Even if you’ve moved around a bit throughout your growing-up years, you’ve probably lived with family the whole time. Even if you’ve experienced changing family dynamics, most of the people with whom you’ve shared a home have probably been family . . . for better, or for worse. You may argue and annoy each other to death, but, at the end of the day, you’re pretty used to each other, and you make it work. You know that your parents will put up with you, no matter what. Well, you’re not at home anymore.
You’ll be sharing a room—possibly a much smaller room than you might have had all to yourself!—with one, two, or even three other individuals. All of you have different personalities, family backgrounds, and expectations. While you may have little, if any, control over the roommates that you get, you can determine the kind of roommate that you’ll be.
Maybe the “Golden Rule” sounds outdated, but it’s still a pretty good policy. Not only does the “do unto others” idea resonate with many world religions and ideologies, it also forms the basis of peaceful, happy homes. If you’re not convinced, think of the last sibling squabble that you had: Were those involved trying their best to please the other person? Probably not.
Having the attitude of “it’s my room, and I’ll do whatever I want,” will almost certainly cause friction. You need to remember: It’s someone else’s room, too. The recipe for harmony begins by considering the needs of those around you instead of simply doing whatever you want.
While simply quelling your own selfish tendencies is certainly a start, there’s a little more to this whole “Golden Rule” bit: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Here’s a paraphrase that I think carries the intention into practical life: “Do unto others as you wish they’d do unto you, if you were them,” or, more concisely: “Treat other people like they want to be treated.” Why is the clarification necessary? Simply put, people are individuals and have personal preferences that differ from your own. Perhaps you would actually enjoy having your roommate host a late-night party in your room, but if you take a few minutes to get to know your shy or super-studious roommate of yours, you’ll realize that his or her needs and desires differ from your own.
In addition to getting to know your roommates’ personal preferences, you should be mindful of their particular needs at certain times. For instance, if your roommate who normally embraces the more-the-merrier philosophy is currently plagued with a stomach bug or has a grad school interview tomorrow, it’s probably not going to go over well to use your room for pep band practice.
The cool part of all of this is that unless you end up with completely heartless people as roommates, your attempts to follow the Golden Rule will likely result in mutual respect, enabling you to enjoy your space more, anyway.