The House Rules

Jesse Shewfelt 05/03/2015

For the sake of thematic consistency, “I’m just going to lay it out for you.” Second year has a reputation of expectations, and disappointments. An idealized university house has a sink empty of dirty dishes, a washing machine without a forgotten load of laundry, floors that aren’t sticky, and table surfaces upon which you can place things. Issues are talked about, feelings are validated, and compromises are made. I mean, these are your closest university friends. Your compadres. The people that you house-hunted with in first year. You overcame room choices. You got through lease-signing. You got through adult things together! Dishes, common decency, and a supportive environment shouldn’t be the hardest thing.

But it is.

People live with people. Everyone has their way of living, though, and it’s more than living together. It’s about being able to live in a house of people who have a unique lifestyle once all doors are closed. It’s anywhere between two and eight particular people who each have a different impression of what words like clean, alone-time, chill, and f***-off actually mean. It’s a hard thing to grasp; that you have to find a healthy way of living alone, but together.

If you’ve had siblings, or been to camp, you might have an easier time. You understand that if someone ate the last cookie, there will be hell to pay… but not for longer than a day… maybe. You understand that some people prefer to wear their sweatpants inside-out, for whatever reason, and that’s normal for them. There are real, living, breathing, feeling people living under one roof, and the dissonance between each lifestyle can be treacherous; sometimes tragic when one person feels alone in their efforts to compromise. And it’s compromise that needs to be the unifying ideology.

It’s a house of reason, and a house of care, that will be the easiest house to live in. It only takes one person to dissemble a healthy environment, so it’s important to make sure you’re not them. Listen, and take criticism when it’s imperative that you do. Put your foot down when it’s absolutely imperative that you do. Navigating this period of life is difficult. It’s a learning curve for everyone, and the earlier you acknowledge that as a house, the earlier you’ll be able to feel comfortable. You can’t expect everyone to be perfect all the time, so when someone slips up it’s important to support them instead of reprimand. You might be the next one to slip up, and if you won’t budge, neither will anyone else when you need it.

Good luck with your house next year! If you got it right this year, keep it up. If it’s your first year living with peers, it can go well. You just have to work to make sure it does.


Jesse Shewfelt is an Assistant Editor at The Queen’s Tartan