Sharing your home with roommates is no easy feat. In college, I had to opportunity to be shoved into a small apartment with three other people. Yes, the apartment was small, but so was the amount of money coming out of my bank account each month, so we made it work. And even though things were not awesome and fun 100% of the time, I learned way too much in those years to ever want to trade my experience.
You learn how you like things. The easiest way to find out your pet peeves and your standards when it comes to your home life is by living with other people. Maybe you didn’t know you don’t like music blaring first thing in the morning, but one week with your new DJ-wannabe roommate, and you’ve just learned something new about yourself.
You learn how to communicate. Can’t stand the way your roommate starts talking your ear off the minute you get home from a long, stressful day? Enter the need for effective and open communication. You have to let her know you need some peace and quiet when you come home after a long day. This is when you really master those communication skills and learn how to get your point across without hurting her feelings and still get what you need.
You learn how to be quiet. You have class at 7am and your roommate gets to sleep in until noon – time to get ready in the dark and figure out how to navigate the house without making a sound. It might take a few trips, but you soon figure it out.
You learn how to forgive quickly. It’s real awkward living in the same room and same house as someone you just fought with. One minute you’re fighting about who cleaned the bathroom last – and both of you claim you’re always the one to do it. And the next minute you’re both in the kitchen trying to get dinner made.
Unless you want to feel uncomfortable and awkward in your own home, you learn to forgive quickly and move past small issues with grace.
You learn how to like new things. For example, I learned how to like cheesy vampire shows when my roommate decided to binge watch Vampire Diaries every day. Every. Single. Day. And though I wasn’t a fan at first, I have to admit, the storyline ended up being pretty good. In fact, a couple episodes in and I was hooked and made him start waiting until I got home to watch it, or at least fill me in on what I missed while I was gone.
You learn how to be vulnerable. There is no such thing as ugly-crying in the bathroom at 3am without your roommate hearing you. You quickly learn your problems become their concerns and there is a special bond that comes with sharing your home with other people.
You learn how to be accepting. Depending on who you have as roommates, there is a good chance you do not hold the same values and beliefs as each other.
You can either let these differences create a wall between you, or you can let it create space for interesting conversations and the ability to learn how to accept someone who lives differently than you.
Though it may be one of the most challenging experiences, living with roommates, at least once in your life, is also one of the most fun and rewarding. And if nothing else, you definitely learn a lot!