I don’t remember the last time I felt comfortable in my own room.
When I first moved into my suite on campus I immediately felt out of place. I was living with six girls, one of whom immediately moved out upon realizing these girls weren’t her crowd. I should have done the same.
My first impression of my new roommates was as followed: A disingenuous smile, judgmental eyes and an overall awkward exchange of. I did, however, like one of my roommates, Molly*. She gave me a warm welcoming hug and we conversed for about 15 minutes until I settled into my room.
Little did I know that this welcome was also superficial and insincere. Already decorated with string lights emitting a soft, warm light, my large room seemed comfortable. I felt lucky to be placed in one of the biggest suites in my dorm.
When my direct roommate, Emily, walked into our room she’d just gotten back from the gym. I felt nervous to live with her. She and the other girls living with us had been friends for a while. They shared the same social circle. In fact, besides the girl who moved out, Emily and the other four girls actually chose to live with each other.
I was the stranger the system randomly spitted out to fill an empty bed.
There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in the one place where you should feel comfortable. That’s how I felt living with my suitemates. Whereas they liked to gossip and talk until the late hours of the night (every night) in the common room, I studied in the library and returned “home” to walls as thin as paper where I could hear every word and laugh as I tried desperately to get rest. It didn’t help that I was a light sleeper.
Every time I opened the door of the suite and walked into the common room I found my roommates and their girl and guy friends just “chillin’” and talking. I needed to go through the common room to get to my room. As soon as I walked in they would stare at me. They would stop talking. An anxious silence would fill the air. I felt humiliated for just existing.
The tension that continued to build between me and my suitemates reached a point where I needed to say something to them. I craved a good night’s sleep. That’s all I asked for. It didn’t matter how inferior or scared I felt, I paid to live in this suite.
I approached the situation subtly, hoping it got the hint across. “Hey guys, I have morning classes and these walls are super thin, and I’m a light sleeper…” Bam. Eyes gawked at me. A tentative pause hovered in the air. Molly, in a super, over-friendly voice said, “Yes, of course you need to sleep. We’ll try to be quiet at night!”
They tried, but they couldn’t. I realized that our lifestyles, even our approach to life, were completely different.
On Friday nights I preferred watching Netflix or reading a good book over heavy drinking and partying. I liked some alone time to reflect on my week and myself. I liked peace and quiet. I’d get cozy in warm blankets on my bed with my laptop in front of me and I felt comfortable.
This didn’t last as the girls got ready for pre-game or a night out. Heavy beats blasted from a Bluetooth speaker. The pink lemonade-flavored vodka emerged from its hiding place. Cold cans of Bud Light sat on the table in the common room. The munchies scattered about…
At 3:30 a.m. I was already sound asleep. Then they came back—drunk, loud, half naked. Emily came into our room with a boy. By this point I already asked them three times to respect my sleep schedule—to respect me. But I realized people aren’t going to change their behaviors just because you ask nicely.
The following week I met with my RA as well as my RD. I was the second girl who wanted to move out from suite 404 and that was not acceptable. The RD emailed my whole suite and asked to meet all of us in a conference room.
“Did you tell them we were drinking?” Emily asked. I told her it wasn’t. I told her the truth—that I wanted to move out.
“We were respectful of everyone in the suite,” said Molly. “We understand that some people are just here to learn, and that’s totally fine.” The RD nodded. Molly was trying to save them from getting into trouble.
“Alicia is going to be moving out. I don’t know when those two empty beds in your suite will be filled up, but when it does I expect every one of you to be considerate and welcoming to your new roommates. If there is another complaint, there will be a conduct issue,” the RD concluded.
They immediately deleted me from the suite’s group chat. They seemed happy that I was gone. To them I was a burden on their fun—extra baggage that they never wanted and didn’t want to carry around.
And I also felt happy to be gone. Residential living moved me to a dorm on the opposite side of campus. It was a traditional-styled dorm so the weekends were less hectic. I was a fish out of water living in that suite. After moving dorms, my mood, studying habits and grades improved significantly.
For me, environment contributed immensely to my success in college. Living in that suite forced me to stand up for myself. Self-advocacy was the key to overcoming a bad situation and now it’s a skill that I will always carry with me.
*Name changed to protect privacy.