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4 tips to surviving roommates


roommatesI remember the day I moved to college as if it were yesterday.

I remember feeling so grown up and accomplished and ready to take on the world.

Ready to start my life on my terms, do things my way, and live the life I imagined.

So much hope and so many dreams packed into 12×19 feet.

I attended a Big-10 school my first year and had three roommates from different parts of the midwest. In the months preceding school we wrote letters to each other. Remember those? The kind you sent through the mail with a stamp?

That kind.

Handwritten. I remember studying the way one of them wrote her return address on the envelope. I {hearted} it. I’ve written my return address just like it ever since. All these nearly twenty years later.

What would she think of that?

It’s amazing the things that stick with us. And the things that don’t.

That was a hard year. Growing up with more than a handful of insecurities around female relationships my dreams were so big, so grand, so…perhaps…delusional about what awaited me that first college year.


For so much of my life I felt I was on the outside looking in and here it started again. In the beginning I thought I fit, I tried really hard to fit, and then I realized I.just.didn’

No matter how hard I tried to be like them and enjoy the things they did, I felt untrue to myself. No matter how hard I tried to be true to myself I felt more and more like I didn’t fit.

It wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was four young girls trying out their identities, spreading their wings, experimenting with things and relationships and freedoms they never had before.

It was life.

And at the time it felt consuming. It felt overwhelming and suffocating and like it would never end. That if I didn’t conform or just leave I would die. But I couldn’t conform and I couldn’t really leave so I left as often as I could, made it through the year and never looked back. Never heard from any of those girls again and guess what?

I didn’t die.

I look back now on that year and roll my eyes at myself. What was a lot of hormones and girl posturing and practicing mistakes seemed like agony. And now I look back and see the humor in it all. I can laugh at myself. The mistakes. The chaos. The drama.

If you’ve recently moved in with your college roommates and things aren’t going how you expected, take heart. Nearly every single woman you’ve ever met, and all the ones you haven’t met yet, has lived through what you walked into a week ago and survived to tell the story.

If you’re struggling with fitting in you might want to read this post about finding where you belong.

If you’re needing courage to be true to yourself you might want to read why it’s good to be you.

But if you just need to know you’re not alone? You’re not alone.

If you’re struggling with your roommates and you need some concrete help in figuring out what to do, here are a few important guidelines to remember:

1. Safety

If your safety is at risk you need to get help immediately. This could be because she does drugs or allows dangerous friends into your dorm or apartment. There are people you can go to. Start with your RA and if necessary, demand a new roommate. You will never get help if you don’t ask. Be assertive and learn to be your own advocate. You’re going to need that in life, you better start practicing now.

2. Personality Clash

If you and your roommate simply don’t get along, don’t pretend there’s not an elephant in the room. I’ve done this a million times and I always regret it. It’s better to have a simple conversation that might go something like this: “Hey {roommate}, I sense that maybe we’re on different paths and perhaps might not be interested in a lot of the same things, but I want you to know that I hope we can respect each other and our differences and live together peacefully.” That way you’ve acknowledged what you both already know or feel, and it moves it out of the way so you can just live.

3. You’re Miserable

If your roommate situation escalates to the point where you hate living there or are considering leaving college, try another alternative. Maybe check out a sorority. I did not pursue this option and I can look back now and really say I wish I did. I have so many beautiful friends now that came out of sororities and had the best college experiences ever. I was afraid they would all be prissy and mean and gossipy so I avoided them. I can definitely say I  think I lost out.

4. You Miss Home

We wanted to get away from home and our family more than anything in our whole entire lives and now we just want to go back. We all wanted to go back. We want back the life that is familiar, even if it was boring. All the possibilities before us and around us seem….overwhelming. And we’re afraid. Too often we want to jump back in the car or go back to our old high school boyfriend before we give ourselves time to find our wings. If this is you, just wait. Remember this is just a season and at most a year. Next year you can pick your own friends to live with. Find your own apartment and your own little group. Take a moment and breathe.

Getting out of the nest is exciting and scary all at once. We are sure we know exactly who we are and then we’re thrust into this whole new world and we’re not so sure at all. What you’re going through is normal. What you’re feeling is okay. Most of the people you meet this year you will never see again. And all the times you think you just might die, will be some of your greatest memories or funniest stories twenty years from now.

I mean it. You’re going to be okay.

This is the beginning of anything you want.

To all the women who read this blog who have been there — lets help our sisters coming up behind us. What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you went to college?

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