Similar to new mothers, high school graduates receive A LOT of advice. Most of this advice is unwarranted and full of age-old cliches (Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, anyone?). Reflecting back, the best advice I received upon venturing off to college was from my mother (go figure!). She advised me on the importance of living in a dorm with other girls for at least my first year away at school. I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about this idea. Being the oldest of three kids, I was pretty used to things being my way or the highway. However, per usual, mother knew best. She knew that I was in need of a reality check. I needed to learn how to live with others, in an environment where I wasn’t always going to be “the boss.”
I only lived with roommates during my first year at school. To be honest, that’s all my Type A personality could handle without having a total mental breakdown. However, now that I look back on that year, it was crucial to my development as a functioning adult. I may have earned a fancy degree in my four years at college, but the experience of dorm-living was far more valuable than my diploma ever will be.
Moms with kids heading off to college, my advice is to encourage them to live with others! Chances are their school isn’t going to offer a Marriage and Babies 101 course. This is as good as it gets!
Here are the 10 ways my college roommates prepared me for marriage and babies…
- Bye Bye Personal Space – It’s no secret that moms rarely get to use the bathroom alone. By the time I became a mom, I was a pro at sharing my precious bathroom time. Have you ever shared a bathroom with three women? They’re worse than toddlers when it comes to respecting your privacy. Take it from me.
- Making Compromises – I may have cringed at the vintage records that were plastered on our dorm room walls, but I’m sure my roommates were equally as thrilled about my collection of Audrey Hepburn posters. Compromise is a learned art form. Silly as it sounds, this prepared me for making compromises with my husband today.
- Temper Tantrums – Think your threenager is bad? Ever try reasoning with a 19-year-old, tantrum-throwing girl? Enough said.
- Making Fun out of Frugality – Pinching pennies is always more fun when you have a friend to do it with. I discovered my love for thrift shopping and couponing during that first year of college. Together, my roommates and I realized that there are more ways to save money than by sticking to a ramen-only diet.
- Dealing with Death – One of my roommates lost a close family member that year. At only 18, I was fortunate enough to not experience a loss of my own yet. Being witness to her strength throughout that time prepared me for dealing with difficult times in my own family.
- Difficult Conversations – Put 4 young women from different backgrounds together and boy, oh boy will you have a recipe for conflict. As uncomfortable as it may have been at the time, I’m grateful for the arguments which led to difficult conversations. They taught me how to be a good listener and communicator with my husband and kids.
- Caring for the Sick – Although it may be little things, like running to Walgreens to pick up Tylenol for a roommate, living with others prepares you for taking care of other people. Learning to take on these small selfless acts taught me how to put others before myself – something that every mother does on a day-to-day basis.
- Sharing Cultures and Recipes – By far one of the coolest things about living with roommates is learning about their experiences and backgrounds. As different as we all were, my roommates and I all enjoyed cooking and sharing our family recipes with each other. Without those girls, I wouldn’t even know how to cook (or pronounce!) quinoa. My family thanks them for that!
- Creating Adventures – Being poor college students, my roommates and I learned to turn the simplest of events into adventures. This is a trait that never left me and I’d like to think that I’m a better mother for it. I can pretty much make anything fun, just ask my two-year-old who accompanied me on a grocery store scavenger hunt yesterday!
- Learning to Hug it Out – There seemed to always be conflict in that dorm; whether it was about someone coming home too late or one of us eating the last of the Oreos. I learned that if you want to skip that difficult conversation (see #6) altogether, hugging it out usually solved everything. A hug is beautiful thing!
What life lessons did your college roommates teach you?