How to part ways with a roommate or find your calling

Riley Brands

Editor’s note: This is an advice column written by in-house know-it-all Riley Brands. All answers are based on personal experience. Brands is not a licensed professional. Questions for Brands can be sent to [email protected]

Dearest Riley,

I have NO IDEA what I want to do. I don’t enjoy my major at all, and now I’m so close to graduating that it doesn’t make sense to change it. I’ve been trying to get experience through internships in other fields, but I’m struggling. How else can I find my passion?

Hard to Please

Dear Hard to Please,

I think you’ve already made two wise decisions. You realize that it probably isn’t prudent to start over with a new major, but you also aren’t letting that stop you from finding your true passion.

A good place to start is with the things that make you wonder. In your free time, when you feel relaxed and aren’t thinking about anything, what thoughts does your mind drift toward? What questions do you have to know the answer to before you can go to sleep at night? If this exploration doesn’t turn up any results that can be translated into a passion, ask yourself what things in the world worry you or rile you up.

A degree in a subject you love won’t give you all the tools you need to change the world single-handedly, but it will give you the knowledge and ability to play a small part in affecting this change and contribute to a greater sense of self-worth.

Dearest Riley,

My two roommates, both of whom I am friends with, do not get along. One of them — the sane one — has secretly decided to move out next year and asked me to go with her. How can I indirectly say “You are crazy and neither of us can live with you again” without completely ruining our friendship?

Help a sister out,
Avoids Confrontation at All Costs

Dear Avoids Confrontation,

It is always difficult to be stuck in the middle. Since you consider both of them to be your friends, I’m sure you feel conflicted and don’t want to betray either of them. However, it’s good that you’re thinking about your own sanity first. You need a place to come home to every night where you don’t have to walk on eggshells to keep the calm.

If you don’t want to ruin your friendship with the “crazy” one, I’d suggest that you couch your explanation to her in terms of incompatibility as roommates rather than focusing entirely on her faults or your suffering. Sometimes people who get along well on the occasional outing simply have different personal habits or tics at home that make living together a nightmare, like leaving wet towels on the floor or eating in bed and not returning the dirty dishes to the kitchen. Put it to her in these terms and make it abundantly clear that you want to remain friends with her.

Of course, she may feel that you’re picking favorites once she finds out you’re going to be living with your other friend, so it may be best for all three of you to sit down together. If you do this, make sure you and your “sane” friend sit apart so the conversation doesn’t seem like an attack.

Published on March 6, 2013 as "Ask Riley: on passions, roommates".