4 Essential Truths About Living with a Stranger

It's not about knowing someone, it's about being able to live with them.
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Two girl-friends at a party

The first night at college with my roommate.

Choosing a college roommate is absolutely a life-altering decision, kind of like getting hitched to your soulmate. 

Your roommate is yours in sickness and health, for better or worse. The right choice can lead to lifelong friendship, memories, and happiness; the latter could quite literally ruin your first taste of the college experience.

My freshman move-in experience consisted of tearful goodbyes, lugging around heavy luggage, decorating, re-decorating, and decorating one final time to make sure my space was absolutely perfect to house the life (and party) of two college newbies. 

My hardest goodbye came as my mom walked out the door. I looked across the room at this beautiful, blonde stranger -- my new roommate -- prompting cold sweats and nervous shaking. I directed a look of pure desperation at my mom: 

"DO NOT leave me with this stranger!"

The truth? No matter how many facebook messages are passed between two strangers, no matter how well you think you know them, you really have no idea who someone is until you live with them. 

For me, it was not so much getting along with this girl that was the issue. It was the fact that I was unfamiliar with living with another person in my space all the time. 

With that, here are four essential truths to learn about roommate life. I found these to be helpful when living with a stranger (or anyone) for the first time: 

Sometimes "being alone" together is what you need

Living with anyone is an adjustment, and with that comes the understanding that everyone needs some quiet, personal time once in a while. 

I know it is awkward at first, but I promise it's okay to sit in silence and do your own thing when you need it! Learning when to spot that need is something to bond over, and before long you will take contentment in the comfortable silence you and your roommate share.

Respecting the space is important

Anyone who has experienced life in a dorm room knows that one sock on the floor can make your tiny shoebox of a room look like a tornado has hit - not to mention what the floor can look like on laundry day (aka like a full-on apocalyptic disaster has hit). 

There is a difference between being messy and being dirty, you do not want to be the one bringing down the life expectancy of the room because you are breathing in more dust than you are air. A little tidiness goes a long way, and getting in the groove of cleaning together (while simultaneously having a dance party) will really make you value each other and the little space you have been given.

Colorful college dorm room

My colorful college dorm room

Dealing with your pet peeves head-on is a must! 

It's okay to have pet peeves and it's okay to express them. However, it's not okay to let your annoyance build up and explode. There will always be people doing things that you do not like or you find annoying. Take the high road and understand that you are most likely doing things the other person does not like as well! 

Communication and honestly are key components in this situation as they are in any. So, take a deep breath, be kind, be respectful, and be honest.

Being a good friend goes a long way

College is hard, and adjusting to this new lifestyle is no walk in the park. Your roommate is probably going through the same struggles you are.

You know what being a good friend looks like, so be that for your roommate! You may not always get along, but a little compassion goes a long way. It is an amazing feeling to know that in this big world you have someone helping you conquer it.

Two girl friends together and smiling

My most recent photo with my roommate turned best friend turned sorority sister.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found my roommate. Living together made me realize all that we had in common, allowing me to learn and grow within our friendship and in life as well. My huge adjustment was made much easier with this woman by my side as she quickly became my best friend, therapist, shoulder to cry on, late night half-priced apps buddy, motivator, and cheerleader. 

While we have moved on from being roommates, I value the time we spent together in our tiny room and the memories that we made. My college experience would not be half of what it has been without Sarah.  

I know not everyone gets as lucky as I did when it comes to their roommate assignments, however I hope the lessons above will help you make the most of your own roommate situation. For more help, see our tips on how to get along with your roommate.

What have you learned from living with a roommate?

How has living with a roommate changed who you are? Did you have a good experience or a not so good one? Do these truths hold true to your experience?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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