The Introvert's Guide to Having a Roommate
When I first met my roommate freshman year, I think it was immediately apparent to both of us that we had an introvert/extrovert relationship brewing in that sweaty dorm room. This was evidenced by the fact that I said hi, and she said hey, and then I (stupidly) said hi again, unfamiliar as I was with the basics of human interaction.
Don’t get me wrong—we got along great. But there was lots of trial and error as we both struggled to occupy the same closet-sized living space. Fortunately, if you’re heading to college in a few weeks and you’re nervous about the whole living-with-a-stranger aspect of it all, you might benefit from my experience.
First, recognize the differences between the two of you. If your roommate is an extrovert, she probably views the dorm as an entertainment center/place to break between social events, while most introverts see the dorm as their safe place to relax and recharge. I could not for the life of me understand why my roommate chose to pack seven or eight people into the dorm every single Friday and Saturday night (unless it was her plan to slowly kill me), but then I realized we just had different ideas of what constituted a fun weekend. Hers involved lots of people; mine usually involved pajamas, Twix bars, and Netflix viewings of Sherlock. That being said…
Remember… it’s your room, too. Don’t feel like you can’t assert yourself. If you need some alone time, say so. Tell your roommate that you “just need the room tonight” (bonus points if you wink suggestively and point the finger-gun), and if she’s reasonable, she’ll be willing to take her extroverted activities elsewhere. But don’t forget…
It’s also her room. Asserting yourself is all fine and dandy, but don’t impose a regime of terror on the place. I had a friend whose roommate kicked us out so frequently that we were all too scared to hang out there. Sometimes your roommate’s going to want to have friends over, and that’s cool. Try to find the balance between being a tyrant and being a pushover.
Don’t ignore your roommate. You might just be super shy, but do try to have a casual chatting relationship with your roommate, even if you’re not best friends. If she’s a full-fledged extrovert, she may not understand why she’s getting the silent treatment and might even conclude that you don’t like her. So “how’s it going?” every now and again could go a long way.
If you're willing to be flexible, you can overlook a lot of things. Unless your roommate, like, single-handedly sets fire to your half of the room and slays your pet goldfish, you can probably a) talk most things out, or b) let them go. (Also, don’t be afraid to get the RA involved if there’s a major snafu in roommate paradise. They go through rigorous training for this stuff. I’m not sure about fire-starting and pet-slaying, but that’s probably covered in a handbook somewhere.)
It’s not as bad as it seems. One weekend my roommate asked if she could have some friends stay over, and I woke up the next morning to find that our floor had become a minefield of random college students in sleeping bags. It was impossible to leave the room without stepping on someone, so I resigned myself to sitting there waiting for everyone else to wake up. Only one other dude was awake; he, too, was gazing wistfully at the door. We made eye contact—I was prepared for it to be strange and awkward—but then he pointed wordlessly to my Team Starkid poster and mouthed, “Totally awesome.” I then excitedly blurted out, "YOU LIKE TEAM STARKID," thereby waking everyone up and ruining the moment completely. The point, I think, is that the moment happened, and also that I was then able to go to the bathroom.
Final notes: YOU CAN DO THIS. It's a lot to spring on you, I know—suddenly you have to deal with an unfamiliar area and new classes and weird dining hall food and those notoriously fat campus squirrels, in addition to a stranger (or MULTIPLE strangers) you're expected to live with whose personality may not exactly be compatible with yours. But you can handle it. I know you can. Just leave the goldfish at home. (You never know.)
Are you the introvert roomie or the extrovert roomie? Got any survival tips for roommate newbies?