Been there, done that

Been there, done that

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The NEW New College advice column

Submitted by Sydney Rosenthal
My roommate has been giving me a really hard time. Aside from the normal roommate conflicts, my roommate is what I'd call a "chronic oversharer". She tells me everything, and I do mean everything, from details about her sex life to the kinds of drugs she does. I'm open to being her friend, but it's unsettling to hear these kinds of personal details when I don't really know her that well. How can I ask her to stop sharing so much without hurting her feelings?

Dear Knows Way Too Much,

Oof. I have been on both sides of this situation and I don’t know which one is worse. There’s a common misconception that roommates have to be “best friends”. Yes, it’s definitely easier if there is a connection, but I think the pressure that things have to be perfect causes a lot of tension. Living with a stranger is awkward and everyone reacts differently, some by sharing too much. But as a chronic oversharer myself, I have to think that if your roommate knew you weren’t interested or were uncomfortable, she wouldn’t be sharing with you. I’ve learned to check in when telling personal stories because one of my biggest fears is making people uncomfortable. My first reaction when reading this was, “maybe the roommate doesn’t have her own social group yet”.  You could try going to events together to meet new people, I was thinking something active so there’s a positive sober group dynamic. Try to find your own group of friends and encourage her to try things she enjoys so she finds her people. There is someone out there who is dying to hear her crazy stories. I also think there’s a lot of power in being direct in the moment, but it’s admittedly hard. Next time she starts telling you something that makes you uncomfortable, try to redirect or swerve the conversation. If you’re feeling brave you can even say, “I’d prefer if we don’t talk about that right now.” You could make an excuse like you’re watching a show, or don’t have time, but don’t feel like you have to. It’s not easy to shut someone down but sometimes it’s necessary.You deserve to be comfortable in your space even if that means her feelings get hurt momentarily. This is the time to be clear about boundaries, it is still early in the school year and kinks can still be worked out. The longer you wait the more uncomfortable things will get. Part of having a solid, long term relationship is communication and it sounds like your heart is in the right place. Good luck! 

I'm a first year and I'm very stressed with the workload here. I have a lot of reading and a decent amount of homework in general and somehow I'm behind already - I have no idea how to catch up. I don't want to give up my social life for schoolwork, but I feel like that's where I am headed. I don't want to renegotiate nor get an unsat nor give up self care/fun and I don't know how to take my classes without doing one of those.

First things first, don’t think about balancing as giving something up, because they’re distinctly different. I’m not here to tell you to be a hermit but I am going to gently remind you that you are at school for an education. When I was a first year,  I was eager to make friends so I agreed to *everything* I was invited to; I would strongly discourage that. It’s ok to try everything once but prioritize events. For example, I don’t go to every wall but I wouldn’t miss a wall that my friend is throwing and I try to go to as many bayfront sunsets as I can. It’s also ok to only go to events for a scheduled period of time. If I know I have a big exam coming up or an assignment due but there’s also an event I need (were prioritizing here) to go to, I do both. I just make sure I only go to the event for the amount of time I can afford, even if that’s just twenty minutes and I make sure that I stay sober so that I can do work afterwards. Not going out all the time makes it so that the times you do go out are memorable and special. Your friends will understand that you need to work and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them are feeling similarly. You will be ok, the first part of fixing a problem is being aware. I know it can feel awkward but talk to your professors and advisors about feeling behind, they understand and are surprisingly encouraging, I’ll leave the school stuff for Anna Lynn tho! Have fun and relax, a sat is a sat. 

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