5 Reasons a Bad Roommate Is a Good Thing

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You’ll always encounter people you don’t particularly like. The real issue lies in living with said people. You avoided them in the halls or blocked them on social media in high school. But when the person you most despise doubles as your roommate, things can get tricky as tensions rise. My naïve self, however, held onto the idea that my future roomie and I would spend our time binging on indie movies or studying on the campus’ arboretum. I kept my fingers crossed, but the universe had other plans. But learning how to handle a bad roommate in such close quarters will help you in the long run.

Here’s 5 reasons your bad roommate will help you succeed in life.

1. You Learn to Stop Conflict Before It Happens

You’re on your way back to your dorm after a long day of classes. Tired an sweaty from the walk, you practically hear your bed calling your name from across campus. You finally make it back in one piece ready to sleep off that chemistry quiz you definitely bombed, but your roommate made other plans. She’s blasting music and talking on the phone as if the person on the other end can’t hear a word unless they shout. You politely ask for them to lower the volume. Minutes later she slowly raised the volume back to its original ear-deafening decibel.

The first few times this happened, you freaked. But now, you roll with the punches. You see no need in starting problems when there aren’t any. That’s not to say you’re a pushover; you just became the bigger person in the dorm room. Grin and bear it. Or choose to leave the room to find a quiet place somewhere else. Whatever your solution, you will learn that taking the high road always beats picking another fight.

2. You Perfect Your Polite Face

In the past, you got away with passive aggressiveness or side-eye. It’s only a matter of time before your roommate put the pieces together. Eventually, you craft a perfect way to mask your discontent. Your go-to methods include small talk about the weather or how much homework you have that night.

There’s a good chance your roommate and you won’t become instant besties. And that’s totally okay. You may not even become friends, but you’ll find a way to coexist. With time, you’ll adapt to putting on a front that doesn’t send off constant negative vibes. And when you find yourself surrounded by coworkers that make your roommate seem like an angel at your first job, you’ll thank your roommate for letting you practice. Maturity beats pettiness, always.

3. You Build Your Tolerance Threshold

Opposites attract—or so they say. Sometimes they just bicker all the time. My first year, I lived like a night owl while my roommate liked a quiet night in watching Wes Anderson movies. She preferred to keep the room chilly. I couldn’t stay in the dorm unless I wore sweatpants and a coziest sweater. We made it work most of the time, but sometimes our eyes would roll and our tongues would sharpen.

As the semester dragged on, I realized I didn’t need to challenge everything my roommate did. Some of her ideas weren’t all that bad once I gave them thought. For instance, her requests to turn out the lights by 11 p.m. on weekdays reminded me that a good night’s sleep is better than any Netflix binge. In a funny way, I’m grateful I got so annoyed with my roommate. You should feel the same way, too. Besides, the feeling is probably mutual on your roommate’s part. It’ll make you see the world from different perspectives and remind you that your way of seeing things isn’t the only one.

4. You’ll Find Your True Friends

Don’t feel bummed you guys don’t braid each other’s hair at night or hit the gym on the weekends. See it as a way to branch out and make friends by yourself and for yourself. After concluding that you and your roommate aren’t on the same page, you can take a real look at what you like and what you dislike in people.

Besides meeting friends that you actually want to spend time with, you have a reason to not stick around the dorm with the one person who doesn’t appreciate your company so much. You get to look forward to when you get cabin, or roommate, fever. It forces you to go on a quest to find your college BFF, who will make a world of difference. Years from now, you’ll meet your college bestie for brunch somewhere downtown and you’ll thank your iffy roommate for forcing you to get out of your room.

5. You’ll always look back on these cringe-y memories

My brother graduated college over two years ago. Our family still jokes about his freshman roommate. Let’s just say that if he went to college to study the art of partying, he passed with flying colors. That is until my brother called help for him on numerous occasions. Their weekends ended them up in the medical center way more than they should have. But my brother can’t help but chuckle whenever he remembers his old buddy. Hopefully, your roommate’s foibles aren’t so messy. Whatever they are, they’ll make for a great story to share. Next time you want to throw your hands up in defeat, think of how funny the problem will sound in a year or two.

To everyone counting down the days until they move out, focus more on what will come out of your experience. Every time you want to make a jab at your roommate for stumbling home at 2 a.m. on a weeknight. But decide against the urge. You’ll learn as I did, and still am, that you won’t and don’t need to mesh with everyone you encounter. Don’t pout about it. Make the most of it while and become the best version of yourself.

Kaitlyn is a freshman at the University of Maryland. She loves writing, driving around town and being curious.

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