A Letter to All My College Roommates, Who Essentially Lived Alone

IntrovertDear.com college roommates

My dear, dear, college roommates. Over the course of four years, I think there were eight of you who had to live with me. Live with me, deal with me, put up with me — whatever you chose. There’s something I want to tell you.

I know how I was. I know I was withdrawn and quiet, and overall, I was unappealing as a roommate. I one hundred percent know that, and I knew it at the time, too. I knew it, and I hated it. I hated who I was and why I was that way, but most of all, I hated that I couldn’t be the happy, spontaneous, stereotypical roommate most college students hope for.

There were a lot of reasons I would get home from class, say hello, close the door behind me, and immediately turn straight back into my bedroom. Unlike co-eds you see on TV who spend all their time in the front room, or the kitchen, or on the balcony — laughing and drinking beers with their friends and roommates — I spent all my time in my room, away from you.

It wasn’t because I didn’t like you. In fact, I really enjoyed living with at least three out of eight of you. I mean, I told you before moving in that I was an introvert, so maybe it wasn’t totally my fault. I think after I told you, you laughed it off, probably telling yourself, “Oh, that just means she’s shy. She’ll warm up to me.”

I Was Exhausted, Drained, and Depressed

I was more than just a shy introvert, though. I was exhausted, I was drained, and I was depressed. I went to the gym like crazy for a single taste of some happy endorphins, because I couldn’t afford access to health care, and I couldn’t otherwise fit a treadmill in my room. And because I couldn’t afford mental health care, I also couldn’t afford to be diagnosed and allowed a therapy animal. I think that would have helped, too.

It was my first time living away from home, far from the foundation of friends and family that helped me through every single year of school since kindergarten. I never learned how to make new friends, because I’d lived in the same house for almost 18 years. I never switched schools, I never went to a different church. I didn’t know how I was supposed to be as a social person; I didn’t know how people outside of my little bubble of safety were supposed to act.

I’m sorry if you thought I was a waste of a roommate, or “super weird,” as one of you put it when you thought I couldn’t hear. I’m sorry that my room was always a mess, and I really only ever escaped it anyway to grab something from the kitchen and say hello in passing.

Thank You for Inviting Me to Spend Time with You

Thank you for inviting me to spend time with you at the movies or on campus somewhere — those times meant a lot to me. I definitely did always have fun, even though I still fled back to my room the second we returned home. For a long time, I hated myself for always having to do that. It was nothing personal. My introverted brain needed more time to recharge — that’s literally the definition of introversion — and living with another person I barely knew did nothing to help. Every interaction I had with you was like another year off my life, and napping in bed awarded that year back.

I want you all to know that I’m doing better now. Not better in the way that you might expect, or maybe even hope — I’m still not great at making friends on the fly, but I’m doing better in my own way. I live by myself now. I have a little cat with big brown eyes that keeps my depression at bay. I graduated with my art degree and now I’m a full-time writer, which might be a combination of the two most introvert-centric things on this entire planet. But it’s perfect for me, so I can’t complain.

I spend time organizing and decorating my apartment. I use a lot more bright colors and patterns, which might seem a little out of the norm for someone like me. I don’t just throw my clothes on the floor and kick them out of the way when I get up in the morning. I have a kitchen with food, a front room with a couch and a TV, and a little sanctuary in my bedroom next to my fishbowl moss ball.

A lot of you are married now, and I congratulated you when I heard the news. I know that’s not enough to make up for any “roommate dreams” I might have crushed, but I can’t go back in time and change anything now.

Maybe in the future, if time travel is ever invented, I’ll go back and have more dinners at the table with you. I’ll watch more movies on the couch with you. I’ll go for more walks around campus with you.

Until then, I’m just glad we both eventually ended up where we wanted to be — content and satisfied.

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Kelsey is a freelance writer from the northwestern U.S., where her days consist of coffee, baggy sweaters, and fingers breaking a sweat over the keyboard. When she’s not writing, she’s drawing, spending time outdoors, or crying over cats at the petstore. You can follow her on Twitter here!