Hello baby 'bos! Let’s lay it on the line- stepping into new situations can be absolutely terrifying. This is especially true if you feel like you won’t have a place to go to escape the newness. When those fears are compounded- the idea of a carefree college experience seems otherworldly.
I, like you, had my freshman year roommate assigned at random and was nervous that we wouldn’t get along. I stalked her on Facebook right after receiving the e-mail and had only one thought- oh my goodness, she is so much cooler than me and she’s going to think that I’m so lame. I was scared to message her- thinking she was probably busy doing cool girl things like sports and wearing scrunchies for fashion. (Luckily, she messaged me first.)
Based on her Facebook, I was pretty sure that she and I didn’t have a lot in common. And on paper, we aren’t very similar, but my main takeaway from this experience is that you don’t have to be similar to be great roommates.
So here are my tips for a successful roommate relationship:
Communication is probably this biggest obstacle in new friendships since it’s kind of awkward to tell a stranger that they snore really loud and it’s keeping you up at night or that you may be allergic to their wool blanket. But you have to talk about the things that bother you! Don’t allow the annoyance to build up until you snap and being passive-aggressive won’t solve the issue in the long run.
Also remember that nobody wants to be a ~bad~ roommate. People grow up in a lot of different ways with a lot of different habits and you can’t find a way to peacefully co-exist with a stranger without addressing those differences. I’d suggest you lay some ground rules when you get to school. Is it okay for either of you to have friends hang out in the room? What time do you want the lights to go off at night? Is it okay to borrow clothes? What items are off limits to borrow? Once you create the space for dialogue, the prospect of living together will seem much less daunting.
2) GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO BE A GOOD ROOMMATE
If you notice that the trash is full, take it out. If the floor is dirty, sweep it. Keep your area of the room neat and your roommate will do the same. You get to set the precedent for what you expect from your roommate- remember that actions speak louder than words, especially in this context. Put in the work to make the space comfortable for both of you and it will all work out.
3) BE FRIENDLY
I’m not saying that you need to be best friends with your roommate; that may happen but it’s not necessary that you are best friends to have a good living relationship. Hostility breeds hostility and kindness breeds kindness. If you want to be friends, be friendly. This extends to the people on your residence hall floor and to social life in general. The kinder and friendlier you are, the more people you will meet and the more friends you will make. Get to know the people on your floor and hang out in the common areas. I know it’s tempting to lock yourself in your room and watch Netflix for hours on end. But during orientation week, everyone is looking to make friends and to find a sense of community on campus. Because of this, it’s much less daunting to sit with a group of strangers in the dining hall or join in on a game of frisbee on the quad. Take advantage of those opportunities and step out of your comfort zone!
I know that all of this advice is easier said than done. I was so nervous and overwhelmed during my orientation week that I stayed in my room knitting for a majority of the days. I’m so grateful to my roommate who invited me to tag along with her and her pre-o group to different events and meals because in doing so, I was forced to be an active participant in my college experience. I encourage you to do the same.
I can’t wait for y’all to arrive!!!