College x
overcrowded room

Most college students have one roommate, but what about having two … in the same bedroom?

Someone’s bedroom is more than just the place where they sleeps at night. It’s the space where people can be themselves in any way imaginable. It’s the space where one can escape from the terrors of the world. It’s the space where friends come together to talk for hours into the night. But what happens when you’re living with a roommate? Better yet, what happens when you’re living with two roommates … in the same bedroom? Well, it’s safe to say that you’re in an overcrowded room.

As humans, especially college students, it’s important to spend time with the most influential person who dictates your every thought, opinion and goal: yourself. Some people like to take a drive with no destination while others like to hide out in their bedroom.

Whichever way you prefer, dedicating a block of time just for you and you alone is crucial when you’re constantly surrounded by roommates and peers. Even the most outgoing extroverts need their alone time. Finding that much-needed personal space can seem impossible when you live with more than one roommate, but trust me when I say, it’s totally not.

Whether you’re choosing to avoid your roommates or you just can’t get enough of them, here’s three ways to find your own space in an overcrowded room. I can’t promise that these three techniques will solve all your roommate troubles, but I can say they’ll guide you along the right path to discovering boundaries and organizing that alone time you’re desperate to find.

1. Respect

Respect is one of the many moral rules most children are taught in preschool. Without it, people wouldn’t know how to successfully get along in a coherent way. When it comes to college roommates, it’s a fundamental law to abide by.

Within the first few weeks of getting to know your two roommates, the word “respect” should pop up in at least a handful of conversations. Establishing what it means to respect each other’s space, belongings, feelings and ideas can drastically improve the dynamic of your living situation.

To understand “respect,” it’s important to know what “disrespect” can look like. Here’s a fictional yet highly possible example of what could occur in any apartment.

Ana is studying diligently for her first chemistry exam of the semester. She’s getting into the “study groove” (you know exactly what I’m talking about) until one of her roommates walks in. No big deal — after all, it’s her room too. But then the roommate starts blasting A$AP Rocky on her Bluetooth speaker.

“Maybe I should just go to the library,” Ana says to herself. “Ugh, I don’t want to get up now … I think I can drown her music out by using my earbuds and listening to my playlist.”

Ana quickly turns to her go-to study music. Suddenly, A$AP Rocky’s heavy bass starts to slowly creep beneath her earbuds interrupting her soothing sounds.

Let’s pause here. Who’s acting disrespectful in this situation? If you guessed the roommate who walked in, you’re correct. But wait, there’s more.

Then Ana’s second roommate strolls into the room. She tries shouting over the loud rap music but to no avail. Ana’s bedroom went from a peaceful study space to a bustling madhouse in less than five minutes. It’s clear that there’s a lack of respect looming around this overcrowded room, so it’s time to bring in the next step: communication.

2. Communication

Communication is another key to living with a number of roommates. It’s important to vocalize any concerns you’re having when it comes to boundaries because, at the end of the day, your roommates can’t read your mind. If you never give your opinions any justice, then your roommates will assume you’re the most laid-back soul they know.

Respect and communication actually go hand-in-hand. There’s definitely a right and wrong way of conveying your feelings to your mates. Looking back at our example, let’s see how Ana confronted her oblivious roomies.

She takes out her earbuds, hops out of bed and goes over to the A$AP Rocky fan.

“Hey girl, do you mind turning your music down? I’m trying to study for an important exam, and I’d appreciate if I could get some quiet time right now,” Ana says.

Her roommate is caught off guard. Ana never complained about her music before. She figured that Ana could focus regardless of the background noise.

“Yeah … sure thing,” her roommate says as she silences her speaker. She glances over at the second roommate and rolls her eyes.

“And you,” Ana says to the second roommate, “Please stop shouting. I know her music was really loud, but do you mind taking your conversation to the living room. I seriously need to study now.”

Wow, that was awkward. But it’s easy for uncomfortable situations to arise when there’s a lack of communication. Misunderstandings are bound to take hold of a tense living arrangement when no one knows how everyone else feels. Don’t be afraid to state any necessary ground rules. Who knows, maybe your roommates have similar concerns.

3. Timing

Timing is the third variable in the overcrowded room equation. It’s the last part of orchestrating a logical plan of action for you and your roommates. Having a decent idea of your roommates’ schedules will help you see how to avoid stepping on someone’s toes without feeling like you’re always walking on eggshells.

My roommates and I typically know when each person attends class. We wrote down our daily class schedules to get an idea of the best opportunities to find personal time in our bedroom. Perhaps Ana and her roommates should’ve tried that tactic. For now, let’s peek into Ana’s ordeal one last time.

Ana’s roommate barged into the room at the wrong time and in the wrong way (but that goes back to respect). Her roommate should’ve recognized that Ana needed to absorb herself into her textbooks.

The second roommate’s timing and communication weren’t the best either. She could’ve solved the entire situation as a third-party member, but instead she indulged by competing with the music’s volume.

And we can’t forget about Ana’s role in this mess. She’s not entirely innocent. If she communicated to her roommates that she needed the appropriate quiet place long before she began studying, then her roommates would’ve known not to disturb her. Instead, Ana’s study time countered her roommates’ energetic time.

So, what have we learned about living in an overcrowded room? Respect each other’s space by communicating to one another reasonable ground rules in order to efficiently establish appropriate times for personal space in your bedroom. Also, don’t be like Ana or her roommates.

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