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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star


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Students need to gain conflict management skills


Photo credit: Jaden Edison

One of the notorious dilemmas for college students is becoming accustomed to a new roommate. This can be especially hard for the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman who walks straight on the college platform where the entire backdrop of their life has changed like the set of a play.
Tired and stressed from a day’s worth of classes, a student’s only haven—their home-away-from-home—could face havoc if their new living partner harbors opposite habits. Even so, synchronizing personalities and commonalities may strip students of the opportunity to learn a crucial life skill: conflict management.
Living in adverse conditions is a great way of learning conflict management and empathy toward diverse backgrounds. Some fierce altercations could arise in such an environment where profoundly different individuals are expected to coexist.
An early riser is paired with a night owl; a Christian with an atheist; an introvert with an extrovert; a conservative student with a liberal one. Even for students who have grown up learning to live civilly with siblings, a new space with a stranger beckons potential conflict.
In the family setting, foundational systems of thought tend to align while more menial personality differences remain the single confounding variable. With randomly selected roommates, anything from belief systems to personalities to modes of expression could differ.
Regardless, the consequence of roommates enable both individuals to temporarily calling their shared space “home,” which tends to be the place where someone is free to pull off the suffocating mask of courteous action and breathe without hesitation.
Students with roommates should try to remember all the places it may be appropriate to curtail dimensions of self; home is not one of them. It is therefore important to establish the environment as an open and comfortable space for all who reside there.
In the case two polar opposites of a spectrum end up under the same roof, it is necessary to acquire the skill of respecting varying lifestyles without having to conform to it. Two keywords in this process are “understanding” and “grace.”
The 20th century introduced a nascent philosophy known as phenomenological theory, which asserts the concept that the only way to understand another individual is by experiencing the world as they do. While experiencing the world through someone else is impossible, living in the same space as them is about as close as people can get. Students should take the chance to walk a day in another’s shoes—but ask if it is okay to borrow them first!
Even if students fail to become partial to the opposite worldview, grace has its place. Recognizing people are a product of both their involuntary inner workings as well as an uncontrolled youth environment may assist in the forgiveness of unintentionally toe-stepping. It is meaningless to be angered by the characteristics an individual cannot control.
Living with an unfamiliar individual with various mannerisms is a great opportunity to become aware of students’ good and bad habits. In other words, characteristics are the product of a relatively conscious choice. More specifically, this living arrangement is an opportunity to see how those habits affect the individuals around them.
If there is something causing friction between residents of the same space, expressions of discomfort should not only be accepted but welcomed as a means of self-improvement. Maybe a roommate snatches the other’s sweater every once in a while with no ill-will intended.
However, here lies the awakening of the unequal perception of a situation. It is unfair to cast one’s own level of comfort onto another person without concern for how their reaction may differ. “I wouldn’t be bothered by it,” is not a valid excuse to persist.
Another vital keyword to remember is “compromise.” A person’s comforts should be freely expressed as long as they do not impede on others. As British Philosopher John Stuart Mill puts it, “the only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it.”
While learning to live with someone new can be a difficult project, it is a healthy and beneficial one. Roommates do not have to reach their finale with matching ankle tattoos and shared custody over the cat. However, learning to coexist respectfully with adversity will build incredibly important skills for future endeavors. After all, everybody is tired at the end of the day. Have mercy on each other.

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