As far as roommates go, it seems like a simple win or lose situation, right? You’ll either get stuck with Average Joe or Norman Bates. With my luck, of course I ended up with the latter–the only exception was the lack of a violent end to a perfectly good shower. For the poor souls who, like me, get matched with a roommate who is most likely stabbing needles into your own personal voodoo doll as we speak, check out a few tips to survive the semester. Disclaimer: I do not know how to ward off voodoo.
It’s time to acknowledge your room assignment, and there’s two options: Avoid contact like the plague or follow your school’s recommendations and figure out what you each plan to bring in order to fortify your glorified jail cell. Although the former sounds tempting, it’s best to establish contact early enough, so that it won’t be more uncomfortable later.
I forced myself to message my first roommate on Facebook, and despite my general introversion, I put myself out there. It backfired worse than Britney’s comeback of 2007. I was lucky if I had a response from her within a two-week period that didn’t read snarky and condescending. Her general attitude dampened my spirits, but I still hoped for that perfect roommate relationship. That was my first mistake.
As unfortunate as it seems, roommates aren’t always BFF, friend or even friendly acquaintance material. Expecting an instant friendship that leads to building a fort as epic as the one in Stepbrothers will end in disappointment. For your heart’s sake, view the roommate relationship as a business relationship in the beginning. Your goal is to make it through the year without killing each other so negotiation and compromise will be key. Establishing an open floor for communication will allow you to build a successful roommate relationship from the ground up.
The countdown is over and now it’s time to come face to face with the stranger you’ll be sharing your space with for the year. You’ll be as nervous as someone winning a VMA over Beyonce when Kanye West is in the audience. But guess what? Your roommate is just as nervous to meet you. There is no possible method to avoid the awkwardness so embrace it. Just be kind, helpful and friendly, and I guarantee your relationship with your roommate will be on point.
Sometimes kindness won’t cut it. I didn’t have a single aloof or unfriendly thought toward my new roommate, and she still found reason to treat me with a coldness only comparable to the penguin exhibit at Sea World. I made the mistake of allowing my roommate’s Miranda-in-The-Devil-Wears-Prada demeanor affect me on a significant level; my sanity suffered as a consequence. It escalated to the point that I felt horribly anxious whenever alone in my room with her, or worse, by the mere thought of returning to my room at the end of each day.
The best thing to do is to focus on other things outside of the horror show that has become your room. Find hobbies on campus. Focus on your schoolwork, which is the whole reason you’re here anyway, right? You’re only given so much time to enjoy your college experience so you may as well make room for the positives and shut out the Negative Nancy disguised as your roommate.
The Beginning of the End
Finals week is approaching so tensions are higher than usual. You and your roommate are scratching tally marks into the wall of how many days it has been since you’ve seen the sunlight. Your food rations have been depleted to a single loaf of bread and half a can of flat Coke. Instead of brawling out like MMA fighters, you take five to eat Nutella by the spoonful, belt out Disney songs at the top of your lungs and go boldly into the weird side of YouTube (Don’t act like you haven’t been there before).
Zoom in on my roommate stalking around the room like a jungle cat circling her prey. I’ll never forget coming home one night to my roommate screaming in my face for forgetting to mention that I filled out a maintenance request for our AC. It had interrupted her beauty sleep. Or the time she vocally expressed her distaste for me right outside of our door (Girl, I have ears). I’ll also never forget the following 30 minutes I spent crying to my RA.
Don’t let the situation escalate to this point. If tensions grow high between you and your roommate, talk to your RA as soon as possible to reach a calm and peaceful agreement rather than an all-out explosion of fury. If you’re like me and will do anything to avoid confrontation, arrange mediation where your RA will call you and your roommate into their room to start the discussing and resolving for you. The sooner that you can settle an issue, the better.
Sometimes, we’re matched with roommates that make us question the goodness of humankind (at least I was). But once the semester ends, your experience with a nasty roommate is nothing more than a distant memory to laugh at around a dinner table with friends. So the next time your roommate leaves the thermostat in the low 60’s during winter, shrug/giggle and crank it up because wasting a moment of your precious four years at college being unhappy is not just silly, but outrageous.
Or, you could be like me and beg desperately to get reassigned to a single dorm halfway through the year. Either way works.