Ugh, Roommates.

As summer comes to an end, college students begin to prepare for those long 15 weeks spent studying, stressing over exams, and 11:59 pm deadlines. Those who dorm and don’t have the opportunity to have a single might have to add having roommates to their list of college struggles.

Living with someone you do not know is never effortless, and that individual possibly won’t make it easy on you just because you live in a tiny room together on campus and now are expected to be good friends. As 17 to 22-year-olds who are still grappling to find their identities and find their place in the world, being thrust into a situation where you now have to live with someone you have to learn to trust, do not know, or has toxic behaviors is challenging for anyone to endure. Luckily, there are some fantastic roommates out there that you can connect to, form an everlasting bond with and enjoy those fun college moments with.

My experiences as a student who had a dorm at Mercy College were a mixture of many emotions, good and bad. For every moment of toxic behavior, every hateful word that was spewed my way, and for every moment I had to walk away to make my mother proud, I am immensely grateful for because it gave a look into the real world and what I had to prepare myself to deal with once college was over.

Those “remember forever” moments with some of my roommates makes me believe that those silly experiences were never going to be for naught and I just had to go through some tough, seemingly at that time, painful moments to get a chance to look at myself deeper and understand how to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.

My Freshman year was a year filled with moments I will forever cherish, but as life would have it, I experienced two roommates that truly tested my ability to withstand. They were the catalyst that forced me into a position of growth and understanding others and myself. My first roommate I ever had was one of the kindest and gifted people I was ever blessed enough to meet, but within two weeks of living with her, Mercy moved me from the hotel, and I started to dorm on campus, which is where everything went downhill for me.

My second roommate was someone I could only describe as toxic and bitter towards the world for their own decisions in life and downfalls. They projected a lot, but this person had been my friend for a long time and was the main reason I chose to leave the college I attended to come to Mercy College. The first few weeks were great, and I enjoyed my life as a new, independent college student.

As I began to step out of my comfort zone, make new friends, and get over my intense overthinking, it all came crashing down. My first few months on campus ended with almost getting into a physical altercation with my roommate, whom I thought was my friend, over terrible, belittling words spewed and her uncalled for, childish actions. I was not going to classes we had previously picked out together. I was staying home or in other’s rooms because I didn’t want to be around her and feel that toxic energy in the air and eventually, I was forced by Mercy College to move my things out of our room because the ignoring and attempting to be the bigger person had boiled over into rage. This experience taught me how to control my anger and how to control myself in triggering situations.

My third roommate was afraid of me before she even met me because of things my previous roommate lied to her about. If it wasn’t for one of the friends I had made on campus, who was approached by this girl to ask questions about me, she was probably going to be sleeping with pepper spray under her pillow. We got over that, though, and eventually became acquaintances. We shared many personal feelings and moments with each other, we laughed together, and her mom even baked me cookies once.

The only issue she and I had was racism, which was a big deal because I was so far left, and she was so far right. Her views were based on her naivety and lack of experience with people of color, and mine was based on the color of my skin and the racism I often saw around me. My experience with her taught me how to listen and understand others, no matter what their views are. She was a fantastic person who was very naive to the world and the struggles that others faced, but she made me not want to move into a single anymore.

Once I entered my Sophomore year, I got the chance to dorm with four amazing, brilliant young women. Every moment was not perfect, and I faced racism again, but with my growth and willingness to be a better person, I was able to withstand, and I came out stronger with new friends. One of the girls, I am now beyond proud to call my best friend, truly helped me transform my life and see myself differently.

Living with new people is never easy, and not every experience will be like mine, but I do encourage every one of you to grow with every experience with a roommate and in college. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because you can’t always change your idea of messed up or wrong. Get to know your new roommate, set up a cleaning schedule, and form your own rules from the beginning. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but you should be able to live in your own space comfortably if nothing else. Take every good, bad, and in-between moment as a chance to reflect and grow with yourself because stepping into independence is about growing and understanding that.

Good luck!