Confessions of a Senior Floater

The craziness of rooming is upon us. Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not you'll snag that window seat or River view; maybe you're just so extraordinarily excited to have a single that you can't think of anything else. I hear you on that one. It's quite possible you still love your roommates. Maybe you've never walked up to your door mumbling under your breath how much you hope no one's home.

Last month, I answered the phone convinced the caller was messing with me when she began politely, "I'm doing a survey on rooming at Harvard. Have you had any problems this year? Last year? The year before?" "Yes, yes and yes," I replied. "Oh. Almost everybody says that." Sure. I was left asking myself for the millionth time, "How have I lived with these girls, my friends, for almost three years and yet we just can't talk to each other anymore?" I thought about the unvoiced tension, how we became experts in ignoring each other. I got to a point when I knew it had to be me. And then realized it wasn't any of us. I started having fun with other people and so did they. I stopped being angry. I just wondered what the heck I was going to do next year.

Last week, my House tutor informed me that floating is far from the rare practice I thought it was. But who exactly are these floaters? Maybe it would be better to stay where I am--we've made it through three years together. Some tough times, sure, but it now seems okay. It can't get any worse, right?


However, as I asked myself (and everybody who listened), what about better than okay? What about hoping the door to your suite's already unlocked-- not because you forgot your key--but because you'd genuinely love to see your roommates and tell them about your day, hear about theirs, chill in the common room in a silence that feels good, comfortable, relaxing. Remembering what that felt like, I decided that I deserve a new chance. I can float. I've found my decision meant a lot of myths to debunk.

(1) Everybody else is incredibly happy in their rooming situation.

Oh, the stories I could tell. Stories I never knew till I asked: why people transferred, grew apart, don't speak--every conceivable reason for wanting to start over with new folks. Start listening and suddenly you're struggling to find anyone who hasn't ever considered moving out.

(2) It's better for everyone if you just shut up and hope for the best.

No, no and no again. It may seem harsh, but you need to think about what you can and can't live with. If you want a saying that's true, here's one: People change, but not that much. Stuff that's bugging you now won't simply disappear. Deciding to change rooms doesn't have to equal a final rejection. It can be the opportunity to spend time together because you want to.


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