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2 Things Living With A Roommate Will Teach You About Yourself

By Danielle Wirsansky

College: it can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times. And a part of that college experience that can also be the best or the worst are those you have with your roommates. College students learn fast that rent is not cheap, and most have a roommate at least once during their time away at college. Whether this is in a dorm, an apartment, a house—roommates are an inevitable part of the college experience. And your choice of roommate is incredibly important, because not every personality jives together when you are in such close quarters.

Your relationship and resulting experience with a roommate can significantly impact your year and your college experience. But most of all, having a roommate matures you and helps you to grow up because it forces you to confront yourself and your own behaviors and sets of ideals. Having a roommate teaches you about yourself, often in ways you never expected.

 

 

 

Can You Compromise?

“A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece. “~Ludwig Erhard

One of the most important things that having a roommate teaches you about yourself is whether or not you can compromise, and if so, to what level. Maybe you never realized how uncompromising you can be. Maybe you never realized what a pushover you can be. Sometimes it can be hard to hold your own, or to stop yourself from steamrolling someone else. But in order to lead a happy, healthy, and balanced life, you must be able to compromise, especially with those you have close relationships with, like your roommate.

Roommates might seem temporary, but you have signed a contract that locks you into living with them for a prescribed amount of time and it is often difficult to break such a contract unless a situation is dire. Of course, you do not want to allow any situation or issue you are having with your roommate escalate to that level.

Maybe you both hate doing the dishes. But refusing to do them does not really help anyone, does it? Maybe your roommate likes to watch TV in the living room late at night and the sound keeps you up. But holding a pillow over your ears is not going to help you fall asleep any faster. Maybe your roommate wants you to stop reorganizing the furniture, but you feel that you cannot help it because you reorganize things when you are stressed out, and let’s face it, all of college is stressful—

There can and will be many different scenarios that arise that will most definitely call for compromise. And compromise is a difficult process and it can be hard to find a middle ground. But aside from making your living experience with your roommate smoother, being able to compromise will help make your whole life go smoother too. You do not have to fold or never get your way to compromise. And you certainly might not even be any good at compromising when an issue first arises. But as long as you try, and approach the compromise head on and totally invested in doing a good job, you will go far.

 

Are You Able to Set Boundaries?

“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring (just) because I don’t do things your way. I care about me, too.” ~Christine Morgan

Another important aspect that you learn about yourself is the way that you set boundaries. Are the boundaries you set too stringent, so harsh that no one can maintain them and others feel unwelcome in your life because of it? Or do you cross lines and have no personal boundaries, something that can scare others away? Or do you have boundaries but are not skilled at establishing them, so others cross them over and over again? Regardless of which camp you fall into, you will discover the answer very quickly once you are in a new environment with a new person like a roommate. After all, you have most likely lived with your family for the majority of your life. The boundaries you always had are different now and changing—and now you get to be the one that sets them rather than by abiding by your parent’s set of rules and boundaries.

You want your roommate to feel welcome in your shared home and in your life, regardless of whether you are the best of friends or not. You also want to feel welcome in your shared home and like you can speak to your roommate and do things without having to tiptoe around. Sometimes, especially because it may be the first time that you have had to establish boundaries, it can be difficult. Or perhaps it is almost too easy and you create boundaries that are way too harsh. College is the time to identify, learn, and improve.



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