When you head off to college and move into a dorm room, it’s usually a general goal to do your best to get along with your roommate or roommates. And if that doesn’t work, then the next goal turns into surviving in the same space without rubbing shoulders or bothering each other too much. It can be tough sharing the same space with a couple of complete strangers, and since you all come from different backgrounds, there’s a good chance that you have some different ideas about how often the dishes need to be washed, when the trash should be taken out, and how you should decorate your space.
The thing is, when you live in close community with other people, there’s a good chance that you’re going to butt heads about something at some point. Whether it’s a cleanliness issue, an aesthetic issue, or a certain interaction, even roommates who are good friends have interpersonal struggles at one time or another. Even if you end up becoming best friends with your roommate, it’s a good idea to have the expectation that you’ll probably have to intentionally choose peace and connection, as well as healthy confrontation, at one point or another.
In the meantime, what if you approached your relationship with your roommates from a completely different angle? What if instead of focusing on how you can always make things work for you, you considered some ways you can serve your roommates and show them love? We’ve pulled together some ideas on how to serve those who are living in your space day in and day out.
1. Take initiative on chores
There are few things nice than coming home to a clean dorm room or an empty clean sink and kitchenette. Surprise your roommate one day by taking the initiative and doing the dishes for her—even if cleaning the kitchen is technically her job for the day on the chore wheel. The same goes for other “housework” jobs: cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, vacuuming. Pick a week and figure out which things you want to clean in order to bless your roommates.
At the very least, try to take initiative on the chores that actually are your responsibility: pick up your clothes, make your bed, tidy your space, and complete your other assigned chores. Your roommates will be thankful for your maturity and reliability, as there’s nothing more satisfying than chaos put to order in a shared space.
2. Pick up a treat
Whether it’s remembering their favorite snack foods or running out to grab a pumpkin spice latte in the morning, picking up a treat for your roommate(s), particularly after a hard day, can be a real blessing. Even if you can simply snag a cinnamon roll from the campus breakfast buffet and cart it back to your dorm on a day when he or she slept in, this little gesture will mean a lot.
Paying attention to things your roommates mention they like or enjoy can also really come in handy on birthdays and around holidays, as you’ll automatically have a couple ideas for gifts tucked away in your mind. Remembering special occasions like these can also make your roomies feel loved.
3. Leave notes
Finding a note from your roommate can be a really sweet gesture. Even a simple Post-It note on the mirror with a “Good morning! Hope you have a great day,” can turn a morning around. Just knowing someone cares enough to encourage you through a little note can mean the world—particularly if your roommate’s love language is words of affirmation. Bored in class? Write a quick note up for your roomie and drop it off at the mail center. Who doesn’t like getting mail??
4. Take time to listen and pray
Sometimes the most servant-hearted thing you can do for your roommates is simply listen and pray. Taking time out of your busy schedule to hear about your roommate’s day or listen to them talk through the things that are stressing them out during a particular week can be really life-giving. Your roomie is a person just like you and needs love and support.
Take some time to pray for them too—or even pray with them if they are open to that!