The First-Year Experience: Bad Blood

By Melanie Biles '18
Design Editor

My high school headmaster used to make a speech every Spring in which he repeated over and over, “Change is the only constant.” During this speech, he would announce all of the changes that were about to take place in the school, from a new mascot animal and buildings being torn down to teachers who were leaving. The structure and timing of the talk never changed, and the seniors were always able to predict exactly what would be said and exactly how it would be delivered. It always struck me as a little bit ironic. Change wasn’t the only constant. That annoying speech was.

Honestly, though, there are a lot of constants in life. One of them is conflict. I have always referred to March and November as the conflict months. They are just far enough into the semester that the shiny new-ness of everything has worn off, and people are no longer excited to be back with their friends after break. All of the cracks start to show through, and the things you once found entertaining and fun suddenly make you want to bang your head into a wall. This, of course, is how I explain Zayn Malik leaving One Direction. (It’s in my contract to mention that.)

Conflict in college is inevitable. Especially given the living quarters, it is impossible to avoid disagreements every once in a while. As a first year living with someone who was chosen for you, there will of course be moments or parts of your relationship with your roommate(s) that are difficult and/or annoying. This is not a problem if you are mature and confident enough to confront your problems head on and have calm conversations about the things that bother you as they occur, but I have not met many people who are like this. What else possesses these traits? Unicorns? Maybe. Taylor Swift? Certainly. (It’s not in my contract to mention her. I just love her too much not to.)

So what do you do when you have issues with somebody and you are afraid to confront them? For starters, try writing out what you have to say before you say it — it’s easier if you go in with a battle plan already in mind. Think of specific things you want out of the conversation. Maybe you are generally annoyed by how loud somebody is late at night (and also a bit confused as to how anybody thinks something like that is okay). Start with something simple, like “Could you try to avoid slamming the door late at night?” Easy changes and specific suggestions make for a smoother resolution.

Conflict is hard. It’s never fun to be upset with anyone or to have anyone be upset with you, but it is an unfortunately constant part of life. However, there are a lot of options for how to handle it. Yes, you can just avoid the person and passive-aggressively listen to Taylor Swift’s “Better Than Revenge” on repeat, thinking about how much it was written for this situation, but the far healthier option is just to confront him or her. As difficult as it may be, it is ultimately worth it in order to live a happier and more balanced life. Plus, it might even change your situation. And as we all know, change is the (only) constant.