The idea of moving to a college dorm room is sometimes so exciting that people forget about the fact that they, as extroverts or introverts, have an impact on their soon-to-be roommate’s university experience, too.
Seniors Millie Smith and Hannah Britton have had a year-long roommate relationship that, at the beginning, didn’t sound that appealing since both of them are known to be quite extroverted.
“Hannah was in my room one day in the spring [of last year],” Smith said, sitting down on her futon while Britton lays comfortably on her bed. “It was really funny because she was like, ‘Hey! we should be roommates,’ or something along those lines.”
Smith remembers having a conversation with a friend that morning where she was stressing out about the fact that she was not going to be an RA anymore, thus, needing a roommate.
“We were going through options, and she was like ‘Oh, Hannah Britton!'” Smith said, “and I was like, ‘Oh I love her! But I feel like we would kill each other.'”
But later that day, Britton said to Smith, “Why don’t we try to be roommates?” and Smith replied: “I should think about it – why do I think that we would kill each other?”
Between the laughs of recounting the story of how they decided to be roommates for their last year of college, Britton said, “We didn’t end up killing each other.”
According to Psychology Today, in a country where extroverts make up to 75 percent of the total population while introverts are merely 25 percent, we could conclude that it’s ruled by extroverts. The difference between the two is the processing of situations and the way each person charges their energy. Extroverts charge externally, which is why they tend to be more transparent and socially engaged, and they tend to process information quicker. Introverts charge internally, needing their quiet time for internal reflection, and their information processing is slower.
Britton said she thinks that even though she and Smith are extroverts, it manifests in different ways.
“I think we agree upon different things together,” Britton said. “We both value the same things when it comes to having our room clean, et cetera. I think, like, extroverts know certain situations and groups of people that they like to be with, vibe with. So when we are with those groups, there is not a power struggle.”
Robert Knight, author of Balanced Living: Don’t Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness, describes the dynamics between introverts and extroverts.
“There’s this thing called ‘speak up or shut up,'” said Knight in a phone interview. “Introverts need to speak more, and extroverts need to shut up more. Introverts tend to be better listeners, and extroverts tend to be waiting for their time to talk.”
Right now, Britton and Smith are trying to apply this idea in their lives.
Britton said she loves to listen to Smith talk, and both like to talk, too. They understand that the other needs to rejuvenate in certain ways, and they don’t get offended when the other person wants to have her alone time by either going for a drive or staying in the library for the evening.
“We understand that this [dorm room], it’s kind of our sanctuary,” Britton said. “We recognize this place for what it’s worth, and we sense each other’s energy really well.”
The idea of accommodating other people is something Knight emphasizes.
Jaime Calvin, introvert, and her extroverted roommate, Blaire Koomler embody this idea.
“We found a good balance,” Calvin said. “I know what she needs, and she knows what I need. And we just kind of let each other have our space.”
Calvin and Koomler, both juniors, have been roommates for two years now. They think it wasn’t difficult to accommodate to the needs of the other, knowing how many things they had in common. But, like in every relationship, the start was rough.
“At the beginning, I was like, ‘Let’s do all these fun and exciting things!'” Koomler said, sitting on her desk while Calvin listened patiently on their futon. “I’m the type of person that likes to go out, do things and be around people all the time. And Jaime is too. It’s not like she hates people. But, I mean, there’s obviously a lot more times where I would rather go out and do things where we don’t, but it’s not like it’s a problem.”
With both being athletes and having similar schedules, they get to share things like soccer and meals together, making their bonding and understanding of each other easy.
“I like being around people for the most part,” Calvin said. “It’s once I reach my limit that I want to be by myself.
She said she wouldn’t prefer living with an introverted person who always preferred to be by herself.
“If I had [to room with] someone like that, I don’t think it would go very well,” she said. “I still like to have conversations, go out and do things every once in a while.”
Trying to find a balance in the relationship and trying to understand the needs of each other is what makes rooming with another person easy. Even similarities between different cultures can bring a little help into the roommate equation.
Roommates Sunanda Thompson, who is from Jamaica, and Jemimah Obileye, who is from Nigeria, share similarities in culture that helped them connect.
“We bonded over the fact that we’re both international students, so that made it easier to relate to each other,” Thompson said.
Starting their third year of rooming together and both being introverts, they understand each other.
“I don’t think I’ve ever needed alone time with just myself, I mean… ” Thompson trails off.
Obileye finishes her sentence: “Yeah, sometimes we are in the same room and we’d talk. Later she’s watching something, [and] I’m watching something too.”
Finding a space where both can have their quiet time alone hasn’t been an issue due to their jobs, school and other extracurricular activities. It leaves them to meet at night.
“If I’m tired, or I want to watch a Korean drama, and she is wanting to go to sleep, she probably would want the lights off,” Obileye said when asked about how difficult it could get to have an extroverted roommate. “We both stay up at night to work. She works at night more in the room than I do, so sometimes the lights are on and I don’t have a problem with that.”
Obileye thinks extroverts tend to be more active during the day due to their social nature, and at night, they just want to reset. So, thanks to her sleeping patterns and busyness, having to accommodate to that would be a problem.
“Living with her feels comfortable,” Thompson said.
Obileye responds with “awwwww.”
“I don’t think we go out of each other’s way just to make something happen,” Thompson said. “It was a match made in heaven.”