Bad Roommate Series: The Awkward Roommate
There are three basic levels of social awkwardness:
- There’s “I struggle with leaving voice mails and operating automatic soap dispensers” awkward;
- There’s “I know 800 facts about narwhals and have a Zoobooks collection” awkward;
- And there’s “I have a serious disorder that makes it difficult for me to participate normally in life” awkward.
We all fall somewhere among these levels of awkwardness, except for the select few of us who are actually superhuman and have never pushed a door that clearly said “Pull.”
This type of bad roommate, the awkward roommate, is near and dear to my heart because my own level of awkwardness resonates well with all other forms of awkwardness. The other day, I was trying to describe my awkwardness to one of my friends, and I put it this way: Being awkward is like being stuck in an elevator with another person after you have accidentally forgotten to press the button for your floor, only you can never leave, and you are trapped with that person for the rest of your existence.
It’s awkward enough to live with a stranger for the first time, and if your new roommate is awkward, that just adds insult to injury. Just know that the struggle you are going through to talk to your awkward roommate is probably twice as hard for them.
From a former awkward roommate herself, here are some tips for how you can make the most out of your living arrangement.
- When you are speaking with your roommate, make sure your body language is open and engaging. You may be able to speak with your other friends while scrolling through iFunny, but your awkward roommate may secretly take offense to this and think you do not like him or her even though you are just absentmindedly looking at GIFs of cats.
- Encourage your roommate to get involved with other people on your floor or with organizations on campus. Awkward people have trouble instigating conversations sometimes, even though they have thoughtful, important and hilarious things to say. You can initiate some of that conversation by just introducing your roommate to other people or by giving them information about specific clubs. NOTE: Just because your roommate is awkward does not mean he belongs in the Animae club or the Glee club. Awkward people flourish in all types of organizations.
- Respect your roommate’s “introvert recharge time.” A lot of awkward people are also self-proclaimed introverts, so while you may be able to jump from class to the gym to social time with friends to a sporting event to a group study session to a party, your roommate may need time to decompress after a long day of social obligations. If you see your roommate taking time for themselves by playing “League of Legends” or reading, do not think anything is wrong. Your roommate is not broken. She is just recharging energy supplies.
- Remember that awkward people are still people. Just because they struggle with social situations does not mean they have no feelings. Resist the urge to rant about your roommate’s awkwardness and instead just remind yourself over and over again that your roommate is trying their best to be cool and fit in just like you.
Making the adjustment to college may be a more difficult transition for your awkward roommate than for you. You are not required to be your roommate’s best friend, but you should still be somewhat involved in his life. If your roommate starts behaving strangely or withdraws completely from you, he or she may be showing signs of depression or another mental illness.
If you think your roommate may be depressed, please talk to them and tell your RA so help can be made available for your roommate. The RAs at Angelo State University go through extensive mental health training once a year and know how to talk and listen to people. They can make sure that your roommate gets the help needed at the University Health Clinic and Counseling Services, or, if it’s less serious, can just be a friend to your roommate.
College is all about learning how to interact with all sorts of people. Having an awkward roommate may give you the perfect opportunity to practice talking to and associating with different types of people. Awkward people have a different way of viewing the world, and living with an awkward person can benefit you by giving you insight into this alternative view.