There’s a stigma about living alone at Yale. The joys of suite living are touted everywhere, from the daily tours given to potential applicants to the residential life panels offered for parents and prefrosh during Bulldog Days. So much emphasis is put on living in a suite with your four or five best friends that the desire to live alone can be seen as a personal failure. My parents, too, lived with some of their best friends here at Yale and I grew up hearing about how much fun it was to hang out together in the suite common room and talk late into the night before falling asleep. When I first came to Yale three years ago, that was the idyllic suite life I craved.
I’m here to unashamedly say that for my senior year — the capstone to my Yale tenure — I will be living alone. And I think that for many reasons this is preferable to living in a suite.
First of all, there’s the drama of room selection. This is more of an issue sophomore and junior years, but let’s be honest: No one wants the double. Once you’ve drawn your suite (which is a whole other battle), it all boils down to who gets shafted into the double. Any card you have, you play: weird sleep schedule? Overly neat or messy? Significant other? They’re all incentives for you, and not someone else, to have your own room. The goal is to be desirable enough that people want to live with you, but enough of a pain that no one wants to be your roommate. It’s a fine line that many people (but not myself) have mastered, and after compromising what I wanted out of my junior year for the sake of group harmony, I decided to prioritize my own needs.
Secondly, there’s the issue of cleaning. Now, I know I fall on the neater end of the cleanliness scale, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for everyone to share the burden of tidying and taking out the trash. Often, one or two people in my suite end up doing the majority of the cleaning while everyone else, riding on the coattails of “being busy,” don’t do as much. The solution is either to nag your suitemates, which is unpleasant for everyone, or to let the trash pile up in a futile attempt to inspire someone else to step in. Rather than harp to my friends about how open food and trash attract bugs and rodents, I’d rather just have a place where I can enforce my own standards without having to impose them on everyone else.
And finally, there’s just the desire to be by yourself for self-care purposes. I know I’m not the only introvert at Yale. Parties tire me out after a short while, and I love nothing more than curling up with a mug of tea and a book in my bed to recharge and destress. But when you’re in a suite, other peoples’ stress follows you. No one wants to walk into a suite and have it feel like Bass Library during midterms. Living with other stressed people just adds to your stress unnecessarily. And when people are stressed and living together, or even just having a bad day, it’s impossible to find solace in your own room. Even though I want to help people talk out problems and vent, a person can only take so much before they need to retreat and care for themselves. In situations like these, space allows people to be better, more supportive friends.
I will miss living with people now and again. Yelling across the suite about a funny cat video, laughing in the common room and catching up with everyone on a daily basis are all moments that I treasure. I love my current suitemates dearly, but just because I won’t be living with them doesn’t mean we won’t remain friends or that they matter any less to me. I’m not ashamed to prioritize what I need out of my last year at Yale: It just happens to involve a lot of quiet and personal space. So while I’ll be living alone, I won’t be lonely. I’m just a couple doors away.
Claire Williamson is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .