Teamwork truly does make the dream work. Here are some personal life lessons of the trials and tribulations of being a good roommate and how your roommate should be treating you.
I’ve gone through a couple of roommates as I navigate adulthood and living on my own. However, it wasn’t until my past two roommates that I learned what a good roommate should be. Without the bad experiences, I would not have appreciated how good I have it now! So to my ex-roomies out there, thank you!
When I started my college journey, I was in a dorm flat with four other girls in a very tiny space. The most challenging part about it was not the drama, the noise, the people coming over, etc.; it was the level of passive aggression and lack of communication that would drive me insane. Leaving little passive notes around the house will not cut it either. I must admit, I did it a couple of times myself.
Later on, I moved into my first apartment with who I thought was a friend but instead turned out to be a lesson. Living with a best friend is hard, but I now know that it is do-able, and your best friends will know how to live with you, communicate and solve problems well because you guys are best friends. However, my fair warning is to honestly understand who your best friend is. I’m not about to give a lesson on friendship, but I know that any person who truly loves and cares for you will be happy to live with you and happy to work anything out. That’s all I’ll say on the matter.
That next year, I moved into my second apartment with an actual angel sent from the heavens. No, she wasn’t clean. She actually left lots of cold pizza, and chicken nuggets sitting around and loved to stumble in late after her journeys around the city. Yet, she was the person who made me love living with another human. After my first roommate experience, I was too nervous to try again in fear of the nightmares from my last roommate. I thought maybe it would be better if I just did it all alone, but that would mean my wallet would cry, and I think I would too after a few days of isolation. Some people can do it, and I applaud them and quite frankly would love to know their secret! But if you’re like me, I cannot live alone in my thoughts all the time. I need human interaction and someone to talk to at the end of the day. AKA a boyfriend, but since I don’t have that, I have my roomie, and I am beyond perfectly fine with that. So my message here is that sharing a home with someone does not concern the circumstances around it or the size of the home you’re living in. It is the person you’re sharing your space with that matters. They will be the ones to help you and lift you up. And if you’re like me in my first experience, they can lead you to sink and drown. People have that effect on people. So please be gentle and kind always.
Then, the Coronavirus struck, and we had to leave our apartment back home. It was unfortunate breaking up with the best roommate ever. However, when one door closes, another one opens. After spending most of the quarantine back home with my entire family, I realized that it was time to look for another apartment and get the heck out of there. Love you, fam, but it’s a no from me. At this time, I called on one of my best friends, Meg, to move in together. Maybe you know her? Check out the about page. At first, I thought perhaps since we’re so attached by the hip that it would be overwhelming, or maybe we would start fighting, and I would lose her. Obviously, that wasn’t the case at all. Here we are, sitting next to each other at 9 am, with our wiener dog between us, blogging about home decor. It doesn’t get any more genuine and sweeter than that, come on. We even struck it viral on Tik Tok with a video of our apartment tour. I guess people like our decorating style!
So what was the point of that whole rant? I wanted to share with you that I have experienced some pretty bad lows while living with someone I thought was a best friend. I also have experienced the highest of the highs with the people I loved the most. All the lessons in between have led me to the extraordinary living situation I currently have now. I hope that you are all able to find a roommate who treats you right and vice-versa.
Here are some of the greatest lessons I learned along the way:
Communication is key. Talk to your roommate about anything that bothers you. Allow them to tell you what bothers them as well. Let them know when people are coming over and allow them the freedom of doing the same.
Food is key. Food is a way of life. My roommate and I eat every meal together. Quarantine and the NYC winter will do that to ya! Now, I am definitely not saying to eat all your meals together. I am speaking to discuss what food can be shared and what can’t. If you’re getting groceries together, split down the middle! It’ll make life much more comfortable, especially if you’re eating the same food. Cooking together is definitely a fantastic bonding experience. I would suggest trying to do that with your roommate if you’re looking for a fun way to live. It makes it feel like a little happy family!
Know what makes them tick. Talk about your likes, dislikes, and how you want to be treated as a roommate and a friend. If something makes you uncomfortable (like inviting a complete foreign stranger from tinder to stay with you for a week), share that. If you want to ask someone over for the night or for the week, clarify that it is OK with both you and your roommate. Do not allow them to pressure you. Do not allow them to make you feel uncomfortable in your own home. Do not make them feel uncomfortable in their own home. Feeling like a stranger in your own little space is the saddest feeling ever, and I wish it upon no one.
Allow for silence. You do not need to fill any voids. If it’s quiet in the house, let it be. Allow the peace to take you. It’s not awkward unless you make it awkward. Silence allows you to think and focus on the little thoughts going on in your head.
Allow for noise. Sometimes you’re going to be in bed, and your roommate has people over. Or, if you’re like my roommate, Meg, you have to deal with the fact that your roomie is a wannabe DJ. We sometimes gotta suck it up for the people we care about. Sacrifice is a beautiful virtue, people. Your real friends will recognize the sacrifices you make for them.
Do your own thing. As best friends, you always are looking to hang out with each other. I really have no issue with this because I adore my best friends and love to still be in their presence, but I totally understand the need to take time to do you. It can get overwhelming.
Your roommate is not you. If you are OCD like me, this is the perfect opportunity to learn that it is OK to have a little mess. This is also a warning to my OCD people: no one is as clean as we are. By nature, we are obsessive and like things a certain way. Most people are not like that. If you know that you are a clean freak, you need to control it and allow for the mess to happen. If you expect a clean home all the time when you’re living with someone else, good luck. This is when you need to discuss what the responsibilities are in the household. If you’re the neat nelly, you’re going to probably want to do the cleaning. Maybe they can cook a meal for the two of you while you clean. It is all about balance. My past roommate & current one are not the cleanest ladies you’ll meet. But they make up for it in other ways.
Discuss responsibilities: cleaning the dishes, taking out the trash, watching the dog, deciding who gets the remote control, buying food, buying cleaning supplies, buying coffee pods, etc. My roommate is the yin to my yang, and I would not be able to do it without her. Even as an OCD person, there is no need to spread yourself thin when you’re living with another human who is just as capable as you. Talk about how you can share the burdens and what you would like the house to run like.
Do not pass judgment. Just because your roommate possibly doesn’t live up to your standards of cleanliness or whatever it might be, don’t judge them. Everyone is different, raised differently, and has their own way of living their lives. The uniqueness of how people work is part of being human. And hey, maybe you can learn a new habit from them that actually benefits your life so much better than how you were doing it before.
Do not try to change a person. Just like passing judgment, we tend to try to fix people into molds of ourselves, thank you, our dear subconscious. Allow them to be them. They are your friends, and you love them for being them, right?
Have fun! Most importantly, if you live with a loyal best friend, you are kind of living everyone else’s dream life. Best friends are the people who know you the best. Best friends are the ones who will cry with you and take care of you when you’re down or ill. They are also the ones who share some of the most beautiful experiences life has to offer. Remember that before you were roommates, you were best friends. Never allow the living situation or any situation really to change that.
The ultimate lesson for me has been:
The more love you give, the more love you’ll get.