A friend’s niece, Alicia, is getting ready to start college. She’s pretty, and an athlete, which makes life so. much. better. when on campus. Or that is how I remember it. I had limited athletic abilities and the freshman 15 took on new meaning when mine turned to 25 and then 30, all within the first year. I swear, I’d put one macaroni and cheese macaroni in my mouth and I was up 2 pounds before sundown. Part of me wants to warn Alicia about the freshman 15, but why ruin all the potential weight gain opportunities for her? She’s an athlete, she’ll be fine. I think.
Listening to her talk about the dorm room set-up brings back memories. Alicia will be in a suite with 5 other girls. They will share a community space and a bathroom. There will be two girls to a room. She is “so excited” to meet her suite mates. She thinks “it’s going to be camp every day of the week.” She’s looking forward to “being lifelong friends.” “Besties.” Alicia is so nice. Staring at her brilliant white smile and curling long lashes over those gorgeous blue eyes is making me want to grab her and say “it’s not like that!”
I was really lucky to have always had great roommates. Unfortunately I was a witness to a not so great rooming arrangement. Being away from home in a new environment with numerous new freedoms can turn some people into warped distortions of their true self. I want to believe they’re not aware of the bizarre personality shift. Verdict is still out if “Beng” – I’m using this name in order to protect those involved (it’s the Romanian gypsy version of Satan) – became crazy or always was crazy.
Beng did a lot of very bad things. From stealing items of value, to wearing others clothes without permission, to breaking things, to bringing guests back to stay the night, to showing zero respect for quiet during study hour, and on and on.
The best advice I can give if you find yourself with a bad roommate, do not sit by in silence.
- Talk it out. And I mean face-to-face. See if you can come to an understanding before it gets out of control or you take it to the next level. And keep the facts clean and to the point. Try not to embellish the problem or overstate the issue.
- Texting is not the way to fix the problem. I know. I text too. It’s a problem for me. I’m just not confrontational. But this can be very passive aggressive and that is not what you want when trying to resolve conflict.
- Keep off Social Media. For goodness sake, do not share the problems on twitter or Facebook or anything else where there are people engaging that have nothing to do with the issue. Do not add other people to the conversation. Bad idea. Bad, bad idea.
- Resident agent. If you live on campus, and talking it through isn’t working, talk to your RA. These angels of the dorms are generally pretty good at mediating the problem. If it’s still not getting resolved, most universities have a system to review this type of problem and help find a solution.
In the end, you are at College to learn. Alicia will have lots of learning moments. And I am being sincere when I write that I hope she doesn’t find a Beng in the crew of new besties.