I remember how nervous I was when I got the piece of paper from college telling me about my dorm assignment for freshman year. As an only child who had always had her own room, the thought of sharing one small room with three other girls was a little frightening. Summer camp had prepared me some, but I was still unsure. Thankfully, the roommate gods blessed me, and I was randomly placed with three girls who would become some of my best college friends. Not everyone was nice though, and when it came time to choose roommates for the following year, one girl who was planning on living with two of my roommates decided she didn’t want me living with them. I’d never done anything to her, didn’t even know her that well, but for some reason she didn’t want me to be part of their group. So, I ended up with my third roommate, a friend of ours and some of the other girls from our hall. Things worked out just fine, but I missed living with the other two.
It was the summer before sophomore year when I met the man who is now my fiancé. Although I wouldn’t trade our relationship for the world, three years of long distance and many weekends away didn’t do much to help the friend situation. My freshman friends and I were still close, but they had also become closer with their sophomore roommates, among them a couple more girls who disliked me for no reason. Those girls were even worse than the first, barely even recognizing my existence and never making me feel welcome or comfortable. Maybe they saw me as a threat, or maybe they just didn’t like me, but the way they treated me was totally unfair.
I never again lived with my freshman roommates. They never asked, but not for any malicious reason. I’m pretty sure they had no idea how the other girls treated me. Ignorance is bliss or something like that. What I felt was far from bliss. Being left out of their tight-knit group has made me very aware of how I treat people. Whenever I host a party, I make sure everyone is introduced to everyone else so no one is left sitting alone. I’ve made an effort to tell all of my close friends about each other so they feel more comfortable when they first meet. If I find out someone feels left out, I’ll do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
The important thing to remember is that letting people in is not a bad thing. If you give them a chance and actually get to know them, you might find you really like them. Don’t just brush people off because they’re not part of your group and they might “steal your friends.” Trust that your friends wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t awesome. Give people the same opportunity you would want them to give you.
Samantha Karol is twenty-something living and working in New York City. She is a writer and a grammar nerd, currently employed in development at an Israel-related non-profit. The way to her heart is through ice cream.