Fight or Flight

So I have this friend… well, techincally she’s my housemate. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces, but that isn’t to say she isn’t challenging. The trouble with living with people, and particularly living with people whilst you study (which I can only imagine adds to the never ending list of stresses), is that you are very quick to get under each other’s feet. Everyone has their own particular ways of doing things and you won’t agree on the same things.

Ok, so this maybe where it gets a little moany but I promise I have a point.

This housemate – lovely as she is – has her own ways of doing things. Some make perfect sense, such as wrapping things up in tin foil in the fridge (ok, some sense), while others seem a little out there, such as making us wipe down the shower after each use with a windscreen wiper. While I wouldn’t naturally do all these little quirks, I understand that I’m living with other people and I have to respect what they would like and so happily oblidge. And, so, a brief peace is established.

The difference is, while I’m willing to listen to her demands, the same respect isn’t always paid back to me. (Ok, so maybe it’s a little more than a bit moany, but I promise there is a point). Now, I don’t have many demands and I pride myself on being pretty flexible, but it’s more if she doesn’t completely get her own way all hell springs forth. I’ve had stuff dumped outside of my room, snide comments made, and more than one patronising dig sent my way . And it isn’t just me noticing it – mutual friends who are outside of the situation have commented on it. I know it sounds like I’m being mean but, here comes my point.

Sometimes, life at home in Swansea is a nightmare when this housemate is in one of her moods. I feel like I don’t have a say in my own home and that I can’t actually call it my safe place. In moments like this, I have two options it seems: Fight and scream and yell and rant and let all my frustrations out; or Flight, either never come home apart from when I have to or cower in the corner and let her have her say.  I have had friends suggest and give their arguments for both of these but neither are desirable. So instead, I choose something a little in the middle. It would be easy to scream and shout and moan and I imagine that for a short moment I would even feel a little better but it will only doubtless cause more problems than it would solve. If I feel that she is being slightly aggressive in the way she talks why should I think it is ok to do the same? When has fighting fire with fire ever actually worked? But, at the same time, if I simply cower in the corner and not do anything how can I expect her to know that I am unhappy? So instead I tackle things with a smile, as one of my friends describe it.

When you live with someone, or spend a lot of time with someone, you have to treat each moment carefully. Like I say, this girl isn’t just my housemate. She is my friend, it is just that we live together and that comes with it its own set of problems. I thought this would be a good blog post for now because I know when I first started University and living with people, it was at this point I felt really claustrophobic and homesick. So I though this would be a good opportunity to share some of my tips and tricks for living with people:

  1. Say No To Bullies: there will be those with bigger personalities than you and you might find that there people who are perhaps crushed by your personality. I suppose the trick is trying to find a balance and it’s not some much something you can learn to do but rather something you just have to learn through mistakes. There will be arguments and temper tantrums and this is fine. Just never be shy to offer an apology (even if you don’t necessarily believe you should).
  2. Lock in: My house at the moment has an open door policy, that is that if my door is open it is an invitation to come in and chat. At the same time, a closed door was meant to mean ‘I want to be on my own for a bit’. I say meant because it doesn’t always work like that which is why I have come to love my door lock. You might think it’s a little sad, but you just need to shut yourself away. Now this housemate doesn’t like this but it’s something I put my foot down to. You need space, especially sometimes just to let off a little steam before you encounter the world again. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to spend time by yourself.
  3. Have an Outlet: Living with people, especially people you might not know, is stresful and you will get wound up. If you don’t have an outlet, that is a group of people outside of the house, you will explode and it will be horrible. As much as you need your own space, you also need someone you can rant to. Sometimes it helps if this someone is outside of your friendship group if you live with friends, but absolutely make sure it is someone you trust.

So I hope this hasn’t been too moany. I just had a lot of thoughts that I needed to get off my chest and I think it should be helpful. I don’t know. I’ll guess I’ll just blame it all on Nano madness.


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