Yours truly has had roommates, dorm mates, apartment mates, house mates, duplex mates… you name it. It was torture. Hello, I am an introvert.
I’m not blaming my roommates; they were all fine. It’s me. It’s the way I am built – I need more solitude than most people.
I cannot tell you how best to live as an introvert with people in your home, because, frankly, I was terrible at it. But I did learn a few things that made me less miserable in a crowd.
Tip#1 Find the benefits
Write it down, embroider it on a pillow, slap it on your face if that’s what it takes to remember benefits of having people in your house.
You can endure almost anything well if you think it’s for your good. This doesn’t mean you should remain there with those people; it just a tactic to endure with less stress.
Tip#2 Carve out a space for yourself
You can have a special place in your home. (Your room, perhaps. Or an extra long time in the bathroom). A place that’s just your own – your own mini home within a home. This is where you are free to do as you please. Savor that.
Now, let’s say there is no place like this in your home. Can you find such a place outside of your home, like a park, or a stand of trees, or a coffee shop, or a corn field? Can you stay there for as long as you need to, then eventually go to your room to sleep?
Sometimes writing in a journal -even in a crowd- can be that mental home within a home, a space that is just your own (like a turtle toting its shell).
Tip#3 Stretch your socializing muscles and get out there with your roommates more
Come out to the common area and say “Hi” to your roommates for a few minutes. Catch up on the day. (I know you don’t like chit chat, but non-introverts often do. It suggests you care.) Then dip back out into your introvert space. If you are having fun, stay longer.
You’re establishing good will and stretching yourself a bit. This is also practice for when you have your own space and there is no longer the roommate to be a social buffer, to answer the door for repair personnel and what not.
Tip#4 Anticipate -in writing- the day that you will have your own space.
I laid out plans that I called THE GREAT ESCAPE. It has three phases – “Out of,” “Through” and “Into.” It’s not enough to want to escape FROM. You can escape and go anywhere, perhaps even to a worse situation. You must also plan and anticipate running TO something that you want. In that way your planning isn’t all negative.
I slowly chipped away at the items listed under each phase. It felt good to accomplish a little bit of independence. This small progress helped to sustain me. When a chance to grab a space to myself cropped up, I leaped at it since I already knew that is was close to what I wanted. Which brings me to the next point.
Tip#5 Sometimes the escape route isn’t the most ideal, but can be a stepping stone
Knowing what you want is great. But don’t dismiss what could be the stepping stone to your next phase just because it’s not THE dream space.
This is why it is crucial to understand your escape plan in detail so you’ll know a portion of it when you see it.
Tip#6 Prepare for fear when you do finally have your own space
Sometimes when you get what you want you start to become a little afraid. You are, after all, changing your identity from one with roommates to one without. Everything is on you.
We’ve already discussed how to Prepare for Fear, on this website. Basically, you remind yourself that this fear means you are getting closer to your dream. Also, use this fear to remind yourself of other success in your life. You succeeded then, you can handle this new season of life as well.
Once you have your own space to yourself, it is wonderful. You can still socialize with people during the work hours and social hours, but once you come home… Ah! Sanctuary!
P.S. I have just found this article. Check out the Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with Roommates over at Dear, Introvert for more ideas.
P.P.S. You might also try The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Laney, Psy.D. There isn’t a section specifically for roommates, but try Part 2, Section 6 which is about Socializing and think in terms of housemates. That might help.