College is an incredible experience. A person who makes the decision to attend an institution of higher learning can further their education, gain valuable work and research experience, learn how to work with others and improve things like time management and critical thinking skills: two things that will come in handy later on in life.
But the most important lesson one learns is their newfound independence. When going to college, a person doesn’t have the safety blanket of a parent or a long-term significant other or what a friend offers. Long story short, they learn how to fend for themselves.
Independence builds character and character breeds success. Parents hope that they raised their soon-to-be college educated children well enough to have a seamless transition through college.
There is one problem with that though. Some people are further down the road than others in that “being independent” factor. This can be seen when one is forced into a living situation with people they don’t know very well.
Having roommates is always a very difficult task. How well one will get along with the strangers they live with depends on many factors, including how they were raised, where they are from and what values were instilled in their mind, just to name a few.
At the end of the day, you may either become best friends with the people you live with or you may have a countdown of how many days you have left before you don’t have to deal with their annoying habits ever again.
Why do you think there are so many bad roommate stories?
Some people just don’t know or aren’t capable of living with others. Common sense gets thrown out the window. Others become way too comfortable. It becomes painfully difficult to live with these people to the point you would much rather pitch a tent and sleep in the freezing snow over coming back to your apartment or dorm.
This is when two of the most important lessons in college are learned: adaptability and patience.
Maybe your roommate came from a rural place, or another country, or a middle class suburban home that surrounds a major city. Your roommate could do things that while they are okay in their household can be a big no-no in yours. Either way, there are a multitude of different habits that may not be similar to what you are used to.
Adapting to where they are from can play a huge role in making an otherwise negative roommate situation somewhat positive. For example, if this person is proud of their cooking skills or their art, no matter how much you dislike them, appreciate what they brought to the table.
When your roommate makes a statement so ludicrous you have to wonder how they can be so ignorant, instead of rolling your eyes and judging them over their blatant stupidity, you can enlighten them and let them know their beliefs are incorrect, while respectfully correcting them.
More importantly, when your roommate disrespects your space, has some disgusting habits, or makes false accusations based on imaginary assumptions made in their heads, pull them aside and tell them to their face as clearly as possible that their behavior is unacceptable and there needs to be some change.
In order for there to be a cohesive living environment, there needs to be understanding between all parties. In addition to that, there needs to be some sacrifices from each person involved.
Sorry, you can’t plaster the whole dorm with things related to where you are from. But a poster or two displaying how proud you are of the area is good enough to make every party happy. Adapting and adjusting to everyone’s lifestyle choices are a much underrated part of having a roommate.
But maybe you have that roommate that is just horrible to live with. You can’t win with them no matter what. They complain about pointless things. They are passive-aggressive. They make everything ridiculously difficult. They think they have free will over everything and therefore they can do whatever they want.
The key here is staying patient when a roommate is really getting in your nerves.
Maintain minimal interaction with this roommate, take a deep breath when the roommate is partaking in behavior that you don’t appreciate, don’t make rash decisions and keep in the back of your mind that the living situation is temporary. Once everything is all said and done, you don’t have to continue living with that person.
Heck, you don’t even need to talk to them ever again.
But in the grand scheme of things, having a bad roommate can actually be a blessing in disguise. It teaches you that you will have to deal with different types of people during your lifetime. The way you handle the situation here can be crucial when a similar situation takes place in the future, whether it is with another roommate or a future co-worker.
Learning how to be patient and adapt in not-so-appealing situations are also traits that can be carried on for the rest of the one’s life. For those of you who are currently struggling with bad roommates, it gets better.
But until then, stay strong when your roommate accuses you of drinking the last cola in the fridge when you clearly didn’t do so.
Jideobi Ezeonu is voices editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.