Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
You simply can’t live with everyone you meet. I learned that the hard way, unfortunately.
Going into my freshman year, I found my roommate through the freshman Facebook page that was available to all Temple University accepted students. The girl I spoke to only talked to me for about a week before I committed to rooming with her for 10 months. One week’s worth of communication is not enough information to decide what your living situation will look like for an entire year. But this girl was a pusher and convinced me to not only be her roommate but be the first out of all of my home friends to commit to college simply because she wanted to get one of the best dorm rooms at school.
I’ve never had roommates before. I have a brother, but that doesn’t really count. I have my own room and bathroom at home, and the space I occupied was mine and not to be shared with anyone else in my family. That was a very hard adjustment when moving into a dorm room. You have to learn how to share your space and respect each other’s boundaries.
When I first started speaking to my future roommate, we discussed what we were like to live with. She told me that she was a little messy, and I was too, so I didn’t mind as long as it didn’t become overwhelming. Well, I have to say that I think this girl had a different definition of “a little” messy. When we first moved in, everything was clean and organized. But as the weeks rolled by, her pile of dirty clothes began to grow and grow. The leftover food she ate would find itself stale on her desk or somewhere on the floor next to her bed. Crumbs from her food would trail along the floor and into the common area. And our bathroom was absolutely atrocious. She would stuff her dirty clothes behind the door and would never pick up a sponge to clean the bathroom. I was the one who was constantly cleaning up her mess.
Somehow, she convinced me to live with her again during my sophomore year, along with three other girls she introduced me to. These girls and I became a group over the course of my freshman year, but towards the end, we began to fall apart. A lot of things happened to me regarding health and social situations that took a huge mental toll on my college experience. These events ultimately led to the loss of four friendships in a matter of months because these girls felt that I was too much drama to handle, even though everything that occurred was entirely out of my control.
I went into my sophomore year being friends with two of the four girls. The other two I had falling outs with over the summer, so my apartment was already going to be an uncomfortable environment from the start. It wasn’t until the beginning of my second semester that the other two girls decided to turn against me. They gave me no signals of anything being wrong between us. We all went out together every weekend and hung out all the time. Nothing seemed off. But clearly something was to them. When the apartment turned to four against one, I decided I needed to move out for the sake of my mental health. The girls I was living with were toxic.
They thrived on my failure. Two of the girls attempted to have me blacklisted from sorority rush simply because they don’t like me. Luckily, they failed and I’m happily a part of an organization of girls completely separate from the other girls’ respective sororities. I’m living in a new apartment where my room is twice the size of my old room, and I have my own bathroom. And the girls I’m currently living with are so kind and smart… and they have a dog! My life is finally turning around because I’m surrounding myself with the right people and not jumping into living situations without thinking ahead.
If you’re considering living with someone, take the time to get to know them. You don’t have to like your roommate, but you do have to tolerate how they live within your environment. Also, don’t rely on your roommates to be your only sources of friendship. There are plenty of opportunities to meet people beyond a college dorm room. Clubs, Greek life, volunteer work, student jobs, or even your classes are all amazing opportunities to get involved with new people on your campus. The people I found through these outlets have been some of the most supportive people I’ve met here at school.
Never again will I trust someone based off of a Facebook page. You have to go out in the world and meet people in person to know who they really are and what they can bring into your life so long as it’s positive.
Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.
More on Mental Health on Campus: