When the exciting time of finding your roommate(s) finally arrives, you will likely not know what you are getting yourself into. Should you pair up with a friend? How about someone who seems like the complete opposite of you? Give it up to a random chance? Or should you choose someone in your own major? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to share the same pains with?
Random chance paired me with my roommate who happens to be in the same major as me. I thought, “It will be nice to have someone to work on projects and homework with.” However, there were some factors I failed to consider once I moved in.
- What Is Your “People Tolerance?”
The pandemic showed us that it can be difficult to be around the same people 24/7. The good thing to come out of this is that you are now aware of your “people tolerance.” How long does it take to see someone over and over until you become tired of them?
There is a chance that you and your roommate will have very similar schedules during the first term, maybe even the rest of freshman year. This means you will see them a lot. If you know that you can get tired of seeing someone more often than usual, then you might want to reconsider. You’ll see them in and outside of your room and the classroom. You will also see this person throughout your time at college.
This is a crucial factor! Since I did not realize that I had a lower than ideal people tolerance, this affected my relationship with my roommate. I would purposely distance myself from them in class and at home. It took me having an ‘oh, I’m the problem’ moment when I stopped myself from continuing this harmful act.
- How Kind Are You?
You likely said fairly kind, didn’t you? We all are kind, but there are things that push our buttons.
Let’s say you are working on a project and you need a piece of equipment to complete it. Your roommate also needs the same piece of equipment but does not have it. You do, so they ask to borrow it. You being the kind soul that you are, say, “Sure, just make sure to give it back.” No harm right? Yes, but this cycle continues. You try to remain kind about the situation, but you need the equipment at the same time your roommate decides to use it. Do you say yes once again, or do you tell them to go borrow the equipment from the department?
While that example was somewhat specific, a similar situation could occur with your roommate. It’s nice to have someone to share project and homework pains with, but it can be tough when one of you has something that you both need. Same confrontation, but a different atmosphere. This goes back to my first point; if you and your roommate have a fight about something at home, that will affect your relationship in class.
This is one that snuck up on me. In primary and secondary school, it is easy to compare yourself to your classmates. Everyone is talking about their grades and how well they are doing. In college, the comparison seems to be based more on the success of your career and the process you are taking to get there. Without discussing grades, it is still easy to compare yourself to others.
It seemed like I was comparing myself to my roommate in everything. Lifestyle differences, projects we worked on, homework, style, and even food. It was overwhelming. Were they comparing themself to me, or was I that self-conscious about my lifestyle?
Being an art major did not help at all. When one creates art, they are bound to compare themselves to other artists around them.
It was difficult to stop comparing myself, I still do sometimes. Instead of thinking, “They don’t look too confident in their work,” I think “Oh, maybe they need someone to talk through their thoughts with.” Or, instead of thinking, “Their project looks better and more interesting than mine,” I say, “We are working hard to produce our best work.” Changing the way I compare myself to others made me not act bitter towards my roommate and classmate for no good reason.
These lessons were tough to learn, but necessary to grow as a person and a roommate. A successful roommate pairing is dependent on all sides. It is important to set ground rules with your roommate(s). Have honesty in yourself and stand your ground on what is important to you! And if all else fails, see if you can get a roommate or room change. It doesn’t hurt to try to fix a problem before it becomes a bigger deal.