My parents were married very young, and my mom always says one of the hardest parts about that decision was learning to cope with another person’s everyday lifestyle as a teenager. While that learning process is difficult by definition, as a teenager you’re generally less tolerant and open-minded.

So this week I’ve thought a lot about that lesson, as I’m surprised by how much it really does apply to living with roommates for the first time. The difference here is that, since we’re all girls, we don’t have to cope with really smelly socks in our laundry or blaring video games during study time (not saying that was you, Daddy!).

Regardless, the three of us have definitely learned an important lesson over the past five weeks, one that I’m sure will carry over into all of our marriages someday.

Tolerance.

While CBU has a great method of matching up roommates before the year begins, nothing can fully prepare a student for living with a new person (or in my case, two new people). We are all unique children of God, regardless of shared majors or backgrounds.

Right away, I labeled one of my roommates as neat and tidy (she literally cleans as she moves), and the other one as… less neat and tidy. Neither trait really bothers me because I tend to be right in the middle, but at first the stark contrast still added to our overall sense of culture shock when we moved in. That contrast between the three of us affects whose desk is where, how many dishes are in the sink, whose bed is set every day, and whether by Friday the floor is still visible. Despite all that, we’ve all learned to cope with each other with an unsaid understanding that everyone shares in the chore load and keeps their mess confined to their own space.

The survival rate of three monsters in one room is small to none – and let me tell you, about once every four weeks, the three of us gentle girls suddenly seem to fall into that definition. We become big, green and crabby, as our inner Hulk threatens to emerge. It’s during this time that I truly believe the best coping route is this…

…run away!

See, there seems to be a silent agreement in my apartment that space is necessary when our hulks come to visit. One of us flees for the library, one of us heads to a friend’s and the last puts her headphones in and focuses on a project. It’s simple enough, and it works.

Generally speaking, by this time we understand what makes who tick, who’s the optimist and who’s the pessimist, who’s sarcastic and who’s very blunt… and most importantly, that none of it matters, because we know how to deal with it and move on. We have a method. But we only know it works because our other experimental coping methods haven’t. Nonetheless, we’ve been patient and learned how best to tolerate each other and our differences. We’ve learned to tolerate and try again… tolerate, try again… and because of that, I believe next year we’ll be much better prepared for whatever (or, WHOever) comes our way.