One morning during my first semester of college, I woke up for my 8:30 class and headed to the bathroom. There on my toilet was a gift bag with a card, my favorite candy and a travel mug from my roommates. I think I was going through a hard time at that point, but the funny thing is that now, months later, I can't remember why on earth I even needed or deserved such a sweet gesture.
I was blessed with some wonderful roommates my first year in college, and we have all taught each other the value of being strong women with and for each other; whether that means small gifts to boost morale or decorating the room with positive words and quotes to get by. Everyone can show a little extra love going into this new semester which is definitely something to keep in mind as move-in approaches.
1. Give "just because" cards and gifts generously.
I know it's hard to willingly spend money on other people in college. I typically only have $3 in my wallet at any given moment, but if you can spare a couple bucks, it will make a world of difference in your roommates' lives. I especially like to write encouraging notes for my roommates when I know they have some deadlines and exams coming up.
I've picked up a boatload of stationery from the Target dollar section, and you can even get fancier with selections from Etsy and Hallmark. Gift-giving is also a bonus! I definitely recommend getting gifts for your roommates on major holidays even if it just means a small bottle of lotion or a laptop sticker. I know it's cliche, but the thought is truly what counts. Even during regular school weeks, you never know what someone might be going through, and little pick-me-ups truly work wonders.
2. Actually listen.
I know everyone will tell you that the key to getting along with roommates is to communicate. You'll hear this so many times, but it's the truth. Talking frankly and openly is step one. Step two is to listen to understand. If you take some real time out of your day to set your phone down, turn off the TV or hit pause on Spotify to ask your roommate how their day is going, it will be a sure sign that you care and want the best for them.
You might also really click after some deep conversation. I spent a lot of evenings of my freshman year staying up until 1 in the morning trying to define love and finding coping strategies for anxiety with my roommate Adriana. Not only will you both be a shoulder to lean on, but you'll make connections and memories that you'll always remember.
3. Take them out to do something besides studying or partying.
For a lot of people, college is either a cycle of studying and partying and sleeping, or in my case, writing 800 articles a week and taking some killer naps. You can act as a huge motivator for your roommates by taking them out to do something fun. Whether it's a quick dinner at Taco Bell, grabbing a smoothie at your local juice bar or Starbucks, going for a walk or hitting up the gym, doing something active and outside of your dorm room will change things up in a way that benefits everyone. Getting fresh air beyond a cracked window is vital to your mental health, and doing something healthy and fulfilling will turn your week around.
This one might not be for everyone, but when it comes to close friends and roomies, show some physical affection. You might not realize it, but unless you're with your significant other half of the time, hugs are few and far between in college. You're usually stuck with a professor or casual acquaintance during the day, but if you create a loving and welcoming space in your dorm room where friends and roommates want to be, you can cuddle up to watch movies, cry on each other's shoulders or share soft blankets and pillows after a long day. Bonus points if there are stuffed animals. Don't be ashamed of needing comfort. In fact, advocate for comfort and coziness and love. You need it no matter how old you are.
5. Send them uplifting playlists.
Or better yet, blast some feel-good music while you're cooking Easy Mac or having a dance break during a study session. I have a friend, who, whenever she knows I'm sad or anxious, will send me a song that makes her feel happy in hopes that it'll do the same for me. Go in together on a Spotify or 8tracks playlist for your toughest days. Here's one of my favs that I've made myself:
6. Leave inspiring notes around your home.
When things are getting rough towards finals week (or just in our emotional lives), I try to put up some sticky notes or reminders to keep things optimistic. I also like starting the year with empowering posters/prints as room decor, so there's always a homey and encouraging place to return to at the end of the day. The easiest way to do this is to find your favorite quotes on Pinterest and print them out to collage around the dorm during the semester. Find things that speak to you and your roommates and embrace the little things when life gets rough.
Whether you're getting paired with random roommates or you go into college with someone by your side, you enter a pact in which you swear to 1) have a survivable relationship with doing the dishes every so often and 2) care for the person/people you live with. You don't have to take care of them, but if you're a nice and cool person, you'll want the absolute best for them and do what you can to help them get there.
Lead Image Credit: Shelby Nook