By Mary-Lou Watkinson
It’s my senior year of college, and I decided to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.
I decided to get a roommate.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but this is a pretty big step for me.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Didn’t you live in a dorm?” “You haven’t had ANY roommates this whole time?” “You lived alone?!”
The answers to those questions are no, yes and yes.
For the past two years that I’ve been at UF, I lived by myself in a two-bedroom apartment. (Thanks, Mom and Dad; they used the second bedroom for the times they came to visit.)
So, I had a space all my own — an empty apartment to welcome me every day. Honestly, it was great.
I loved living alone, and I think it’s a great experience to have when you’re young and kickin’. It really helps you learn more about yourself and how to handle your daily responsibilities (cooking, doing dishes, taking out the trash, etc.). However, rent still pops up every month, and with prices continuously rising, my parents and I decided it’d be best for me to get a roommate.
By this point in college, I found a best friend. She’s great, and I love her to death. We both love to read and are into the same movies. She can make me laugh harder than anyone else, and she’s a great cook. We’re very similar, but we still have our own interests and stuff we like to do separately. I decided that if I had to live with anyone, living with my best friend would be the best option for me, regardless of those naysayers who warned me about how this was a bad idea and could end a friendship.
So we did it.
After a long and semi-annoying process of trying to find an apartment, we finally signed a lease and moved in together.
Having never lived with people other than my immediate family members, I was a little nervous.
Cautious as I was, I felt determined to make this work — and make it fun.
The first month or so was great, and I guess you could call that the “honeymoon” stage. We made the apartment completely organized, which included a white board with both of our schedules. We would have long movie nights where we talked for hours, and we enjoyed just being able to walk a few feet to talk to each other, rather than having to drive 10 minutes.
Then, I started noticing all her little quirks:
How she’s a little more pessimistic than I am.
How she doesn’t really take the trash out.
How she doesn’t open the blinds in the living room.
How she never turns the AC off when leaving the apartment.
All of this started to weigh on me, but I didn’t want to cause a rift in our relationship by confronting her about it. I was used to a different routine, because when there was an issue in my apartment, it was usually my fault, so I would pull it together and fix whatever was bothering me.
I’ve come to learn that there’s only so much “pulling it together and fixing it” you can take when living with another person. When it comes to smaller things like someone not taking out the trash, I’ve learned that it’s important to communicate with him/her about how it is bothering you. Otherwise, those aggravated feelings just build up, and you don’t want them to turn into resentment.
Aside from that, there are some things that may bother you that you can’t change, like personality traits. For example, I didn’t notice how pessimistic my roommate was until I saw her every day, but I am not going to try to change that one miniscule piece of who she is. There are qualities in all of us that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and we just have to let these things go and learn to live with them.
For the most part, living with someone else isn’t so bad. I sometimes miss living alone, enveloped in my own peaceful silence and comfortable habits. Nonetheless, it is nice to have someone there for you, especially when you’ve had a bad day or don’t have time to cook dinner for yourself. My roommate always offers to get me anything if I’m ever feeling stressed or sick, and she’s even had a delicious chicken stir fry waiting for me at home after I had a full day of classes.
After all, I spent 2/3 of my college career living alone, and I think it’s good to learn how to live with someone before you become a fully-functioning adult.
You most likely will not be able to live alone forever. (Hello, NYC rent.) It’s hard sometimes to think outside of yourself in order to get along with someone else, but having a roommate helps you learn some valuable life lessons about compromise, teamwork and communication.
Things are currently going well, and we both share the duty of opening the blinds and taking out the trash. I just hope she stops blasting Taylor Swift in the mornings…
Mary-Lou Watkinson is a 20-year-old journalism senior. She has recently discovered a passion for design and coding, and she hopes to bring her talents to a big city once she graduates. When she is not working on homework or learning how to build a website, she is obsessing over Rick and Morty, hiking Paynes Prairie or reading a true-crime novel.