Since August 2020, I have been living in a shared space with other students — all friends of mine, of course. Living with friends and other young people was, and is, definitely a plus during this pandemic, especially last summer when the lockdowns were in full effect. We found fun activities to do indoors, there was always someone to have a conversation and spend time with, and a lot of family dinners. All in all, our group morale was always up.
Despite all the benefits of living with friends during a pandemic, things didn’t always go smoothly. Sharing four walls with young, strong-minded individuals will inevitably lead to some friction, and friction there was. In trying to solve these issues, I learned a few things:
- Ground/house rules are a MUST!
I cannot stress enough how important these are and how desperately we needed them. We all started off with unspoken rules in our minds and assumed they were common sense. As it turns out, what’s common sense for one person may not be for another, which reveals that everyone thinks differently, and it is important to establish a common ground. To save ourselves from a lengthy period of trouble and misery, it doesn’t hurt to state things initially and restate them when needed — such as having a rotational roster for weekly trash assignments, initially our trash kept piling up with no one systematically taking them out on time, thus had to come up with a system — something my roommates and I definitely did.
- Communication is key
All I can say is talk! Just do it. While I have lived with my friends, I’ve felt that I’ve had the freedom to do what I want, and no one wants to stop me from making plans. I did what I personally wanted to do. But when the things you do or plan on doing involve your roommates or the shared living space, a heads up is always appreciated. Especially during the pandemic, inviting others into your shared living space needs to be discussed because you don’t want to put anyone at risk of exposure. So, yes, you can plan activities, but you should definitely talk it out with the others to make sure they are okay with it as well.
- Have your own personal space
Having your own quiet space is so crucial for you and your mental health. Living with friends is fun, especially in a large group. But being surrounded by people gets exhausting because there is a huge socializing element to it. Being in that environment 24/7 takes a huge toll on your body and mind. Some social butterflies may love it, but I need my own time and space sometimes to recuperate and “charge my social battery,” as I like to say. Wherever that may be — whether it’s your room or a small corner somewhere — I highly encourage you to seek it out. It’s what kept me sane, and it might help you too as well.