rooming with a bestie.
Hey! I hope the last few weeks of August are treating you well. The sun has been shining brighter than ever and I am absolutely loving the crisp mornings…I bid farewell to the best summer of my life, and greet a new school year. Bring on fall, warm sweaters, and chai tea lattes.
Before I get ahead of myself day dreaming about the fall season, I thought it appropriate to reflect on the school year coming up. I leave for school in 6 days and could not be more excited. I am a girl of constant reflection, and think back to this time of the year last year, two and even three years ago. Three years ago I was prepping for my first day at TWU…and now I’m onto year 4! Crazy how time flies.
At the end of my first year of uni, my newly-made best friend and I decided to room together. We went through quite the rollercoaster of a year and this past year has been one of rebuilding a friendship that was absolutely shredded. My roommate at the time, Emily (Em), was amazingly willing when I asked her, “hey, do you want to share our experience?” She jumped at the chance to retell our story. This post is the start of what I would like to think of as the soul of this blog; the purpose and the drive. We ended up at a point in our relationship where we wanted to call it quits. Walk out. No take backs. We were done with each other. Little did we know that our Father was at work the entire time, fashioning something we could only ever reflect on and learn from afterwards.
So, without keeping you from the good stuff, here is Emily.
This is our story.
We met in our first year of university, on O-day.
K: I thought Em was scary, intimidating when I first met her. She had (still does) good fashion sense! I thought she was a second year. During O-week, Em went up on stage during a presentation and was interviewed by three nice looking boys. I was SO jealous and legitimately wish I had the guts to go up on stage, never mind look a boy in the eyes.
E: I thought Katie was a bit weird at first. She was definitely more on the energetic side of life. I thought Katie would be the “flirt” of the dorm since she got a guys number of the first night of university. I was impressed by that.
K: Despite our first impressions we connected really well in our first year. Our dorm was a combination of girls who were randomly thrown together but worked SO well. We had little things in common…we bonded over sharing clothes (score!), English class (we spent two and a half hours in the Norma basement on the carpet floor studying for my Cavalli 103 final), being goofballs and being keen on being involved with the dorm. It came easy and we don’t really remember how it happened because it was very natural.
At the end of our first year we knew we wanted to room together, but weren’t sure what that looked like. A good friend in our dorm was going to be an RA in Fraser Hall, and we jumped at the chance to live with her and support her in her “RA-ship”.
E: We were each others “go-to” for talking, prayer, texting, etc. We expected second year to be a mirror image of our first year, except that we would be sharing a place. We texted and snap chatted over the summer (which Katie abused her privilege of) and talked for hours about what our room would look like and what awesome plans we had. We were ready.
K: Come O-week, we moved in and starting setting up our room. We decided to combine our closets and didn’t think much in regards to the importance of space. What was mine was Emily’s - we went to IKEA and bought decorations together, we set stuff up together and made it “our” space.
School began, and I entered into a relationship, where the space then became an extension of that relationship. I would bring my boyfriend back to our room (during dorm hours!) and would use the space as my own, forgetting about Emily and the idea that maybe she might want to spend alone or quiet time in the space.
E: My frustrations began during Fort Week, when it became difficult to stop comparing our second year dorm with our first year dorm. Our dorm had a different dynamic and I put pressure on the girls to perform to the standards of our first year. Despite the fact that I knew I was doing it, I still did it. Being a second year in a dorm is very different than first year. We had to learn how to make new friends in second year. I put pressure on our friendship to be the same it was the year before.
K: Through that, I neglected hearing Em out on these things. I remember during Fort Week receiving a text saying “wait for me!” for one of the bigger events, and simply brushed it off without a thought. Emily was trying to make an effort to be a part of the dorm, but I forgot to include her.
Differences aside, we proceeded to October. Em had a friend come and stay with us in our dorm for 2 weeks. At first, this seemed like a good idea - I even had a cot I could provide! I met her, she was wonderful and everything went off without a hitch. We had three beds in a row (if you’ve ever been in Fraser Hall, you’ll know what we’re talking about) and the first few nights were great.
E: Having a guest over also seemed like a good idea - I was SO excited about having my friend there. I didn’t think anything of the rooming situation or of Katie’s feelings. This is when I began to treat the room as “my” space. If I was in class, my friend would go and spend time in our room. I didn’t check with her, and the room became an expendable place…simply a room instead of a living place.
K: By the sixth or seventh day, I had enough. I would come home from practice or class and would find a third roommate, someone I hadn’t signed up to live with. There was a lot of stuff in our room in general and having a third roommate with boarding gear and two bags was a lot to handle.
After Em’s friend left, this was the start of our miscommunication - we were so good at it in first year, and didn’t see the need to review the little things. I struggle with confrontation in general, and so going up to Emily and telling her my feelings was VERY scary. I also fell victim to easy manipulation, not anything that Emily was doing on purpose, but simply because she is comfortable with confrontation. We would try to have conversations, and I would leave feeling “bullied” and she simply left in agreement.
E: I don’t mind confrontation. In fact, I’m abnormally comfortable with it. I don’t see it as necessary, but as soon as it is, let’s get it done and over with! I wanted to talk to Katie about what was going on, but it didn’t seem like she was interested. It frustrated me to no end. If you don’t tell someone you’re mad then they have little right to be in the first place. She just wasn’t communicating.
K: We bottled a lot up inside and vented to other people outside of our relationship - a big no no. It became almost drama-esque and soon our entire dorm knew what was going on. Eventually, the bottled up anger and frustration translated into anger over very small things - clothes on the floor, a hair straightener left out, dirt on the carpet, stuff on the other person’s desk, windows left open, doors left locked or unlocked…the list goes on. We became extremely critical of each other to the point where everything we did was overly-passive. We went out of our way to do things that we knew would bug each other…I purposely locked the door when I knew Em didn’t have her key. Em brought the same friend back and let her into our room, fully intending to “mark her territory”.
Em: I remember one time letting my sister borrow one of Katie’s sweaters, overlooking the internal conflict going between us. Busted. About 5 minutes later, I received a text from Katie informing me that it was in fact NOT ok. Later that day, I returned from class to my entire wardrobe piled high on my bed… apparently our closet sharing days were over.
K: We found time to talk with each other after dorm meeting one night. We thought we had resolved everything and the dust had settled, but as it turns out, we never made an intentional change. A week later we easily slipped back into our normal patterns. Me, inviting my boyfriend over every.single.day, leaving the room unavailable for Em to rest or even study. Em, never cleaning up her side of the room.
E: Before leaving for Christmas, we sat down with our RA from first year (GO JELAINE) and current RA (go Anna!) and gave our all. We told each other our hearts, what we had gone through and all of our thoughts. I went into the conversation as “confrontation Emily”, relieved that something was finally happening. We could talk!
K: I entered this conversation with a sense of entitlement and pride…like Em owed me something. However, at the end of it, I left with what I thought was peace.
Fast forward to spring of 2015, and still, we weren’t making intentional changes. Early February came and I became very very ill - and didn’t feel the need to tell Em. She came in one day, angry, and we began a screaming conversation. Remember the screaming matches you had with your parents when you were a kid? Yeah, it was like that. I’ve never verbally abused someone EVER in my life, and that was the first and last time. I literally screamed at her from the short distance of 2.5 metres…accusing her of bullying me in conversation, not caring and neglecting the care of our small room. I swore at her, and felt as if I had stayed in the room for any longer than I did, I would have thrown something at her…hard. I had a built up anger inside me, something not from God.
E: I came into the room that night, extremely irritated. I saw Katie napping, but didn’t care about it. I was done with everything…the drama, the passive aggression. It was exhausting! I remember screaming back at her, telling her how she didn’t care about our friendship anymore.
In reality, we were both going through hell - Katie ended up in the hospital later that night (let me clarify...NOT from any of my doing!) and I was experiencing my own battles. It was no surprise from the way that we had left things that Katie hadn’t told me she was going to the hospital. But I was so angry that when I found out from other girls in the dorm, I felt like she intentionally was trying to sabotage me with the dorm.
K: For the entirety of the week, we somehow found time to yell at each other more, and make each others’ lives a living hell. Finally, Em moved out.
E: One night, after Katie went to sleep, I moved into my friend’s room because it was enough. My birthday was that week and my room was the last thing that I wanted to deal with.
K: Me, not enjoying confrontation at all, did the only thing I felt comfortable doing - I enlisted our Resident Director and scheduled a meeting (without Em’s knowledge or input) to finally put our problems to rest.
E: I remember getting the text from Katie about our meeting and feeling hurt. In my mind, it didn’t make sense why we needed him. My confrontation comfortable self didn’t see why we couldn’t just resolve it ourselves. To add to my anger, I missed a class because of it.
K: Again, I entered into this meeting with a sense of entitlement. I had won the fight…I had someone backing me up! Little did I know that our RD was prepared to stand unbiased to either of us. He encouraged us to seek out empathy and grace for each other…something I knew very little about.
E: I went into the conversation on the offensive, prepared to tell Katie everything that she had ever done wrong. But he didn’t have us talk about our issues, but instead we made lists of uncompromising issues that we were not willing to bend on. As soon as we started talking out of spite, he would stop us and redirect. Something it turns out we really needed.
K: I didn’t like someone stopping me mid-sentence. Again, I was filled with an un-Godly amount of anger and hatred. It stemmed from the situation at hand but also from a lot of other crap that I was running through outside of the situation. I wanted to rat on Em, to tell her how much she was a horrible roommate. At the end of all of it, he had us say whether or not we wanted to continue living together. My answer was a clear no.
E: I said yes.
K: I left feeling like I had been heard, but also attacked in a way. I had an idea, my own idea, of how the entire conversation would go. I had already arranged my new roommate across the hall and was fully prepared to make the switch. I felt like Em was relentless on my case…why did she care so much about remaining roommates? In my mind it was easier to break up.
E: Despite everything that had happened that past year, I remembered the Katie and Emily of first year, and I wasn’t prepared to let go of that. To me, the only thing that was keeping us in relation with each other was living together, and that if we split, then we would be leaving it like that, there would be no chance for resolution, and our friendship would be over. I was honestly shocked that Katie was willing to give up. However, after the monster I had been, I’m not at all surprised. Much to my surprise, our Resident Director agreed with me, and Katie was trapped (again.)
K: The final resolution was a simple direction. Go and talk. Talk over everything, and talk out of a heart of grace and mercy. I still wasn’t sure what that looked like and to be honest I was really tired of everything. I met Em in the upstairs study room of Douglas Hall (#thuglas) and was ready to get an earful. Instead, she gave me grace. An astounding amount of it, something I believe to this day to be something from God. She didn’t want to give up, and apparently neither did He.
E: I was so nervous going into our big conversation. Katie had said “no.” I was prepared for what had happened so many times before… entering into conversation with good intentions, but it quickly turning against both of us. Something was different about this conversation though. Katie didn’t seem as interested in what we had done to each other, but more focused on how we could move forward. We began to figure out how to be friends, despite our differences. The conversation was full of love, and by the end of it we were laughing. We were on our way to being back.
K: Fast forward to present day 2016. Right now, Em and I are sitting in the Lelem’ cafe in Fort Langley, enjoying a cool summer night and laughing and giggling over our psychotic adventures. Since that conversation, where we made a God-driven decision to restore our friendship, we have honestly seen very little of each other. I left from second year in what I thought was a good place, only to have my world crushed a few months later (post to come soon on this). Em was there though, and was one of the first people I messaged. We didn’t speak over the summer, and saw each other maybe twice over the school year. To be honest, things were a little uncertain. In January of 2016, Em left for a semester in Ottawa and I didn’t see her until April. However, in February I made the choice to pursue the same program she was taking in Ontario. God renewed my need for Em. I started to text her lots…and I mean a lot! I often forget about the whole time difference thing, and sometimes I would text her about books or applications or courses at 10pm and get a response that night! (1am her time).
E: Through this whole journey, I have seen such an incredible reflection of God’s love through Katie. It still amazes me that after everything that we went through, we are able to be as close as ever. Katie is back to being someone who challenges me, someone that I can confide in, and someone who always encourages me to pursue God more than anything else. Looking back, I wouldn’t have traded that second year for anything. Yes, it was incredibly tough at the time. But its through those situations that God’s presence is so evident and He is able to do some of His best work. I firmly believe that Katie and I would not be where we are today had it not been for God’s hand to be surrounding our friendship.
K: I am a firm believer that time heals. Ecclesiastes 3:3 reads “a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer…” (this verse legit just keeps going). Em and I are just getting started.
With that being said, we wanted to collaborate and share some of our well-learned ideas so that YOU can learn from our mistakes and perhaps not make them yourself. We wouldn’t trade our time together for anything, and so the fruit of our time together is to share this experience and our knowledge with you. We come from a feminine point of view, but these are applicable to anyone, guys too (or at least we think :D).
At TWU or uni in general, finding a roommate can seem like a daunting task. In first year, you either select a pre-chosen roommate (say, a preview weekend mate or a BFF from high school) OR you are placed with a student that you don’t know (Katie’s case in her first year). You fill out a questionnaire and are placed with someone according to your habits, likes and dislikes and other things. This is a good system and great for you if this works…sometimes the best of friends are formed by God’s hand in roommate placement.
IF you are hoping to choose a roommate for university, or life in general, here are some tips and considerations we came up with:
- What are your expectations with your roommate?
- Do you see yourself spending a large amount of time together every week?
- Are your unexpectations unfair to your roommate?
- Em and I thought our second year would look exactly like our first, but even better. It was hard for us to accept that it was going to be different. Changing expectations is a hard thing to do but a VERY good challenge.
- Have you talked about what is really important to you, in regards to living?
- Ideas: cleanliness, alone time, personal space, study time, morning/night person?, sleep patterns, how much “stuff” or “gear”/clothes are you bringing into your dorm room, how big is your dorm room? - BE REALISTIC WITH THESE! It can be easy to compromise on these because your desire to be with that person is greater than your desire to live out a healthy life.
- Write down the things you are not willing to bend on - be realistic that when things get busy and life is stressful…extend grace….lots of grace.
- Are you willing to have tough conversations?
- Are you known to be passive? Are you known to be confrontational? Talk about this before things get busy.
- Talk about things as they come up - call them out! Don’t wait until they build and burst.
- Recognize that friendships change, let them.
- You know what they say about making assumptions….
But Emily and Katie...I want to live with my BFF…In some cases it might work out GREAT! Go for it! However, you need to be mighty intentional and recognize that effort and hard work goes into these relationships.
LIVING WITH YOUR BFF:
- You don’t want to cause any potential conflict, so you don’t want to mention it. Recognize that if they ARE your best friend, they probably won’t care if you bring it up, and would actually appreciate you bringing it up. NOT talking about it is MORE damaging than letting it build.
- Put faith into your relationship - they’re your friend and roommate for a reason, so give them a little bit of credit. Trust them to do tasks, believe in them and encourage them.
- Spend QUALITY TIME with them! We found it easy since we were living together to NOT spend time together because we simply assumed time spent in our room would be a mirror image of time outside, but it’s not. It’s different.
- Friends fight. And that’s okay. It’s how you react to those situations that show your character and the strength of your relationship.
- Don’t give up no matter how hard it gets. Believe in your relationship.
We honestly hope that you don’t have to experience what we did in your roommate situation. Because in case you haven’t gotten the hint, those situations are not easy! But the thing is, that if God is at the centre of your relationship, then these things don’t have to happen. Some times we put too much pressure on a person to deliver a friendship that perhaps only God can give us. And sometimes we need a reminder that we are no in control of a situation, but that we need to rely on God.
emily & katie.
DISCLAIMER: NO giggles were lost in the writing of this piece.