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An Introvert Living With Others

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #148255

    Kayla
    Participant

    Hi everyone. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this problem I'm having.

     

    So, I'm a 20 year old college student, living in an on campus apartment with one other roommate. This summer, my old roommate is moving out because she got fired from the same job that we both work at (long story). She has 10 more days to live here.

     

    She was a bad roommate and a good roommate. A bad one in the sense that her cleaning habits were atrocious, and a good one in the sense that she was an introvert, like me. So, she was quiet and only brought people over occasionally.

     

    Right now, I'm locked up in my room as she has about 4-5 friends over and my anxiety is through the roof. It's a combination of the noise, the unfamiliarity of these strangers in my house, and my innate desire to be completely alone. It's also because I'm worried about my future roommate who will replace her this summer. What if she's really extroverted and has people over all the time? What if she's also messy? I feel like a weirdo for not being okay with my roommate having people over, but it just makes me really uncomfortable, and my home is my go-to comfort haven.

     

    It would be great if someone could give advice on how to phrase this concern to my future roommate, because I'm at a total loss on how I will approach this topic with her.

    Thank you everyone!

     

     

    #148265

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kayla:

    You are not a weirdo for feeling uncomfortable about your roommate having four people over, the noise and all. We feel what we feel: our feelings are automatic mental events. We don't choose them, and so we are not good or bad, normal or weird for feeling what we feel.

    I used to think as well that my feelings made me weird. I didn't understand why, for one, I was so sensitive to noise, why it bothered me so much while for others, it seemed to be okay. I realized that it happened this way because of past, childhood experiences, that I was screamed at and hated loud voices ever since. Now that is not my fault, is it, that I was screamed at? And so, it is not my fault or a weirdness that I dislike loud sounds and noises as much as I do.

    Regarding your future roommate: do you have an choice on the matter of who your next roommate is going to be or is it predetermined for you?

    If you have a choice, you can interview her. If you don't have a choice, that is another matter. Let me know.

    anita

    #148307

    Kayla
    Participant

    Hi Anita, thank you for your response. I really needed to hear that…that, my feelings aren't anything to be ashamed of.

     

    To answer your question, I don't have a say in who my roommate is. I've actually already met her and she seems nice and friendly. I still worry about her future habits, though…

    #148313

    Hana L
    Participant

    Hi Kayla,

    When I was a uni student, I lived in a situation like yours. I had housemates who were very extroverted, bringing boyfriends and friends over, playing loud music, etc.

    I stayed in my room most of the time when my housemate had friends over. Only when I'd to go to the common living room, kitchen (and meet the other people) I'd just say hello, asked how was their day before I went back to my room (i.e. my sanctuary).

    During the times I had important exams/presentations I'd just tell my current housemate politely I had those on, and would ask her when her exams, etc on, just so I would make sure I didn't disturb her (this was just courtesy). I've had situations I had no choice but to knock on my (previous) housemate's door to ask her (plus friends) to lower their music due to me having exams. It didn't help the walls of the apartment were thin!

    When things got noisy, playing music with  earplugs on was my best friend.

    I lived with housemates for 5 years, then decided when I was working to live on my own (mainly because I was also tired of some negative experiences I'd gone through living with other people).

    If your circumstances permit, you may want to consider living by yourself.

    Hana

     

    #148317

    Susannah
    Participant

    Dear Kayla, hope that there will not be problems with different lifestyles. Many people naturally respect each other”s privacy and do not bring friends / relatives often. If your new companion has such a habit  – probably not – maybe you could tell her that you need to be able to focus on your studies and that doesn”t happen if visitors come and go. Like I said, most people have decent manners and realize that it is different to live with a roommate than by yourself. If some problems arise, you need to make an agreement about visitors. The main point is that you have a right to feel comfortable at home!

    #148319

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Kayla,

    Well, there is just as likely a chance that you could have tidy, introverted roommates as well! I was in a situation where I was the messy, extroverted one in comparison!

    What I did Freshman year was hang tapestries strategically in the room so I had a “room within a room” so I could be alone while my roommate was entertaining.

    Another thing that can happen is if you are with an extrovert, it is actually more likely that she will ditch you to hang out with the queen bee or king pin of the group she's in ~ in their room!

    Or, you will become good friends with her friends and then it won't seem like an intrusion.

    And if you tell her, “Could you pick up once a week and have only one or two friends over at a time?” she will be cool with that as long as you don't ask for much else. Otherwise she'll be the jerk, you know?

    Good Luck!

    Inky

    #148337

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kayla:

    You are welcome. Your feelings are definitely nothing to be ashamed of.

    I understand your worries about your future roommate. The fact that she seems friendly and nice is no indication of her cleaning habits or of how many friends she has and how loud they may get.

    Since you have no choice on who your roommate will be, what can you do?

    First priorities: you are way more distressed when there are guests in the apartment (“my anxiety is through the roof. It’s a combination of the noise, the unfamiliarity of these strangers in my house, and my innate desire to be completely alone”) than you do about the cleanliness. Am I correct?

    If so, prepare to talk with your next roommate about just that: the noise level if and when she has guests. Tell her how distressing it is to you. Let her know that in an honest, straightforward way, not accusatory, not threatening in any way. Let her know of this in a confident voice (not sounding scared, or crying and so on). She needs to understand how important it is for you, but she also needs to know that you are not going to freak out easily if she accidently talks too loud on the phone, let's say.

    In your interactions with her be assertive, not aggressive nor passive. Being assertive, she is more likely to respect you and accommodate you than if you are passive (or aggressive).

    There is the possibility that however wisely you go about this, she will not accommodate you.

    Regarding your intensely anxious reaction about the : “combination of the noise, the unfamiliarity of these strangers in my house, and my innate desire to be completely alone”- are you aware of where/ when this reaction originated, in your childhood perhaps?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  anita.
    #148371

    Kayla
    Participant

    Hana, thank you for sharing this with me. It's good to know I'm not alone! I've tried the method of listening to really loud music with earbuds–I plan to invest in noise-cancelling ones in the future. Because of my job, all employees are only allowed to live in a 2-bedroom with another employee, so I won't be able to live by myself unless I quit my job. In the distant future, my dream is to live in a one-bedroom apartment by myself (a strange dream to have but it's the number one thing I crave right now!)

    #148373

    Kayla
    Participant

    Susannah–thanks for your advice. I will tell her that I need to focus on studying. I hope it never gets to the point where we need to sit down and make an agreement about visitors, but I will do that if it things get out of hand. Again, thank you!

    #148375

    Kayla
    Participant

    Thanks Inky, I never thought that she might actually never be home. If that's the case, it would be a win-win situation for me! From the limited interaction I've already had with her, I think she would be understanding if I addressed her with this issue. I guess I'll just have to see what happens 🙂

    #148379

    Kayla
    Participant

    Anita,

    Regarding whether I'm more distressed about cleanliness or the noise level in the apartment, I would say that those two things are the most important factors in living comfortably with my roommate. When my roommates aren't clean, I view them as inconsiderate and disrespectful and it makes me think that THEY think I'm ‘lesser' or ‘unimportant' to them. The combination of all these feelings makes my anxiety go haywire and also makes me have a negative attitude towards them. So, I would say that cleanliness and low noise levels equally contribute to me being stress-free.

    I usually have a hard time with being assertive for fear of being disliked (something I know I need to work on), but with this new roommate, I'm willing to risk that in order to live comfortably. I will try to do what you said and hopefully all goes well!

    As for when this originated, I'm pretty sure it stems from when I was in high school. My older brother whose bedroom was adjacent to mine had mini-parties in his bedroom till the early hours of the morning. He and I didn't have a close relationship and I always felt awkward about confronting him about the noise and people. Eventually he went to college and I didn't have to deal with it anymore. Now looking back on it, I'm amazed how issues like this surface up later in your life in a different way…

    #148381

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kayla:

    I understand that both, lack of cleanliness and noise equally bother you. I will focus on the noise problem at this point. Please let me know if my understanding is correct:

    When your brother had those parties, you were very distressed. First there was the distress of the noise, but then, on top of it was the distress over your feelings not mattering. It made no difference to your brother that you felt distressed about the noise and he kept on with his noisy parties- as if you didn't matter, as if your distress was not a matter of importance.

    Your parents didn't see or care about your distress either, not enough to protect you, to care for you, so to prevent you from suffering.

    And so, you were alone, with your distress. And that made it worse. The noise meant more than noise; it meant something like: “I don't matter. I am alone. There is no one to protect me. No one to help me.

    Am I correct?

    anita

    #148401

    Kayla
    Participant

    Yes! You described my thoughts exactly.

    #148409

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Kayla:

    What happened is understandable, nothing weird about it: the noise of the roommate having company means more than noise to you: it means noise + the extra distress of your childhood experience being triggered. A connection in your brain has been made between party-like noise and the distress of being alone, not helped, not attended to.

    I am sure there are other areas where the distress of childhood is being triggered, besides roommates not cleaning after themselves. No wonder your dream is to live alone in a one bedroom apartment, where you can control who is in your apartment, no parties can take place without your consent.

    Your parents failed you. They should have attended to your distress and limited your brother's partying significantly and maybe completely. If they did so, party/ company noise for you would be just that, noise.

    There is a way to peel off the extra distress from the noise, so that noise is just noise, unpleasant, but not devastating, not overwhelming. And there is a way to peel off the distress from roommates not cleaning after themselves, so the mess is unpleasant, but not devastating. That extra distress of your distressed-and-alone/ neglected childhood experience can be “peeled off” your present everyday experiences.

    This can be done with the help of a competent psychotherapist. You need the safety of an empathetic therapist who unlike your parents will SEE you, see your distress, understand your feeling.. make you understand yourself, so it all makes sense and you no longer feel weird or that you shouldn't feel what you do.

    One day, or night, noise will be just noise and a mess will be just a mess.

    Do post anytime. You can share more, if you'd like and I will reply with more information, understanding (always checking with you to see if I am correct).

    anita

    #148433

    Kayla
    Participant

    Wow, thank you so much for your help Anita. I feel warm because of how thoughtful and helpful you have been. I will look more into psychotherapy because it seems like it could also be pretty helpful. I have a lot of thinking to do about my past now… 🙂

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