Observations of a roommate

My mornings follow a pretty set schedule. 

Wake up at 7, do yoga by 8, walk into the kitchen, and start preparing breakfast.

I notice the dish rag on the oven is hanging backwards. 

Weird, okay.

Flip it around, and continue preparing breakfast. 

I lean over, open the cupboard, reach in for a pan, and come out with… 

A colander?

Weird, okay.

Put the colander back, rearrange the pots and pans, and continue preparing breakfast.

Eggs, cracked. English muffin, toasting. I throw open the second drawer, reach in for a spatula ––

Wait… is the ½ cup sitting on top of the ¼ and ⅓? 

Weird, okay.

Put the ½ cup in its place, grab a spatula, and continue preparing breakfast.

When you live with other people, funny things like this happen. Dishes get put back differently than you’d expect, towels get folded a little wonky, the toilet paper ends up on the roll the wrong way (and we all know which way that is 👀). 

But this is not a lesson for my roommates. This is a lesson for me.

Welcome to our first official Grow and Let Go post, where we learn to question our perspectives and let go of outdated emotional weight. Maybe it’s my old age or my travels or my college degree (or the multitudinous and starkly contrasting array of roommates who accompanied each of these experiences) but I’m starting to understand the world differently. More importantly, I’m starting to understand that the way I perceive the world around me is not the only way the world around me is perceived.

I grew up in a house where dirty dishes go in the dishwasher; where towels are meant for decoration, not for wiping toothpaste off your face; where “I told you and I told you” means something (and usually it means you’re in big trouble). I also grew up surrounding myself with relatively like-minded people, those who affirm my beliefs rather than challenging them. This wasn’t out of laziness or intentional exclusion of new perspectives, but simply a side effect of living in a small town, circulating small social circles, and learning to navigate the world through my own small mind.

I’m sure you could see how this lifelong echo chamber left me fucked up (read: equally unable to hear out opposition and unable to admit my own faults). Now that I’m expanding my horizons and genuinely trying to hear other people’s perspectives, I’m also navigating how to truly see other people’s perspectives. 

Learning to see through my roommates’ literal points of view is a great place to start.

When I take a pan out of the cupboard, I remember where I got it and know where I’m going to put it back. But Damon is new here, and is still working to adjust to where I store the dishes. (Zach knows enough to get by, but we still don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.)

Some people focus on how things are organized in the cupboards –– which pan goes where and how the colanders stack best. Others focus more on what’s in the cupboards –– which one do I open when I need a pot, pan, lid, and where do we keep the blender again?

When I see the dish rag on our oven, I see the pattern: the little wolf crouching over the word “hangry” on the front. But Zach sees a tool that’s there to simplify his cook-flow which, ultimately, is the dish rag’s intended purpose.

He isn’t ignoring the cartoon on the dishrag and I’m not looking too deeply into it. The nature of how we perceive the world around us is just fundamentally different.

The way I perceive the world around me is not the only way the world around me is perceived.

Finding things in places I don’t expect them to be used to feel like an irritating chore. Once I started trying to genuinely understand how my roommates see our house, it became a fun game. Instead of immediately “fixing” something or putting it back the way I normally would, I question why I value “my way” in the first place.

If the little spoons end up in the section where I normally put the forks, can I resist immediately moving them or getting angry, and just step back and observe? 

Maybe that’s where the spoons went in my roommates’ houses growing up. Maybe the spoons make more sense in their newfound silverware slot. Maybe I take a moment to appreciate the effort they took to put the silverware away at all. Maybe I grab a spoon, close the silverware drawer, and start eating breakfast because the location of the little spoons does absolutely nothing to change the course of my day (unless I let it).  

The way I perceive the world around me is not the only way the world around me is perceived.

Why get angry just because people see things differently than I do? Why waste energy “fixing” things that aren’t necessarily wrong in the first place?

Changing the way I view shared kitchen utensils is only the tip of the understanding-differing-opinions iceberg. But I can’t expect myself to understand why some people like screamo bands, or how someone can simultaneously be anti-abortion and anti-mask, or how there are people on this planet who genuinely don’t like the color pink, without starting small first.

Polarizing ideals exist everywhere from the kitchen to the political sphere to the spacetime continuum. We can’t work to find common ground without first working to understand the world (or galaxy) through other people’s perspectives alongside our own.

With love and an ever-expanding set of worldviews,


In next month’s Grow and Let Go, we’ll discuss how to outgrow our outdated perspectives.

Featured image by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

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