Ahhh roommates — nearly everyone had one, has one, or will have one at some point in their lifetime. This glorious accommodation can occur in college or after you realize at 23 years old, you cannot afford the rent of that spacious NYC apartment you always dreamed of. Instead, why not enjoy that same apartment for a fraction of the cost with one, two, three, or perhaps four others? The word “roommate” tends to spark a diverse range of emotions depending on the person you talk to. Some reminisce about the fond times with their roommate they became best friends with. Others recoil in dismay recounting horror stories about the insane one they did not get along with or the thief that stole their clothes and precious snacks.

Just when I thought the stress of applying and hearing back from colleges was over, it hit me that I will soon part with 18 luxurious years of personal space. Even after living with my beloved but sometimes hectic household of four people, including my slovenly brother, I had my own sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a long day. The room that my dad painted pink, then green, and then blue. The room where stories were read and lullabies were sung. The room where I blasted music and danced until my parents yelled at me because the house sounded like it was falling down. In about 207 days, I will be spending my first night in a dorm with a stranger, well, hopefully not a complete stranger.

Thanks to the advances of modern technology, it’s quite easy to ferret out your future classmates and potential roommates through social media. I’m sure those choosing the college route next year have likely joined a few admitted student Facebook groups. People often share a few photos and tidbits of information about themselves like where they’re from, what they’ll study, and some of their interests. I would be lying if I said I haven’t come across some quirky characters. One of my favorites was Brad (*names have been changed to protect the innocent). What Brad is looking forward to the most is “definitely partying” because “come on who isn’t?” He didn’t fail to throw in how “school is important too, I guess.” Yet another morsel of information I couldn’t live without was Tammy mentioning she dyed her hair nine different colors since the start of high school. What fun!

In the midst of these various personalities with whom I will soon attend school, I have been creating a list of traits I want in a roommate. Thankfully, I have the option of choosing one, while others may not.

She will preferably:

  • Keep her space clean. (Sorry, no pigsty for me!)
  • Share my love of animals, particularly cats.
  • Be studious, but can have a good time.
  • Motivate me to be active, but not be a fitness fanatic. (I refuse to be dragged out of bed at 6 a.m. to go on a run.)
  • Enjoy eating and be my dinner date from time to time.
  • Join me for an occasional complaint session, but call me out when it gets excessive.

This is my list for now. I add something daily and remove it when I realize my criteria is draconian. However, the points above are my prerequisites. After all, I will be living with this person.

Whether you’re heading off to college, pursuing a job, or joining the armed forces next year, chances are you won’t be living alone. With that, I wish you all the best in (hopefully) securing a cooperative, friendly, and respectful roommate and — sayonara to personal space!

Shelby Connor is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.