10 Things I Learned From Living With 6 Strangers

I’m not an adventurous person. I’m not spontaneous. I like structure, and a lot of it. So when I decided to live in a house with six random people last summer, I didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know it would be the best three months of my life and I would make six new best friends.

It’s been a year now since I moved into the wonderful house named “The Shire,” and each of the girls are getting ready to graduate. As I learn about their next, adventurous steps, I can’t help but reflect on the time I lived with them and the things I learned.

  1. I am a very awkward and weird person

“Hi, um…I’m Jane and I’m living in your house for three months.” Of course that was awkward at first. I’m one of the most awkward people you’ll meet besides the fact that I was taking over someone’s room for the summer. It was like freshman year all over again, where you don’t want your roommate to think you’re weird so you try to simultaneously be cool, nice, supportive, fashionable and fun. The girls quickly learned I was a clean freak who willingly wakes up at 6 a.m. and is obsessed with Scandal. I learned about their quirks too and the awkwardness soon went away.

2. Everyone has different living styles

See above: “clean freak who willingly wakes up at 6 a.m.” This doesn’t mesh too well with “living with six strangers.” I learned to appreciate everyone’s way of living, whether messy, clean, early bird or late riser. I still continued to clean and do the dishes regularly, but I don’t think they hated that…

3. There’s nothing like friendship rooted in God’s love

It’s evident in the decorations, actions and words that these girls loved God just as much as they loved one another. Part of the reason I chose to live there was because of the intentional Christian community they formed and how they encouraged one another in every facet of each others’ lives. I was surrounded by that love since day one and was challenged daily to live out my faith and talk through life.

4. Capitalism is one of the best card games and should be played on the reg

Listening to “Honey I’m Good” while playing Capitalism was a regular occurrence at The Shire. There was no greater feeling than going from super scum to president.

5. Keeping track of your friends’ lives is hard, but it’s worth it

I can’t tell you how many times I referenced the same Facebook picture all six girls were tagged in to make sure I knew each person’s name. Luckily there were pictures around the house in which I could test my knowledge as well. It was an oddly satisfying feeling when I would get all of them right. But beyond their names, how was I going to keep up with their lives too? This was probably the hardest, but most rewarding thing I learned. It takes time to build meaningful relationships, but showing concern and love for others is life-giving for both the receiver and the giver.

6. Netflix shouldn’t be the way you spend every evening

I’m not sure if it’s a college thing, but bingeing on Netflix is one of the most common ways people spend their free time. It’s a never-ending competition of “how many episodes can I cram in this block of time I have?” Living with these girls taught me to not lie in bed and watch TV when I’m bored, but to be present and experience life with one another.

7. Be a little crazy.

Normal was far too overrated with these girls. I’ll never forget the time we ate brownies while sitting on the kitchen floor, singing old nursery rhymes and camp songs. To anyone observing, this probably looked like a cult meeting, but to us, it was just a typical Wednesday night.

8. Don’t make toast at 7 a.m.

Bless the fire detector at The Shire. It would go off whenever anyone cooked anything. I learned to have a plate ready to fan the detector down. More often than not, my 7 a.m. peanut butter banana toast would wake up the entire house. Oops…

9. Exercise videos in the grassy backyard are good in theory, but not in reality.

Monday at 5:15 p.m. was family Cardio Blast time at the gym. We would almost always stroll in late, but the couple of times we missed it, or the class was cancelled, we had our own class in our backyard. BAD IDEA. The grass was so itchy, we used towels as mats and we only had cans of green beans to serve as weights. Good thing it was the backyard and not the front, because I’m sure we looked a hot mess attempting to lead our own group fitness class in 95 degree weather.

10. There will never be another summer like summer at The Shire, but lifelong friends are a fair trade-off.

The girls could have excluded me from their plans. They could have just treated me like a person simply living in the house. But they didn’t. They still don’t. I appreciate the long life talks, never-ending card games, ongoing support, lifelong friendship and love.

So thanks, Ashlyn, Amanda, Kelsey, Sarah, Delainey and Madison. As you move on in the next phases of your lives, know that I’m cheering you on and aspiring to show others love just as you did to me.

Read more about my friends, family and experiences on my blog.

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