Getting Along With Your Roommates
Living with roommates isn’t easy. It’s one of the first things we discover as college freshmen. Sometimes even before we discover the Sports Center or Varsity chocolate chip cookies.
Since coming to PCC, I’ve had eight roommates total.
Each one was very different from the other—and all of them were different from me.
Different isn’t always a bad thing—in fact, different can be good! My sophomore year, one of my roommates became my best friend, and we’ve been rooming together ever since. We get along incredibly well, not only because of our similarities but also largely because of our differences.
Rooming with my best friend these last few years has taught me several lessons about living peaceably with people who don’t think and act like I do—or how I want them to.
Unfortunately, living peaceably with your roommates doesn’t have its own perfect formula with a three-step, failproof process that will solve all of your problems. It's really a state of mind that affects your actions.
So, what is a peaceable state of mind? What does living peaceably really look like?
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from living with roommates is how important it is to be forgiving.
Forgive, and forgive often—if not constantly.
Don’t just forgive your roommates when they ask for it. Most of the time, they are completely oblivious to the fact they’ve offended or inconvenienced you. Forgive them in your heart anyway.
I’ve been there. I’ve lain in bed many times, trying to get a few hours of sleep before starting an early morning, wishing my roommates away.
Did I try to justify getting angry? Yes.
But as I lay there feeling sorry for myself, the Lord would speak to me with a still, small voice. He reminded me that harboring anger in my heart would only make me miserable. But a heart of forgiveness soothes the soul.
Forgiving someone makes his offenses seem small.
When I would forgive my roommates in my heart, I actually stopped caring whether or not I would get my much-needed sleep. It no longer seemed important. Four years of no sleep? Yes, I could live with that. It was far better than four years of harbored bitterness.
Instead of anger and frustration, I felt peace.
Forgiving others helps make a peaceable living, but so does asking for forgiveness. In pride, this aspect of forgiveness is often neglected.
I’ve had to apologize to my roommates for inconveniencing them, and on some occasions for having displayed a wrong attitude. Recognizing my own flaws helps me to accept that my roommates aren’t perfect either, and makes me more willing to forgive them.
We all know the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But the truth of this principle is that it often goes unrewarded.
Maybe you do all those things you want your roommates to do—you keep your room clean and tidy, you step out to talk on the phone, you don’t eat strong-smelling foods in the room, you don’t use your hair-dryer after prayer group—but no one else seems to give you the same respect.
You’re tired and frustrated.
You don’t want to be considerate anymore.
If you’re feeling this way, don’t despair! Be respectful toward others, even to those who don’t respect you in return. It builds character.
“Character” may not seem like a great reward, since it doesn't exactly make dorm life any easier. But even though your roommates may not appreciate it, the rest of the world will. Your employers will notice your patience. A boyfriend or girlfriend will notice your kindness.
And most importantly, God will notice. If for no one else, continue to be considerate toward your roommates for Him, to be pleasing in His sight.
So continue to be flexible. Be willing to learn. Be patient and kind. Don’t do it for a reward—do it because it’s right.
“I’m going to bed,” my roommate announces.
“Okay, goodnight,” I reply, as I turn off my bed lamp.
This is an example of a regular exchange between my best friend and I. We communicate our intents openly, so that all of our roommates know what we want, and can have an opportunity to respond. Sometimes we have to work around each other’s schedules (which we wouldn’t know about if we didn’t communicate!), but that’s okay. Discussing our plans and adapting them is far better than keeping silent and doing our own thing at the risk of creating a problem.
And if there is a problem—don’t harbor it in your heart. Solve it! You don’t have to be best friends with your roommates to talk to them.
It takes some courage to address a problem, yes. But if you care about something to the extent that it becomes a problem, it’s worth taking a little time and energy to resolve it.
But communication doesn’t always have to be problem-solving!
You can have fun with your roommates. You can share burdens with them. Talk to your roommates—get to know them. Don’t just live in the same room with them. Be their friend. Pray with them.
These principles aren’t new concepts. We know that forgiveness, consideration, and communication are important principles in any relationship. But they‘re often overlooked.
Putting these principles into practice has helped me to live peaceably with my roommates. Comment below and tell us what specific things have improved your relationship with your roommates!33