It’s 10:30 pm. I’m on my bed watching "Parks and Rec" in my favorite pair of sweatpants from 8th grade. It’s been a long day trying to balance school work with extra-circulars, while simultaneously trying to figure out what I’m going to actually do with my life. Also, the guy I’ve been talking to has left me on 'read' from the previous afternoon. Fantastic.
Right when I’m about to succumb to the storm cloud that’s been looming over me for the past 20-something hours, my roommate walks in yelling, “WAKE UP LET’S GO GET MCDONALD'S!” Sporting my artifact of a pair of sweats and a fuzzy hat, we make the walk to Green Street from our dorm to drown our sorrows in chicken McNuggets and milkshakes.
Occasions like these are not uncommon for the two weirdos in Room 18. Why? I can proudly say that my roommate is not only someone I share a very small space with, but my partner-in-crime, McDonald’s enthusiast, and most importantly my best friend. Hard to believe now that we got comments telling us it would not last.
I met Ann senior year of high school. While we were not by any standards close friends, we were always each other’s partners if we were in the same class and would occasionally grab a coffee during our lunch periods, shamelessly gushing over our cute student teacher. When we were talking about accepting our admission to the University of Illinois one day, the topic of being roommates popped up. Immediately, I agreed.
While it’s an unspoken rule that one should never room with their best friend, it would be comforting to be living with a familiar face instead of a complete stranger.
Especially during the first few days, it would be nice to have someone to do things with, like going to the bookstore or scoping out our first frat parties. Feeling light with having the weight of finding a roommate off my shoulders, I excitedly told my friends the news. Their reactions were less than comforting.
“Are you sure you want to be roommates?”
“Wouldn’t it be better to room with someone you don’t know?” “Do you think you guys will kill each other?” All of these questions started to fuel my doubt. Maybe we wouldn’t end up being compatible roommates. Maybe we would end up killing each other. There really was no telling what would happen and the odds of getting randomly assigned a roommate that I would not be compatible with was also pretty high. Why risk that when Ann and I already got along well?
Ultimately, I decided not to listen to any of them and pulled the trigger. Turned out to be one the few decisions I have not regretted during my first year at the University of Illinois.
Oftentimes, for many first-year students, having a roommate is the first time anyone has actually experienced what it’s like to share a space (correction: a very small space) with another person, more or less with a stranger. By already knowing your roommate going to college, living with them could pose a whole other obstacle, ultimately having the potential to ruin a friendship before it hasn’t even started.
Living with someone allows you to see people in a completely different light, much different than what you would have seen them during class or outside of school. In addition, sharing a space adds a whole other dynamic to the situation which can be stressful, especially if you’re just getting to know someone. All of these were very valid concerns since both of us were strangers to the dorm life.
However, I can safely say that it has turned out for the best.
Having a roommate double as one of your best friends is such a blessing in disguise.
There’s a comfort in having someone living with you that genuinely cares about your well-being that makes the whole first-year experience less daunting. College can be lonely sometimes, despite being constantly surrounded by people and having someone to come back to at the end of the day to shamelessly vent to is something I will miss next year.
Now, I’m not saying that our road to being roommates was all smooth sailing; we did have our share of growing pains like nearly every roommate. Those were tricky, but they forced us to communicate and be upfront with each other which ultimately made our friendship stronger. Every roommate, whether they are friends or not, should take time to be upfront with each other in order to establish a mutual understanding of one another.
All in all, if you’re considering rooming with a friend or someone you’ve already met, I encourage you to do it. It will give you a chance to strengthen a previous relationship and find opportunities to grow as individuals. I found a friend for life with my roommate, Ann and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.