By Lexy Benedict
My mom always said “you never know someone until you live with them.”
Like most first-year students, I had extremely high expectations for my first year of university. I couldn’t see anything going wrong.
I got into my first choice school, accepted into my dream program and best of all, I had leased out my first condo with some of my best friends. Coming from the small town of Stouffville, living in the city was something that I always dreamed of.
But living in Toronto with my best friends was not how I expected it to be.
Since my roommates and I were friends throughout high school, I was positive that we knew everything about each other and that nothing would change between us. I knew living with roommates was going to be different, but I don’t think I prepared myself enough for all the change that I was about to experience.
Signing the lease had to be one of the greatest feelings. It was excited to be living with people I trusted and knew inside out. I was going to be independent, while I could still go back home to my parents whenever I wanted. It meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about catching the GO train everyday.
Most importantly, it felt good to know that I had my own space, where I felt safe and comfortable in. A place to relax and go to when the stress of school would become too much.
Before moving into the condo, my roommates and I had so many ideas about what it would be like to live with each other. We planned on eating dinner together every night, working out, walking to class and watching movies together. We expected it to be like a never ending sleepover, that was attached to a two year lease contract.
But living in this condo turned out to be more stressful than school itself.
Everything seemed to be a issue, whether it was cleaning, cooking, noise or even having other friends over. Everything we thought we would get along about, turned into a problem. The open and honest friends I once had turned into people who kept secrets and lied about where they were going.
The issues ranged from being as minor as deciding who would take out the garbage, to major issues of lying about who was coming over. One roommate would twist the rules. We couldn’t bring guys over, but she could have her boyfriend over. I wouldn’t say anything about it because I was scared of starting a huge fight. Some of my roommates turned out to be completely different people. It almost felt like I was living with strangers.
By the end of first semester, the condo that was supposed to be a safe place and a stress-free environment, turned out to be the one place I never wanted to be in. Me and my roommates wouldn’t be open about what bothered us because we were scared of the other roommate. The drama was too much for me to handle and I was no longer comfortable in my own space.
I started looking for any reason to go home to my parents. The stress caused by my roommates took over my life and it made me feel helpless and lonely. I was constantly distracted, upset and I started to put the drama before my assignments and homework.
It is now the beginning of second semester and I commute to and from Stouffville. I realized that living in this condo just wasn’t worth all the stress it had caused me.
I’m happier than ever living back at home, and I actually enjoy commuting. It’s nice to have one hour and twenty minutes to unwind and reflect on my day. I enjoy having my own room again, because I feel like it’s my space. I feel safe, comfortable and that there’s no way anyone can take that away from me. I also feel like my relationships with my ex-roommates are better.
This experience taught me some important life lessons. I realized that it is extremely important to have a place that you can call your own and where you can reflect on your day. I learned a lot about myself and what I can and can’t handle. Because I felt like a stranger in my own home, I was always tense and on edge. I also realized that people can surprise you, even when you think you know everything about them.
So it turns out my mom was right. You don’t really know someone until you live with them, and you don’t really know yourself until you live with other people.