I don’t know about you, but before my freshman year of college, I never had to share a room in my life.
Up until I left for college in 2010, I had comfortably been holding solo dance parties in my room until 2 am, and then greedily parking my ass right in the middle of the bed, arms extended, ready for whatever the world would throw at me (especially if they were pillows).
As excited as I was to embark on a journey of new beginnings, I was also pretty apprehensive about sharing my beloved personal space.
Would this mean I couldn’t hang around in my underwear anymore? What about my impromptu dance parties?
In essence, residence hall life did prove to be the most challenging and therefore, the most rewarding of my college experiences.
Living with a roommate isn’t easy, much less comfortable. There’s a lot of, “Sure! You can bring your friend over!” Then, you secretly leave because you can’t handle their obnoxiousness.
There’s also a lot of, “I’m fine! How are you?” But you're secretly just begging for them to leave, so you can just finally shed some tears.
And then there’s also a lot of coming home late at night to find your roommate wrapped in some stranger’s arms. Awks.
I remember that, after a brief stint with bed bugs toward the end of that first year, I was like, “What else ya got for me? Bring it!”
Which is exactly why I think, even though it's challenging, living with a roommate can teach you the most about yourself, and therefore can be one of the most valuable times in your life.
Here are seven things living with a roommate can teach you:
1. How much alone time you need
This is the moment you realize that no, you do not actually want to watch "Grey’s Anatomy" reruns with your roommate in the living room. All you want right now is to walk quietly to your room, shut the world out and sync into your new Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.
Alternatively, this is the moment you find out that you can handle more people than you previously thought. Suddenly, coming home is an exciting prospect, because this means you get to make popcorn and do each other’s nails and stuff.
Impromptu BYOB party? Bring it! Invite all the neighbors!
2. How much you’re willing to compromise
This is the moment you realize that living with a group of four kids isnt’t as fun as was originally promised.
All of a sudden, there’s no room to do your dishes on the sink, no place in the fridge to keep that can of marinara sauce you just bought and to top that off, somebody’s been eating your Nutri-Grain bars.
This is the moment you realize, “It needs to stop.” Or the moment you are like, “Fine, they’re letting me have the bigger room anyway.”
In all dwellings, there are small sacrifices to make. Some people make them better than others. Some people just don’t think about others. This is the moment you realize which kind you are.
3. How strong-willed you are
This is the moment you realize you can’t handle your roommate sleeping with his or her significant other in the bed next to yours. Even less so when you know they could totally take it elsewhere.
Having a strong will, to me, means how much you’re willing to vouch for your own affairs in any given situation.
And in moments like these, when you’re forced to reiterate, you need to stand beside your original point with a little grace, and prove how much strong will you're going to offer.
Back off, creepy boyfriend. Go home.
4. What your communication skills are truly like
This is the moment you realize, in order to maintain peace and goodwill around the quarters, there has to be more words exchanged besides, “Yeah, dude,” “Want some pizza?” and “Turn that down.”
"Issues are resolved on their own if no one talks about them," said no one ever.
So, this is the moment you realize you’ve had enough with the empty rolls of toilet paper milling around the bathroom floor. This is the moment you realize how hard it can be to bring issues up.
Especially when the first time you bring it up, there’s a door slam in the house. Thought you could get away with no filter? Think again.
5. What your sense of justice says about you
This is the moment you realize that it f*cking sucks that you’re the lightest sleeper and you got the room next to the living room.
This is the moment you realize it sucks even harder when your roommate likes to watch boxing matches, and invites everyone on the floor while you’re trying to study for an exam tomorrow.
That little bead of sweat condensing on your forehead is not surprising; it’s just your sense of injustice inflating and thoroughly screaming to be heard.
Some people couldn’t really care less about any of this stuff. I, on the other hand, thoroughly admire those easygoing souls.
But you see, these are the moments that separate those people from the rest. And in any case, they will help you loosen up.
6. How comfortable you are with confrontation
This is the moment you chicken out and leave the apartment at the slightest indication that somebody’s upset because somebody said he was going to take the trash out and the dog got to it first. Sh*t.
That’s exactly it, though. Sh*t. Sh*t everywhere.
And no one wants to have a sit-down about this. Because let's face it: We all want to be liked, and we hate the prospect of having to come out the other side of an argument with a few scratches.
But in all reality, this doesn’t bode well for either party involved. And it’s always uncomfortable to be the one confronting, or the one confronted.
7. Your ability to expand your horizons
This is the moment you realize that you don’t hate Björk as much as you thought. Or that "The Lord of the Rings" is actually pretty good.
Being headstrong is a good thing, but I’ve come to find that learning to be positively influenced by others can also be good thing.
Granted, you’re the one to define what’s positive and what is not. It’s good to know boundaries, but for the most part, this is the moment you find out how much you’re willing to cross them.
This is the moment you catch yourself learning how to line dance in the middle of your living room, while your funny/country/hippie roommate plays the music and teaches you some new steps.
So give in; you just might learn something.