Thinking Outside of Yourself

by Emily Jasper on June 7, 2011

Since I’m interning for the summer in St. Louis, I’m staying with my parents. I’ve been living on my own for a while, so it’s been a little weird to have two more people sharing the same space as me. In fact, it feels like there’s a lot more going on.

Here’s an example: I was trying to get a load of laundry into the washer just as my mom was leaving for an evening meeting. I walked her out to the garage and told her to drive safely. I get back inside, start the washer, and get dinner started for my dad and myself. As we clear the dishes, I check the washer to see if it’s time to move things to the dryer. I start pulling things out, and I realize: I never put in the soap.

Now, there are some clothes that are perfectly fine after a rinse. These clothes, however, were the post-gym workout clothes. They needed the soap.

Soap might just seem like a little thing, but I realized that there’s a certain talent required to match your individual routine to that of a roommate or family member. I can understand why it might be rocky for couples to move in with each other, even if it is in an effort to get used to each others’ habits. Sure, it’s easy if you are two (or more) separate entities that don’t interact, but if you are consciously relating to another person, everything changes.

I want to walk my mom out, I want to help with dinner, and I want to participate in daily living with my family instead of just acting like I’m renting a room. So I forget the soap for the laundry, or I watch a ton of Cardinals baseball because that’s my dad’s favorite evening activity, even if it means I miss So You Think You Can Dance.

Having other people around might be a little distracting to my own routine, but those people are also there “just in case.” Just in case I forget my shoes after going to the gym or if the traffic is too clogged for me to get home in time to cook dinner. I’ll get my shoes or someone else will take a turn cooking dinner that night. If these people are my “just in case,” I want to make sure I do the same.

This doesn’t just apply to those Gen-Yers who have to boomerang back to the nest, but to anyone who might not really be living on his or her own. Think about it beyond roommates: you have neighbors, members in your community, coworkers, faith leaders, and all kinds of other people who you might interact with each and every day. Are you integrating these people in to your daily routine, or just moving independently and avoiding relating to others?

Meet someone new at the golf course or pool, say “Thank you and have a nice day!” to the baristas who serve your coffee, invite someone who’s a little shy to lunch with your team, or perhaps bring your roommate her shoes she may have forgotten.

These people could distract you a little, but why not have a little distraction for all the value you get from the relationship?

Photo credit.