Freshman roommates — they’re probably the best and the worst thing that could ever happen to you. A majority of freshman year stress arises from worries about the person you’ll share your tiny space with. Will they become your best friend or your worst enemy? Will you add your story to the countless roommate tales of horror exchanged in the dorm laundry room? You’ll literally spend weeks leading up to move in day fretting about whether or not you’ll hit it off.
During your first year, people don’t tell you that it’s unlikely your roommate will be your best friend — or even your enemy.
Don’t feel embarrassed if you only know their sleep schedule.
I spent nearly a month worrying about finding someone who shared nearly all of my interests — music, movies and books. My goal: finding someone who lived nearly identical to me.
I ended up going random, and felt so excited about getting paired with someone who I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. There was a chance I could love the person I would share the next year with or I could absolutely hate them — and I was ready for it.
After I got my pair, we discovered that we lived in the same state. She offered to let me stay at her house for a weekend before the year began so we could talk and get to know one another. I felt like I had made the right choice going random — I was going to live with one of the nicest people on campus.
We spent our first few weeks talking each night and exploring the town together. We shared some of our first traditional college experiences together. Everything felt perfect — at least in my own little world. I had someone I could go home every night to complain about professors and floormates.
Suddenly, everything went downhill.
It had only been a month before things went sour. We had classes near each other, so we’d walk to class together. One day, it all just stopped without a word as to what was going on. I tried to reconnect with her, but it got to the point where we just stopped talking.
We were cramped in a tiny space — our beds barely four feet apart — and spent weeks without saying a single word to one another.
I was confused. Did I do something wrong? Did she hate the fact that I didn’t lock the door when I went to take a shower? Was she tired of listening to me talk about my boyfriend? Did she end up making friends with the girl I always complained about who lived next door? I just never knew, and I’ve never figured it out.
At first, I felt sad — it seemed like everyone had an incredible relationship with their roommate. Some people spent every second with their roommate. They never had to eat alone at dinner time or pull all-nighters in the library by themselves.
So, I started focusing my energy on people in the same clubs as me — and I just spent months without saying a word to my roommate.
It wasn’t a problem. I spent nights sleeping over with my friends in their dorm rooms. We’d spend the entire weekend watching movies all night and getting up early to catch the best food at brunch the next day. Then I’d go home to my roommate who refused to speak to me — she’d tuck her headphones over her ears before I could even sit down.
It was just how we lived.
There were no commitments that we had to one another, because we were mostly just acquaintances. We didn’t need to feel bound to living up to one another’s plans and expectations but, instead, we could branch out and live our own life separately.
I joined the marching band and she joined a sorority.
I spent my weekends watching movies and she preferred downtown.
We were freshmen, so we had a lot to learn about ourselves. We weren’t going to learn it by sitting in our dorm rooms together talking about who threw up in the communal shower. Our lives were only connected by room 431.
Often times, my roommate would do things that irritated me to no end. She liked to sleep with the window open even when it made me sick and she’d lock the door while she was doing homework at her desk. But it never meant that I hated her.
For a while, I felt like I had to force myself to feel pure hatred for my roommate just to establish some kind of relationship.
I’d call my boyfriend nearly every day just to find something to complain about when it came to her. It got to the point where I was grasping at thin air — there was nothing there for me to truly hate even if I disagreed with her at times.
I ruined a good chunk of my spring semester by trying to force some kind of a relationship between the two of us — good or bad. I just wanted something. Life in my dorm room became miserable because I kept trying to find all of the little things about her that irritated me, so I started to avoid spending time there.
As the year came to a close, I couldn’t complain about how things ended up. I had plenty of friends to eat dinner with (one who I was excited to sign a housing contract with for the next year) and I was happy spending time in the library alone if I really needed to. I found that I enjoyed having my room act as a haven of silence whenever I came to it.
Within the year, I felt that I found my place on campus even if it wasn’t with my roommate.
It’s important to realize that there’s no reason you have to be best friends or enemies with your freshman roommate. You don’t need the cutesy back story about how you met and immediately became friends for life, or even the horror story about the night they came stumbling home puking everywhere. It’s okay to just live together as two mature adults who live separate lives.
Leave your roommate drama up to destiny — leave it be wherever it lands. Just know you’ve got four years and an entire university to create yourself, so don’t get so caught up with what happens in the four walls of your tiny dorm room.