I’m in my first year of university At Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto and I’m starting to get these vibes that living with a bunch of your friends is a lot harder than it looks. My first semester went great; I was in residence with my best friend from my hometown and no real problems arose. We lived in a 10×15 room and the cafeteria food tasted like fish-flavoured, soggy corn flakes. We had a great room, though it was small; we loved it, people appreciated it and we always had people there filled with loads of fun. The problem arose when we had this bright idea to move into an apartment.
Within days of the thought even being mentioned there we were moving into an apartment with two more guys from my hometown and someone we just recently met at school. We moved in our stuff, and it looked good. Everything we needed was there and not only that, we did it with style. We went on our first grocery shop of the month and we had our food; things were great.
It is now three weeks later, and I feel as if I’m going to strangle all my hometown friends one by one. I’ve figured out now that it’s one thing to live with a friend when you can walk next door and hang out with fifteen other people. It’s another thing to walk next door and see the same four people over and over again in an almost cyclic manner. Either I feel like I’m doing dishes ninety percent of the time or there is a lot more dishes then I’m allowing myself to see. One guy had five towels in the bathroom at once. They are all trying to set me up with this girl that I’m just not interested in and I’ve seen the garbage up to my neck in boxes. To top it off, they all have girlfriends that I see almost as much as they do.
Maybe it’s just my fault that I’m getting irritated so quick, or maybe it’s all of them gaining up on me— trying to succeed in causing a nervous breakdown, or maybe I just need a girlfriend. I don’t know what it is, but I gather that I have to change a few things so I don’t blow a fuse. I want to share with those of you that are in a similar position, suggestions on how to survive life with your friends.
[GET AWAY] Sometimes we just need time by ourselves. Being in a house with the same four guys (and their girlfriends), it becomes kind of tense and hard to get some time alone. Go for a half hour walk every once in a while by yourself and spend some time with God. Or try hanging out with friends that aren’t your roommates. I found that I always seemed to only hang out with them and I didn’t give much time to other friends outside of our house. When we go and spend some time with other friends it allows for some variety. The key here is to get away. We need some time to unwind and figure things out on our own and not have the same people around every corner.
[GET INVOLVED] Do something rather than school. Live a little. Help out at a church, play on a sports team or join a worship team. You need to be active outside of normal routine to survive. Volunteer once a week or every two weeks. Get a job. Even if it’s only a few hours a week, it gets you out of the pressure of your roommates.
[MEND THE WOUNDS] Almost every night there is a different argument at our house about something pathetic. Don’t go to sleep on your anger. Sure, you may wake up in the morning and feel like everything is fine, but really it needs to be dealt with. If you have an argument, settle it then and there. Don’t let it get buried, it will only come back to haunt you later on.
[GET TOGETHER] Instead of getting together with your roommates to watch a movie, why not try a bible study? It’s so easy for friends to grow on the physical level, but for the true friendships to grow deeper it will take some spiritual work. Pray with each other, study together and discuss God, Life and Progressive Culture. Talk about the current Relevant article for the day. Allow the boundaries of your friendship to reach out and grasp the spiritual side of life. By doing this, patience and love will grow for each other.
[RESPECT] Give your roommates the room they need. If they go into a room and shut the door, don’t follow them in. If they are watching a movie with their girlfriend, go into your room and shut the door. A house with five guys in it isn’t exactly my idea of privacy, so you have to give respect to your roommates so they can make the most out of the privacy that they are trying to attain. Sometimes you can’t just treat them like your friend; sometimes you have to be a little more respectful than that. Jokes are fun, and so is playful insulting, but trust me, if you’re already having a bad day, it’s the last thing you want to hear.
[HUMILITY] This is the one that I struggle with the most. For some reason I think that I do all the cleaning, cooking and other work around the house. What I fail to see is everyone else’s contributions. It’s easy to make my one-hour of work feel like five hours when the others are watching a movie. Christ came as a servant, and so should we, even if it’s to our best friends, though those are usually the hardest ones to serve. Ask God to give you patience and to humble you to the position where He wants you. Even if you do more than everyone else, treat it as an opportunity to serve. Don’t point out how much you do more than the others, just help wherever you can and keep the peace.
Living with your friends can be amazing, but like any relationship, it takes work. If you want the pros of living with your friends then you have to be willing to work for it. If you want to make it through your school year with the same friends that you entered in with, than I suggest that you put the necessary amount of work into those relationships that matter.