Finding a home in unconventional housing
AJ Ranson writes about how Biola students can find solace, despite the fact that most have not secured on-campus housing. The key is to not worry because housing opportunities are aplenty off campus. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES
If this week has brought upon you copious amounts of stress and anxiety, or has simply made you afraid of being literally left out in the cold by Biola Housing, I’d like to help you feel a little better by sharing my story as well as giving you a few ideas of what to embrace — and what to avoid — as you seek shelter for next year.
Let me take you back to August 2010. While most of you were lying around at the beach, stressing out over some ridiculous summer school class or sitting in your mom’s living room playing Bioshock 2, I was desperately seeking housing in La Mirada. See, I had planned to live on campus, but due to the same overcrowding that now haunts our on-campus living spaces — in combination with my general lack of foresight — I landed on the streets of sunny La Mirada.
Because it was just my roommate and I, we assumed we’d be looking for an apartment. Unfortunately, the only openings in most livable apartments in the area started a week into the school year. My roommate and I began to draw up plans for turning my truck into a portable shelter. By some chance, I ran into an old friend in the Library who happened to have just secured a house with two open spaces — it was one of those moments where you realize that fretting won’t and never has done you any bit of good. This housing find proved itself to be the place I would call home for the next two years.
This is what that house has taught me:
1. Don’t Worry
Regardless of what you know or don’t know about your housing situation for next year, you will find a place to live. I promise.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Live With Randoms
Two years ago I moved into a house full of dudes — most of whom I had never met before. I had almost nothing in common with any of them. After our year together, I can legitimately say that I’d do anything for any one of those guys if they ever needed my help.
3. Be Intentional
The two best ways to screw up any housing situation is to let life get in the way of living and to allow your roommates to become circumstantial, proximity-based interactions rather than meaningful relationships. Be purposeful in having community with each other. Hang out together, talk about life and generally share in the blessings and burdens of living in community.
4. Be Honest and Have Grace
The problem with living in close community with people is that it’s extremely difficult to hide things from each other; trying to do anything but be totally honest from the get-go will only lead to a lot of strife down the road. Don’t write passive-aggressive notes to avoid confrontation. If you need to speak your mind, respect your brothers and sisters enough to give them the dignity of a real conversation.
5. Be Mindful
Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. It’s a good practice to attempt to see everyone else’s perspectives before making judgments or confronting someone about how they’ve offended you. Talk to your roommates about your own behavior. And of course, always be looking just as critically at yourself as you are at your roommates.
Unmet expectations and unforeseen intrusions are often catalysts for unnecessary conflict. Leave notes, text each other, have scheduled house meetings — the key to a house that runs smoothly is communication that flows smoothly.
You will get out of your house only what you put into it, and caring about your living space is the best way of establishing common ground with everyone with whom you live. Name your house. Take pride in it. Have fun in it. Love your neighborhood, your neighbors and your housemates well. At the end of the day, the house that lives well is the house that loves well.