This article was originally published on Unwritten.
The process of finding a roommate is one of the most awkward experiences college has to offer. It is both exciting and stone cold terrifying. The prospect of living with, in many cases, a perfect stranger, is extremely nerve-wracking.
The sheer number of possibilities is endless. The cynical side of our brains thinks, could she be a type-A genius who studies with the lights on until 3 in the morning? Maybe she is a hard-core party goer who spends most of her time day drinking? Or what if she is an antisocial gamer who won’t give you the time of day? On the other hand, she could be your platonic soul mate. So, it’s basically a risky gamble of hypothetical extremes. The unknown is literally endless. But despite the roommate horror stories we all hear from time to time; most people enter the experience with high hopes and high expectations.
One of the most common misconceptions about college life is that your roommate has to be your best friend. On paper, it sounds like a great idea. Meet someone new, share a living space, badda bing, badda boom – instant recipe for a partner in crime. However, this kind of mentality can limit your college experience and in some cases turn super sour. Good intentions often go bad when they are crammed into a 12’ by 15’ space for two semesters.
Sharing a dorm room with someone provides the kind of forced bonding that is very enlightening. No matter how hard you try, your roommate will catch you on off days or in unflattering circumstances. Unfortunately, if that roommate is your best, and possibly only, friend, you won’t ever be able to escape those moments. Like alcohol and chocolate, roommates are best in moderation. Expecting your roommate to be your best friend is a lot of pressure on a new relationship. If you can be friends that’s great, but simple civility and respect shouldn’t be under appreciated. You should feel at home in your dorm but not anchored to it. Don’t limit yourself to those four walls. Explore what else campus and the college experience has to offer.
If your roommate authentically becomes your best friend, then it may be fate. But don’t feel like you should force it just because you live together. You should both be able to grow as individuals and define your college life in whatever terms work for you. Don’t let a nice cozy dorm keep you from seeing the world. Meet new people, try new things, and enjoy the world outside your room. Part of having a healthy social life is diversity. Don’t put all your eggs in the roommate basket. Creating your own social circle will take the pressure off your new roommate relationship.
Expecting your roommate to be your best friend is like wearing sandals in the snow: sure, you have shoes on – but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for the weather. Just because your roommate lives in the same space as you doesn’t mean the friendship (or lack thereof) should define your college experience. Stay friendly, keep it cordial, and be a safe harbor for your roommate when they need it, and whatever is meant to happen, will happen.