok” to turn off the lights, a particular atmosphere is created during that first week that will remain during the entirety of your time together.

On one hand, it is up to each individual to decide how they want this relationship to work out; on the other, some personalities simply clash.

Whether they are kindred spirits or human personifications of vinegar and water, this first-year living situation is essential to building life skills — and staying sane — for the remainder of one’s college and life experience.

The first, and probably most obvious, of these is the ability to compromise with someone who shares your living space.

The roommate situation may become far more manageable in the later college years, but rooming with your best friend isn’t going to eradicate all the problems typically experienced when sharing a room.

Working through the mayhem of living with a party animal who walks through the door very late at night often will at least make a later disagreement over sleeping hours appear much less significant.

It is important to draw a line where difficult roommates are concerned because, just like in any relationship, a room’s atmosphere can become too toxic for either party.

Before throwing your hands up in defeat, make sure the situation really is unsolvable and not something you can easily talk through with each other.

Sharing a living space will become part of most people’s daily life after graduation, whether it’s with a friend or two in an apartment or settling down with a spouse, and knowing how to compromise differing opinions on living requirements will make life that much easier.

Simply the presence of someone else in your room—or even just their stuff on the bed and floor—can be incredibly reassuring.

This is something that never would have crossed my mind had my roommate not decided to move out last weekend.

This decision was personal for her and wasn’t due to any disagreements between us, but it resulted in a complete turn around for me as a resident of a college dorm.

We didn’t particularly have any similar interests, and our conversations were limited to friendly greetings with rare compliments in between.

While I rolled out of bed ten minutes before heading to class, she was up bright and early to shower and begin the long process of makeup application.

Despite all this, it was a relationship that worked due to our mutual respect of each other’s space, time, and sleep habits.

The absence of most of her stuff does allow me more storage space, but it also feels unusually empty for a room meant for two people.

I’ve formed the habit of shutting myself in my room for intense study sessions, and the simple presence of the lights and plants she had decorated the room with allowed me to remember that I was far from the only person feeling overwhelmed with homework and other responsibilities.

Now, with only my stuff remaining, the room has become unusually isolating.

This was puzzling at first because I had spent the majority of my first 18 years at home very content with sleeping alone in my room.

Realizing it takes work to live side by side with someone else can, however, allow for personal growth and lessen the daunting idea of sharing personal space in the future.

But the expectation of college life includes dealing with the presence of a roommate which results in a strange disappointment when the bed across from yours no longer has sheets neatly tucked.

While this is clearly not everyone’s sentiment, as seen by the competitive streak for single rooms each year, the idea of a roommate remains essential to the college experience.

It’s rare that a first-year pairing will bud into the perfect friendship; witnessing another person’s daily living habits can be more than enough reason to avoid that type of connection.

Realizing it takes work to live side by side with someone else can, however, allow for personal growth and lessen the daunting idea of sharing personal space in the future.

So, next time your roommate is driving you up the wall, remember that the memories you are making are helping your future self feel relief that their rooming problems appear much more straightforward.

Remember all the experiences you gain from living with each person, both the good and the bad.

Utilize these experiences to make yourself a better roommate for others whom you will  share a space with in the future.

While we can always learn from those bad experiences, its much more pleasant to live with someone who has experienced the rough stuff and has since learned to be a great and thoughtful roommate.

Together it is possible to create a positive and healthy living environment.