So, I go to a pretty affluent school—one of the top 50 ranked universities in the US. I have three roommates and we just can't seem to understand each other a lot of the time. I am from a background of immigrants and an inner city high school. Two of them come from affluent suburbs outside of Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Even after conversations, it's as though they simply are incapable of seeing the perspective of someone different than them. How can this change? So far, it seems like I need to either block them out and be miserable or conform.
Dear Top Fifty (I pronounce it “Fiddy,” just like when I talk to 50 Cent on my platinum Blackberry),
There’s only one thing to do when you don’t get along with your roommates:Steal a bedbug farm, crack it open, and let those varmints loose. Within a week, you’ll have your room to yourself. You’ll also have festering flesh wounds and pervasive sense of guilt, but who cares—all the pudding cups in the mini-fridge now belong to YOU.
If you don’t quite have the heart for petty theft, there are other options to consider. The one I’d suggest is one you seem to have already attempted: conversation. Different backgrounds shouldn’t preclude the possibility of friendship, or at the very least, civility. If you’ve tried numerous times to talk with your roomies and still can’t seem to find any common ground, you might just have a serious case of incompatibility. It sounds like you’ve seen your fair share of adversity and faced it with maturity and courage; perhaps your roommates can’t understand your background, or your character, because they haven’t had similar experiences. Or maybe they’re just snooty b*#%@*!$.
Either way, if you’ve given them an opportunity to connect with you and they don’t seem to be taking the bait, it may be time to accept that you won’t all be BFFs and bridesmaids at each others’ weddings. But even if you can’t build marshmallow forts and have 2 a.m. conversations about the hotness of Josh in 303B, it doesn’t mean you can’t at least live together in peace. Keep doing what you’re doing—making small talk, smiling, occasionally offering to share your secret supply of Reese’s cups—and they should respond in kind. If they don’t, it’s back to the bedbug plan.
And remember, just because your roommates aren’t kindred spirits doesn’t mean your campus is devoid of awesome potential pals. Try striking up conversations with other kids in your hall or dorm and chattin’ up the cutie who sits next to you in lab. A person as fabulous as yourself (I’m assuming you’re fabulous, and my assumptions are never wrong) will make friends in no time. You just have to put yourself out there and be confident, genuine, and willing to fall on your face a few times. When you do fall, don’t worry: Your experiences have given you the strength of character to pull yourself right back up, dust off your jeans, and keep on truckin’.
Good luck, Fiddy—and if you end up needing those bedbugs, I know a guy who knows a guy.
Do you have roommate issues?
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