I think I really hit the jackpot with my living situation this year.

I've known my roommate since eighth grade. We weren't always best friends, but we could share friendly smiles and conversations in the hallways at school. It wasn't until junior year of high school that we really clicked. We were nearly inseparable, and because of our great bond, we both grew as individuals from our relationship. As senior year rolled around, we both applied for the University of Oklahoma, and both got accepted. I knew in my gut that I wanted to share a dorm room with her freshman year, and upon (simultaneously) asking each other, we giddily filled out our housing applications and started picking out room colors. There was a slight hesitation; we both heard a lot of things about the destruction of friendship while sharing living spaces, and that best friends should stick to separate rooms to make the relationship last. And so begins my list of all the things that rooming with my best friend has taught me thus far:

1. Maturity

Like I mentioned before, my roommate and I faced a lot of mixed comments about our decision to room together in the dorms as best friends. I believe that when best friends room together but end up losing their relationship, it is born from a lack of maturity. I will openly say that my roommate and I have not always seen eye-to-eye, and we've been frustrated with each other before. It takes a lot of maturity to own up to our mistakes. We try to make it a habit to deal with our conflicts and have them resolved before the sun goes down. Let me tell, sometimes it's hard. It takes grace and the removal of pride to get us through tender times.

2. Honesty

This is a biggie. Being honest with each other can range anywhere from admitting, "Hey, I definitely ate the rest of your pretzel M&M;'s last night while you were gone" to "look... what you said the other day about me, that kind of hurt my feelings. Can we talk about it?" Both statements vary in their emotional depth, but we've had plenty of conversations dealing with both kinds of topics. Deceiving each other and keeping things in the dark can really hurt a friendship, and although admitting the truth can be a hard decision, it's no surprise that it helps cultivate trust.

3. Organization

When you see this word, you may be thinking of labeled boxes, folded clothes arranged by color, and a "place for everything with everything in its place," but I think there are a lot more intangible things that accompany this concept. If you can see how your roommate organizes their priorities, that tends to overlap with your living situations. If your roommate holds their relationships with other people in high regard and treats other people with respect and love, you definitely have a keeper. If you have someone who tends to prefer the frivolities and probably makes decisions that will harm their liver, you may need to have a chat. I think a certain degree of accountability can accompany organization too; to help one another uphold and maintain their priorities can create a strong bond of, guess what? That's right, honesty and maturity.

4. Joy

I cannot tell you the number of times I have found myself quite literally rolling on the floor and laughing. My roomie is hilarious and has the most contagious laugh. Not everyone is as gifted in the humorous sense, but you can just simply live joyfully. That alone can brighten anyone's day because I find joy in any form to spread quickly and easily. I've had some rough days and having a roommate who can make you smile and encourage you can make such a difference. It's also uplifting to see someone else, who despite not having the greatest of days, can still smile and look towards the future.

5. Selflessness

Anyone, not just a roommate, who is willing to put others' needs before there own is a great person to have by your side. I would hope that it is also influential in your own life. I can tell you from personal experience, that my roommate loves me through hard days, even when she has her own issues to deal with. I remember one night when I was having an especially rough week, my roomie walked in tired and sleepy but sacrificed her need for rest to stay up and talk to me and listen to what I was dealing with. That meant the world to me, and I hope to return the love that she shows me for the rest of my days.

I hope when you read this, your standards change. Living together is quite the learning experience, and if you live with someone I think it's safe to say that there is an expectation of comradery. If you're going to be living together for quite some time, then you deserve to enjoy it and build a great friendship. But, keep in mind that if you are holding someone to these standards, you need to hold yourself to the same code. You cannot expect someone to represent all of these qualities if you do not live them out yourself. I am beyond blessed that I get the privilege of living with someone who exudes these qualities beyond what I deserve, and I encourage you to seek someone to live with who will challenge you beyond the restrictions of who gets to control the AC and bathroom counter space.