Today is moving day and it has got me thinking about all the different people I have lived with over the years since leaving home. There have been quite a handful and, boy, have they all been different experiences! But there is one quality I have learnt from these times and that is tolerance. If you can muster up some patience to go in the mix too, that would be great. However, tolerance is absolutely vital to a blissful house-share. Living with other people really is a true test of your tolerance. Each of us comes with our own quirks, habits, standards of cleanliness and expectations. Upon the departure from the family nest we arrive to a whole new realm of sharing and consideration that we had not envisaged and this often causes a lot of strife in a household.
I have run the whole gamut of interesting housemates, from a super messy best friend to a crazy ex-boyfriend who refused to leave. The worst experience was the fall-out in my very first Halls of Residence. After a weekend away, my girl-housemate and I found that the boys had trashed the kitchen and broken one of my plates. We were not impressed, and as it had been a lead-up of several weeks of washing up their crap, we had had enough. We waited until they came home from their night-out (probably not the best of timing, I admit) to confront them. One of them was lovely and apologetic and stumbled off to bed. The other one, however, turned into a psycho-man screaming insults at me and calling me a megalomaniac. The torrent of abuse continued for months. He would regularly turn his stereo up full blast and go out till 5am, knowing that I was at home trying to sleep. I turned into a freak of a mess unable to sleep at normal hours and missing loads of lectures as a result. Eventually I cracked. After months of bullying I complained to the college and they relocated me. It was inconvenient but the sleep was bliss.
In another Halls of Residence (I switched courses) there ended up being a passive-aggressive wrangle over whose turn it was to buy the washing-up liquid. For some strange reason, this really ruffled my feathers and post-it notes were left around the kitchen on several occasions, much to the annoyance of my flatmates. It’s funny to look back at because I wouldn’t give two hoots about buying the cleaning products now, but such a small expense in my first year at university seemed astronomical to me.
Then I lost a best friend when we moved in together. The trouble started over allocation with rooms, and ended up with rows over internet usage. It really was so silly, but each of us thought the other was crazy! It is quite sad to look back at now, I guess we were both in bad places and neither of us had the tolerance or patience to work it out.
And then there is my super-messy best friend. She fully acknowledges the fact that I did most of the cleaning in our flat; in fact she would spend many a Saturday morning monging out on the sofa watching me clean and tidy the place. Her favourite habit is to leave her shoes exactly where she takes them off – in the middle of the hallway. And the white sofa was covered in red wine stains. Now we laugh about it, but there were times when I wanted to strangle her. The thing is, by this point I had learnt to accept people for the way they are. It is a much easier way to handle a living situation. You need to bend a little, accept their irritating habits where you can and tolerate their annoyingness. And that is one of the things I love about my best friend, she tolerated a lot of my annoyingness, or would make a joke out of it. It is our way of airing our annoyance without yelling and screaming at each other. It is so much nicer to make light of a situation.
By embracing a bit of tolerance in my life I have found myself to a much calmer and happier individual. After all, the only person you can change is yourself.