noun; a person occupying the same apartment or house as another
Keep in mind, roommates expect cooperation and limited privacy. Also keep in mind that your roommates live with you and will be seeing you on a daily basis, perhaps after a shitty day of work or school. Consider what you’re signing up for. That’s about 60% of your week right there sleeping, eating and showering in a shared premise with someone who you possibly have never met before. They become a part of your everyday life whether you like it or not.
Generally, we meet up with friends for snippets at a time at social events, happy hours, or a couple of outdoor hiking and camping trips here there. Our relationships with friends are based on common interests whereas our relationships with roommates are based on the style of living. Several of us most probably couldn’t live with our best friends due to their different living styles. For instance, I couldn’t have ever lived with my best friend due to her lack of organization and cleanliness. But we can FaceTime and chit chat our way into ridiculously irrelevant tangents for hours at a time.
Living with roommates from Airbnb and Craigslist has taught me a great deal about compromising time and space as well as adopting a perfect balance between being considerate and demanding.
My first move happened last year into a one bedroom apartment in Cupertino, CA with two women from India in their mid twenties to early thirties working for tech companies.
I recall my mother warning me earlier on, “You never truly know a person until you live with them. Never fall for the first impression.” Living with people requires tolerance and consideration of their preferences as well. However, the consequences of playing “considerate” were quite severe. Within a month into my new place, I found myself taking up chores given by my roommate who constantly complained about the unidentifiable microscopic hairs lying on the bathroom floor. I found myself throwing out their trash, organizing their shoes on the rack, and washing an enormous pile of dishes every other day. There were days I considered making an appointment with a psychotherapist to test for O.C.D because I was disillusioned into thinking that maybe perhaps I was a bit of a neat freak. And to cope with it all, I vacuumed my anxieties away on clean carpet.
Living with roommates taught me how to truly compromise. With time, I learned how to compromise my unmatchable standards of cleanliness. I adapted to my roommates’ ways of organization and schedules. Here’s a simple and honest way to explain what exactly compromise requires. Compromise occurs when someone else doesn’t compromise. Because my roommate refused to compromise to shut the fan off at night during winter, I relocated my furniture into our empty and door-less dining room and slept there. My showers were reduced from an hour to fifteen minutes in the morning to let my roommate shower for an hour in the morning. Over the summer during my marketing internship in San Francisco, my Airbnb roommate showered at the public gym to accommodate my half hour shower before we both went to work in the morning. Compromise meant accepting there will be days with a full sink of dirty dishes and cosmetics overfilling bathroom cabinets. Compromise meant sleeping later if my roommates were making too much noise. Compromise means adaptation to the maximum level.
Another point to consider when sharing a place is home rule enforcement. Make sure chores are equally split among one another and voice your preferences when necessary. If your roommate can’t throw out the trash or wash dishes during his/her turn, don’t do it for them. It’s not your responsibility. This could also be a bit tedious to do, but when it comes to claiming personal property, always label your cosmetic products and food shelves inside the pantry and fridge. It prevents roommates from accidentally consuming your food.
Another crucial aspect of living with roommates is making sure they’re socially and mentally healthy. Although it isn’t your responsibility to ensure they’re okay, their energies of positivity and negativity will impact the atmosphere of your home as well as your personal well being.
One of my roommates struggled with insomnia for months after her father passed away. Her laptop screen blared brightly under her bed covers as she binge watched Game of Thrones for hours on end from midnight to sunrise. One night, I heard her wailing over the phone to her boyfriend’s coworker as she accused her of flirting with her boyfriend. My roommate later aggressively insisted that his coworker relocate her working space to another floor away from her boyfriend. Sometimes her boyfriend would drop off her meds at our apartment around 3 AM when she wasn’t home those nights. On other days, she openly verbally abused her boyfriend with disturbing and derogatory comments over the phone.
I still ask myself to this day, if I had stepped in to assist in resolving her issues by speaking with her or taking her out, how different would my experiences living with her would have been?
It’s always important to build some form of connection with your roommates even if it’s minuscule. If you and your roommates possess polar opposite personalities, try maintaining a decent amount of communication by having a few conversations of small daily a few times per week. It’s essential to go out with your roommates once a month to a sports game, live show, concert, downtown bar, or hiking sites to make sure you have a context of who they are are outside of the home.
Here’s a prime example of healthy and happy living with cooperative roommates. Currently, I reside in a HackerHome Plug n Play in Mountain View with four tech dudes. On a weekly basis, we either play cognitively challenging board games on Friday, watch a Sci-Fi movie on Saturday night, or hold Yoga sessions on Sunday mornings. We don’t bond by gaging common interests. We bond by creating shared memories we could later look back on to cherish. We collectively cultivate a positive atmosphere at home. Those are roommates.