Living with a roommate is something every person should experience in their lifetime. Opportunities such as these — which test your boundaries, resourcefulness and patience — are unique to the college experience. I cannot think of any other situation in which placing two scared, stressed strangers in a shoebox-sized room and forcing them to coexist for eight months would be justified.
What I just described could sound like a nightmare. Many people have reservations about sharing a small room with someone they have never met. What if they steal my things? What if they invade my privacy? What if they are just plain weird? These questions are quite valid, but experiences surrounding these concerns, positive or negative, spark growth and maturity.
Your bedroom is a sacred place where you sleep, dress, do homework, watch Netflix, and it is usually the setting of most mental breakdowns. The sharing of this hallowed space forces you to share your most intimate moments with someone, whether you like it or not. Those who spend their freshman year in an apartment-style dorm get the luxuries of their own room and privacy. What they do not get is the experience of constantly having someone three feet away to show funny videos, fight over the mirror with or someone who is forced to know you through shared monotony of living in the same room.
Living with someone gives you a unique perspective on who they are as a person. If you are lucky enough to get close to your roommate, you will likely learn their life story within the first month of knowing each other. You'll see each other at your worst pretty quickly, and your bed head, morning breath and dirty laundry are exposed within the first night you share together.
In the minutes before bed, you fill the silence with stories told in the dark, listening to your roommate’s tales of their secrets, friend group drama and annoying little siblings, not looking at each other but staring at the ceiling you now share. That intense of a relationship in such a short amount of time builds a bond, unlike any high school friendship. At the risk of sounding like an excited 13-year-old girl, it is like a sleepover every night, which, if you are friends with your roommate, never gets old.
If you get a roommate you do not get along with, the worst-case scenario, I would imagine, would lead you to gain necessary coping skills. In order to cohabitate with someone you dislike, you must learn to compromise and “put yourself out there” in order to make social connections elsewhere. In the adult world, these traits are necessary to build relationships and deal with uncomfortable situations.
Learning to put your personal necessities aside in order for someone else to live comfortably is a lesson in selflessness and sacrifice. Contrary to popular belief, the world does not revolve around you. If you come home from a long day of classes and the only thing you want in life is a hot shower, and you open the door to find your roommate has decided the shower is the perfect place to listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack, you must accept the situation and wait for your turn to shower. Maybe situations like this do not happen to everyone, but everyone has their own version of this involuntary sacrifice, aiding personal growth whether you know it or not.
I have heard my fair share of roommate horror stories: My older brother was forced to sleep on a mattress on the ground under his roommate’s bed, my mom’s roommate spread lies about her until their resident mentor had to intervene and my roommate does a heinous Ariana Grande impression. However, all of my friends have loved their roommate experience so far. Maybe it is because USC has perfected the roommate matching algorithm, or maybe it is because our generation is a little more considerate than those who were roommates before us.
Either way, I love living with a roommate, and maybe we are still in the honeymoon phase of our living together, or maybe I am just sappy. Nevertheless, I know I will look back fondly on this time in my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.