Tips with Trish: Hard conversations
By Tricia Borelli
My roommate just moved out and didn’t say anything to me before doing it. I got home and all of her stuff was gone! I had to ask the RA what happened. WTF? I know we weren’t best friends or anything but I thought a conversation might have been in order before just moving out. What is it with people and communication these days?
You are not the first person to talk to me about people avoiding hard conversations. Whether it’s roommates moving out without warning or interested individuals who ghost each other after a hook-up; lots of people are clearly in need of some better communication skills.
Regarding the roommate situation, I’m sorry that you didn’t get the discussion you deserved. I am a bit surprised that you did not have a conversation with the Resident Advisor and your roommate before she headed out. In most cases, I know that RA’s encourage students to talk with their roommate about problems that may have come up before making the decision to vacate. In many situations, the RA tries to mediate and figure out a better solution than moving out. For some reason this didn’t happen and you ended up blindsided. Unfortunately, we are not always privy to all of the information.
Almost everyone dreads having difficult or challenging conversations but the more we avoid it, the more anxiety it brings. Having hard conversations is a part of life. At some point we will have to deliver unpleasant news, talk about something that needs to change or bring up an issue that is uncomfortable. The more we avoid these types of discussions, the harder they will be going forward. The other problem with avoidance is that putting it off only allows it to continue and potentially get worse.
And the thing about anxiety is it just breeds more anxiety. And much of the time, it is the anticipation of the conversation that is actually worse than the real conversation. The issue takes up space in your mind and distracts you from other important issues that deserve your attention.
It makes sense that your roommate did not want to have a conflict or precipitate bad feelings but the anger and loss from not having the conversation is quite possibly going to last longer for both of you. Loras is a small campus so you are going to see each other. If you are up for it, ask her to meet up. Approach her, tell her your honest feelings and allow the two of you to sit with the discomfort for a few minutes. Then go your separate ways.
There may be lots of reasons that you two weren’t compatible, including you both dealing differently with conflict. If it makes you feel any better, I think she is the one who is going to suffer in the long run if she doesn’t figure out how to have hard conversations.