Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Natalie Hill, a recent graduate of American University and one of those people that has a knack for nearly every instrument ever invented.
My mom is the cleanest, most organized person I know. Well, aside from her mother, who yells at me when I mess up the placement of her refrigerator magnets. When I was younger, I had a habit of leaving the basement door open, and my parents would say, “Do you think we live in a barn?”
Now, my parents and grandmother aren’t oppressive. They just value cleanliness, and they’ve taught me well. Needless to say, it rubbed off on me, and I’ve inherited some of my mom’s OCD tendencies.
When you’ve grown up living with the same people your whole life, adjusting to having new roommates (who are oftentimes strangers in college) can be difficult. I learned quickly that not every parent is as clean as mine are. Some people don’t get anxious when their beds aren’t made or when the desk chair is unusable because of the pile of clothes sitting on it. And it’s not just cleanliness. Different people just have different habits. For example, I’ve always been early to bed and early to rise (another inheritance from my mom). It seemed like my first college roommates’ days started at 10pm, while I was falling asleep. Buying groceries together is hard too. I’m pretty sure all of the roommates I’ve had loved yogurt and always asked for it when we went grocery shopping. But I never eat yogurt. Some roommates want to spend hours watching Gilmore Girls or Doctor Who when all I want to watch is a sad or intense movie like Finding Neverland or Pan’s Labyrinth.
What I’m saying is that everyone is different. Sometimes this can be really beautiful - combining ideas and creativity and interests. And sometimes it can cause a ton of tension. Living with roommates can be super fun. I’ve done so many weird, random, great things with my roommates. In college, you can get away with pushing all your beds together and calling it The Superbed or setting up the camping tent in the middle of the living room to watch Toy Story 3 in it. But other times, there are disagreements or frustrations that arise when you’re living in such close proximity with other people.
I’m nowhere near the perfect roommate, but I think I’ve learned a few things from living with other people for about five years now. First, I think we need to go into our roommate relationships with a servant’s heart. That sounds cliche, but it’s important. If we posture ourselves to serve the people we live with, it cuts down on the frustrations. Just because your roommate was the last person to put something in the trash, that doesn’t mean you can’t empty it. Sometimes, you’re going to end up doing dishes you didn’t create. That’s just how it works. And I’ve found that people are more likely to serve you when they’re being served too.
I’ve also learned that you just have to meet each other in the middle. Set up ground rules and be clear about expectations while also understanding where they’re coming from. My roommates probably won’t agree to vacuum every other day, even though that’s what my grandma does. Being realistic in setting expectations is important.
Living with roommates is one of the most fun things about being in college. It can also be one of the most frustrating things. Coming into a roommate relationship with a servant’s heart will eliminate a lot of that tension.
Then just make the most of living so closely in community with others. Because it only looks like this for a season.