By Serrana Gay
Roommates. We all have them, and if you haven’t had one yet, chances are you will at some point. Whether your roommate is your best friend or someone you met a week ago at orientation, living with people is always a challenge.
I have lived with a whole cast of colorful characters: boyfriends, best friends, strangers, and strangers who have become friends. Each relationship has had its ups and downs and each relationship has taught me something different. But time and time again I always come back to the same thing: COMMUNICATION. Without it any relationship is destined to fail.
During my last year of college I fought with my best friend over who was going to vacuum the living room. We didn’t speak for a week. One comment from me led to a dismissal from her, which grew into a text message war, which exploded into a screaming argument and then total silence–endless, dragging silence. Days and days of silence.
Then one day I had an epiphany, a forehead slap moment. The reason we weren’t resolving anything was because we weren’t speaking. We had gotten into a vicious circle of non-communication. Of course, I thought. We were never going to fix anything if we didn’t speak.
That very afternoon I apologized. I told her I was upset because I felt like I was the only one that ever cleaned, and that I realized that I had played a part in making her upset. She said she felt like I was mothering her. We hugged and by the end of the conversation, we were laughing at our own stupidity.
What I took away from this experience is that 1) nine times out of ten, conflicts arise from misunderstanding or things left unsaid, and 2) it is better to confront things head-on than to stay mad.
I know this seems a little too easy, and that sometimes talking about your feelings can be difficult. But take it from someone who knows, without communication all relationships are doomed to fail. As life coach Tony Robbins so aptly puts it, “To effectively communicate we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
So I put it to you, dear readers, to be the different ones. Take up the challenge and share how you are feeling. Communicate. You will be surprised at how much more easily you will coexist with those you share the world with. And you just might find that the way you treat people will start to shape who you become, the person you are.