I was coming into IU from out of state, with no possibility of weekend trips home, no preparation for the unpredictable Indiana weather and no friends. So I felt pressured to find the perfect roommate. I had heard what I now know to be a myth: that your roommate had the power to make or break your freshman year. So I felt beyond lucky to find Lucy* through the Facebook IU Class of 2018 page, who was in the same desperate online-dating roommate search as me. We started sending pages of messages back and forth daily, starting from spring break and going until the day I heard her voice in the hall outside our room and just knew it was her. Our conversations consisted of family, boys, life goals and how our teachers wrote eroticas – y’know, the standard stuff. I explicitly recall telling my hometown friends how I already had a best friend waiting for me in Bloomington, even though we had never met.
However, that little belief didn’t totally hold true. Once we were in Bloomington, we just didn’t click. I still believe Lucy is a great person, with immense kindness and an enjoyable sense of humor, but sometimes people just don’t mesh. Maybe we were both just a bit too quiet, or even – as oddly as it sounds – we were just too similar. When we were together in person we just didn’t seem to have much to talk about. In the first couple months of school, I found myself in a friend group, made of my roommate and two girls down the hall, that I just did not belong in. I must stress again that these were great girls, I have no bad words to say about them, but they were just not meant to be my college best friends.
An upperclassman scared me when I was told that I had to find a place to live and have signed a lease by the end of September (which is totally false!) There was also a point when I broke down from homesickness for the first time that year. I realized I hadn’t found my best friends / future roomies in college yet, I had no one that I would want to go to if I needed comforting and I had no one to stay up late at night with laughing about boys. I was terrified that I wouldn’t find that someone. For the first time I wondering if going out of state was the right decision (I’ll write a separate article about this, but spoiler alert: one of the best decisions of my life!). Don’t worry though, this freshman year has a happy ending!
Just because your roommate isn’t your best friend, you can find your group elsewhere. This upcoming year I will be living in a house with five other friends and honestly I could not be more excited. My tips are to put yourself out there, get involved and work past any nerves.
In my case, there was a retreat, coincidentally for WeAreIU. An all-day adventure outdoors with a group of people I had never met before. I was terrified. I don’t know what I feared the most, maybe being awkward? But I worked past those nerves, laced up my sneakers and went outside to be picked up by another girl going. At the retreat I met another freshman, Macy, who was as equally close to not going that day. But because we both decided to go to this random retreat, we met each other, and now I’m happy to call her one of my best friends at IU. It still freaks us out to think about how easily one of us could have decided to not go, resulting in us never meeting.
I also recommend to meet friends of friends. Some people are the type to keep their friend groups separate while others like to introduce all their friends to each other. If you have friends of the latter type, take that opportunity! Through Macy, I met her roommate Amber, who soon became my “ride or die.” (Honestly, huge shoutout to WeAreIU because I probably wouldn’t have my two closest friends in Bloomington if it weren’t for that retreat!)
Last tip from how I found my best friends: put forth the effort to hang out with others. That girl you talked to once in your organization? Ask her if she wants to grab dinner. That guy you met during orientation? Maybe he wants to get together now that you two are back on campus. Shoot him a text. Even message those girls you talked with on Facebook that you almost became roommates with (that’s how I met one of my best friends and now future housemates).
You might still be disappointed that your freshman roommate didn’t turn out to be best friend, that’s understandable. I had friends who found it really awkward that my roommate and I just kind of coexisted without talking in the room. I was fine with the situation (as long as we weren’t fighting). However, if the situation is unbearable for you, do know you have the option of switching.
I've heard some roommate horror stories, you don't want to let your situation dictate the success of your freshman year. If you are in a similar experience to mine, I recommend finding friends in your hall. For some, all of their best friends came from their dorm, and it could be the same for you. Having a friend who lives in the same hall as you will be beneficial for many reasons.
Even if your roommate is your best friend, I still wholeheartedly push the same tips. It’s important to branch out in college, to find a wide variety of friends in different circles and to not feel confined in one friend group. College is the perfect time to meet new people - that may be my favorite aspect of college actually – so use this time to find your true friends. Happy rooming, Hoosiers!
*Name has been changed to respect my roommate’s privacy.