I grew up with my little sister, and we shared everything—belongings, a bathroom, our bedroom, everything.

Well, I got my own room when I turned fifteen (or, as she’d say, “I got MY own room when I was thirteen”—because perspective matters sometimes, especially if she’s reading this).

Growing up with a roommate is a struggle. No matter what, you share the blame for when something is missing. Or something is broken. Or something is dirty. It’s like parents take the safe option and just blame everyone for everything.

Like many siblings, we wanted to be separate but equal. We didn’t want to look or dress the same, but we always wanted what the other had. We learned compromise (to a certain extent—we still steal each other’s clothes).

If you’ve never had that kind of experience, though (or if you were one of those really persuasive children who wheedled their way out of the whole sharing-rooms experience), the college roommate situation may have hit you as a bit of a shock. Living with a stranger is well…strange, along with all of the other college adjustments. At the end of the day, sometimes even the most experienced roommates can’t live together. But this is rare.

Let’s look at this issue from the broad life angle (because everything in college appears to have that kind of spin—it’s maddening but true). People’s personalities are going to clash in both college roommate situations and in life. And all of those things you learned when you were a first grader are still in play. You shouldn’t have to change who you are for anyone. That’s not what I’m suggesting here. I’m suggesting a wonderfully creative way of getting along with those clash-personality types.

We all have things we’re really good at, right? And we all have things we’re not so good at. I’m a messy person. The state of my room tends to mirror the state of my mind at the moment. Finals week…well, sometimes I like to pretend that the place I live isn’t really my room and that I actually live somewhere else. So, I schedule a little block of time each week—right in-between morning workout and my first class—to clean my room a little bit. I put books back on the shelf and maybe do a little bit of laundry.

Of course, I’m a messy person, right? So cleaning takes a little more effort for me than it does for some other people. Let’s go back to strengths. I like music. I like having fun. So, when I clean, there’s usually extremely loud dance-type music in the background.

I regret nothing.

So that’s how I live with being a messy person. Notice that I didn’t change anything about myself, but I figured out how to make it so that I can live with someone else without being ostracized. Of course, the way that you apply this to your own life depends on how much you can bend yourself and the world to each other’s whims. If I lived with people who didn’t like music, I’d figure out something else to do. Maybe something that involved a trampoline.

The possibilities, my friends, are endless.

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