Question: “I am a freshman in college, and my suitemates are all really cliquey and mean. I feel like the odd one out, and I feel like they are always judging me. I don’t know what to do, because I have to live with them all year, but I don’t even know if I want to fit in with them because they are so mean. I am kind of afraid to be friends with them”.
-Friendless and Afraid
Hello Friendless and Afraid,
Unfortunately, I have not lived in a dorm on campus before. I’m the cliché RIC student who has commuted for his entire college career. However, I do have a lot of experience with being bullied and having to work with difficult people, and it is not fun. What you have to remember is that this is a temporary situation; you will not live with these people forever. They cannot stop you from having the time of your life and maintaining a positive attitude. Being in a new school has its challenges, and those challenges should not be what you come home to after a long day of classes. I would first advise you to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts; the library has a lot of great places to settle in and relax. You might also benefit from taking up a hobby that will relax you, such as doing yoga, knitting or even joining an organization on campus. I hear the Cat Coalition is perfect for relaxation!
Lastly, a wise man once told me that you will never know what people are thinking until you ask them. If your suitemates are affecting you in such a negative way, you can always speak to them one-on-one and explain how you feel. The worst-case scenario is they truly hate you and are extremely mean people, but if you speak to them and tell them how they are making you feel, chances are good that they’ll be genuinely apologetic. They may not even realize what they are doing! A simple heart-to-heart could be what you need to alleviate this tense situation. I really hope that, regardless of your suitemates true intentions, you are able to make your time at Rhode Island College worthwhile and that you can find your niche here. Stay strong and positive, my friend.
Dearest Friendless and Afraid,
First of all, good on you for staying out of the drama. Keeping your cool around so much negativity can be difficult, especially when you’re in a new place with all of these people who aren’t on your wavelength. You make a good point that you have to live with them all year, so if you want to keep the peace and try to establish a friendship with them, you could try finding something on campus that you guys can all do together outside of the suite. From the sound of things, however, it may be time to put yourself first. Make sure that you establish boundaries with your suitemates as soon as issues arise. If they are doing something that makes you uncomfortable (intentionally or otherwise), politely remove yourself from the conversation and say something like, “that’s not really my cup of tea, so I’m going to go finish studying at the cafe.” They might be judgmental, but that’s their problem and not yours; it isn’t your job to sort them out. It hurts, but realizing that we cannot control other people’s actions is one of the hardest lessons we learn as we grow up. The only thing we can control is how we react and respond. The more you feed into someone else’s drama, the more involved you become. Don’t make their reality part of your own; instead, build up your own reality.
Think about it this way: the best news is that you have four years to build up your own world. The RIC community is overflowing with clubs, events and activities. Find some buddies in your classes, and start a study group! Attend a new club during the Wednesday free period. I am a transfer commuter student, so I totally understand the isolation. I have found that once you make the leap and reach out to people, they respond very well. College life can feel pretty lonely at first, but now you have the opportunity to choose who you want to surround yourself with and who you want to avoid. You’ll have supporting and like-minded people on your team in no time. Just make sure to put your own comfort and happiness first, and remember that you define yourself, not your suitemates.
Hang in there,