Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

So the housing results are in, and you’re in a single. Maybe you requested one, or maybe you had your heart set on having a roomie next semester; either way, you’re bound to have concerns about how you’re going to thrive socially while living all by your lonesome. Well, before you start singing sad Celine Dion songs into a rolled-up magazine, hear me out as someone who’s lived with a random roommate, and who currently lives in a single dorm: the benefits of having a room to yourself far, far outweigh the drawbacks. And the drawbacks are pretty easy to deal with if you know how.

The Perks

You can decorate your room however you please.

Now, this might sound like a pretty shallow perk, but I’m a firm believer in the effects of your environment on your overall mood. And when you’re as obsessed with pink as I am and suffer through an entire semester with a roommate who’s favorite color is brown, you learn to appreciate how nice it is to have your own little space filled with colors and light.

You won’t have to deal with the trials and tribulations that come with a disastrous roommate.

While living in a double with a roommate you love is probably the best possible housing outcome for incoming students, living with a roommate you can’t stand is definitely the worst. So while living in a single might not lead to immediate Leslie Knope and Anne Perkins-style friendship (which living in a double can), it also won’t lead to you living with the proverbial Jean-Ralphio Saperstein. You’ll never have to worry about your roommate turning your room into a biohazard zone with weeks-old leftover Thai food or sexiling you in the wee hours of the morning during finals week. You won’t have to deal with your roommate’s terrible taste in music or his blatant refusal to vacuum or do laundry. Ever.

You’ll have actual privacy. 

Not only does living in a single free you from a potential year-long personality clash, but it allows you freedom to go about your day however you please. When you’re living in a single, any hour of the day or night can be a one-woman performance of Les Misérables, a Nicki Minaj concert, or Sam Smith jam sesh. You can take hundreds of selfies, scarf down multiple pints of Ben & Jerry’s, or spend the entire day on YouTube in your pajamas, and no one will be the wiser. You can slack off on your chores if you’re dealing with a stressful week without upsetting a picky roommate, and you can read those guilty pleasure romance novels whenever you want. As long as you’re careful not to disturb your hall mates, you can be as privately irritating as you please. This isn’t to say that you should use your lack of a roommate to excuse becoming a complete and total slob, but you can cut yourself some slack when you really need it, and believe me: that’s a blessing.

You can come and go as you please. 

This is an unbelievable luxury in college. You can stay out – whether at your favorite frat or the library stacks – until all hours of the morning, and waltz into your room without bothering anyone. You can wake up at 6:00 a.m. the morning of a big exam, or snooze until 2:00 p.m. on a particularly lazy Saturday. You can leave your lamp on until 4:00 a.m. working on that British lit paper without incurring a roommate’s sleep-deprived wrath. These are simple pleasures, my friends, but one’s you only learn to appreciate when you’ve lived without them.

The Drawbacks

You’re room is going to be tiny.

Really, really tiny. Visitors will marvel as to how you’re able to physically occupy such a small space without undergoing contortionist training.

I currently live in a “Stairwell Single Room” in U.Va.’s Old Dorms. I’m not kidding you – I literally live in a glorified cupboard under the stairs. My middle name is practically “The Boy Who Lived.” I personally don’t mind my cozy living quarters, but I do admit that when I visit regular dorms – with twice as much open space, slightly bigger windows, and less clutter overall – I can get a little envious.

Admittedly, there’s not much that can be done with this drawback. Just embrace your inner HGTV god or goddess and go to town with under bed storage, bins for on top of your closet, filing cabinets for under your desk – anything to free up a little bit of breathing room for yourself.

You’re going to get lonely.

Living in a single can get more than a little bit lonely, especially if you’re a first-year living in a dorm made up of mostly doubles, like me. If the roommates living in those doubles are really tight, well, you’re going to feel even more left out. But here’s the good news: this can be combatted with relative ease if you’re willing to make an effort.

Leave your door open whenever possible.

This is something I should have done more of this semester, and it really does make it easier for people to check in on you and for you to keep up with the goings-on of the hall. Just make sure your room is cleaner than mine and prop that door open: simple as that.

Reach out to your fellow singletons.

If there are other people living in singles on your floor, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation or two! I’ve taken to affectionately calling the other singleton on my floor “Roomie,” we chat a few times a week (sometimes till 3:00 a.m.), and she lets me use her microwave whenever I’m in need of a popcorn fix. She’s been a really great support to me this semester, even though we don’t see each other around the clock. She knows the struggle of living the single life, so whenever I’m feeling a little bit neglected, she’s the one I know I can turn to.

Organize a few hall outings.

If your RA can’t pull together enough hall bonding activities for your liking, make up a few of your own! See if there’s one night a week where you can have dinner as a hall, and make an effort to go to some athletic and musical events together – a few basketball games or a capella concerts a semester can go a long way in fostering a sense of belonging with your hall.

OR, find your niche elsewhere.

When all else fails, you can spend plenty of time outside your dorm room by finding a friend group somewhere else in your college. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make into any of the more selective clubs in your first few semesters (the usual culprits being a capella groups, the tour guides, student councils, and honor committees); instead refocus your attention on more inclusive groups. See if there’s any local volunteering you’re interested in, any Greek organizations that catch your eye, or any religious groups with a really tight community. And remember: you can always do fun things by yourself – explore your college town, take a yoga class at the local studio, get a part-time job at the campus coffee shop or bookstore, or see if any club sports teams are in need of a manager – anything to get you out of your room and into the community around you. Just because you’re living sans-roommate doesn’t mean you’re doomed to an antisocial existence for the next year – you just have to be a little resourceful.

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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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