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The Joys of Share Housing: My Rental Crisis

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In my last post I alluded to the fact that I am looking for different accommodation because I cannot live with my housemates anymore. My housemates are foreign, which has never been a problem, except that two of them can be difficult to speak with, making the shared environment uncomfortable to occupy. I make excuses to go out or not to go home. It is also difficult to solve problems with people you cannot speak to effectively. One of them, a female Peruvian, speaks broken English, and it can be difficult to discern her true meaning from what she says. If she has a problem with someone else, she leaves passive-aggressive notes that are rather ambiguous or confronts that person in a bossy manner. It is difficult to tell whether her aggression stems from frustration at her limited ability to express herself, or her passion to win an argument. She also has no desire to work to earn a living. She wants to be a housewife, and so the only job she currently has is occasional babysitting. She is home all the time, watching bad TV. In between this, she “cleans” which involves disinfecting the entire house and rearranging furniture and cupboard contents-including items that don’t belong to her. She also has a shopping addiction, continually moving new things into the house and taking up more than her fair share of space. 

Another of my housemates is an older Mexican male who is extremely bitter about his wife divorcing him. His two children come over every second weekend and occupy the TV non-stop. The Peruvian female hates this, which gives me a guilty amount of pleasure. The Mexican is extremely loud when moving about the house and he brings random females with him all the time. It would be nice if he brought home a quiet one or if they could limit intercourse to once or twice per night or during weekends only. I am frequently woken multiple times between midnight and 6am by his bed creaking loudly, the wall shaking and grunting or squealing noises. It is not fun keeping silent about his habits when I meet the random women in the kitchen in the morning. It feels like I’m breaking some sort of ‘bro code’. 

Not the worst housemates by anybody’s standard, but they’re all becoming more and more inconsiderate in the noise department and it’s definitely time to leave. Here’s the problem: I want to buy a house, and that means saving for a deposit. Rental options to facilitate this are pretty much limited to share house situations. The cost of share-housing is the same or less than renting an apartment alone. I have found new housemates and we are searching for places to rent, but it’s very very difficult to find somewhere and have an application approved. 

 

 Here are the people that real estate agents and investment property owners want to lease their property to: 

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Not: 

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I can totally understand that they are afraid of this happening: 

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But we are responsible adults with full time jobs who want to keep a house tidy and clean. Why can’t real estate people see that we just want to live in a situation where we can save money and have some company after a hard day at work? 

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When it’s not your turn to be the teacher: Managing my/their/everyone’s behaviour #3

I have written before about changing friendships and those moments where I forget to turn off the teacher voice, but the problem of teaching becoming who you are rather than what you do encroaches further into my life than that. Every time I interact with a person who is unreasonable, overly officious or obdurate, it is me who takes the role of pandering to their needs in order to calm them. When I meet a person whom I find disagreeable, I make myself more agreeable to accommodate them. I even do this when that other person is in a position of authority or if they have been employed to cater to my needs. I automatically try to avoid conflict where I might have sought it in the past. I notice in the staff room at school that we all do this for each other as well. When somebody comes in with their temper in fragments, they are not often blamed for it. Instead, everyone else tries to keep out of their way or make them feel better, or simply avoid loading any further responsibility onto them. I definitely appreciate this when it is my temper that has erupted and I think it’s one of the major strengths of our faculty.

The power of placating service people is a useful skill and can win me extra consideration and bargaining powers. It’s also nice to have someone else think that I am a lovely customer. However, there are situations where managing people is a drawback.

When the habit of dispersing tension leaks into your personal life, it costs you meaningful relationships. Managing another person’s behaviour categorises them into a new box in your head. Instead of being equal to you, that person is now lesser. They become equivalent to a student and they also take mental effort to deal with. They will never be a person whose company you seek for pleasure and you will never be able to turn to that person for advice or comfort when you are having a rough time. It also ties you to someone whom you would normally meet and then forget about or refuse to see again. The problem is that you’ve gone to effort to make them feel good at the expense of an opportunity for you to feel good. They leave the interaction liking you, and you leave the interaction pitying them. You end up with a superficial friendship that becomes an obligation. It’s never comfortable and it’s frequently awkward. You end up either making all of the plans  because part of your role in their life is to organise things, OR you get no say because your role is to accompany them when they’ve got nobody. When I began to find relationships like this creeping into my life, I began to question those relationships I had pre-teaching that were a little awkward. It turns out that some of my relationships were less than ideal and I’ve begun to make more efforts with people I actually like. It’s comforting that other people just past my age have said they went through the same thing in their twenties.

Additionally, being a behaviour manager makes it difficult to behave graciously when being taught by someone else.

I got a remote first aid certification recently. It was a two-day course with a mixture of practical and theory, with a very experienced first-aider as a teacher. He had a few tics that it was difficult to ignore though. He had a habit of saying only half of a sentence and ending it as a question, as though waiting for one of the adult pupils to finish the sentence on a subject we had not been taught about yet. He was also patronising and he threw us into practical situations that we could not solve because we did not have the knowledge. I was there with a colleague from school and although the teacher’s first-aid experience and knowledge could not be questioned, we harshly critiqued his teaching methods and laughed helplessly at his manner. Our behaviour was unbecoming and something we would never tolerate from students of our own.

Teachers, like all professionals, have a multi-faceted life with many priorities and responsibilities, but I am finding that I’m turning into a person who approaches all of my priorities with my single-faceted personality. If I continue to do this, I will continue to struggle with making meaning of the place in my life that each person I know holds. In my future, I would like to keep the behaviour management at school and relax when I go home and when I go out to socialise.

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Friendship is for kids

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Friendship is a recurring theme for high school children and it is referenced constantly in the education literature about hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is a term for those things that children learn at school outside of the curriculum mandated by any Department of Education. Friendship is an important contributor to mental health and self-esteem for teenagers and it can also be a badge of popularity. For many students, it is not the quality of the friends they have that is important, but rather the quantity of friends they share moments with, or the quantity of photos taken and posted to social media. Most people will agree that it is important to have friends and that it is important to be seen by others as having friends.

As a school student, I would have said that I was friends with a great many people, and those I was closest to, I termed ‘best friends’. As an adult, my perception of friends is very different from that teenage view, and I often feel that I have very few friends. In fact, despite giving advice about quality relationships and correct treatment of others, I have plenty of people I deem ‘friends’ who do not treat me well, and there are other people that I am sure I do not treat well due to a lack of interest in them. I sometimes find myself wondering if they would call me their ‘friend’. The Book of Faces thinks that I have 300+ friends, and yet I socialise with a small group of people who do not share the same interests, beliefs, morals and viewpoints as me. It is wonderful to interact with and learn from such a diverse range of people, but there are times when I hide my own thoughts and opinions from them so as not to cause offense or seem lesser than them. As a teenager, I would have said that honesty was the most important aspect of friendship.

My teacher alter-ego takes from me a great deal of emotional energy and so I have fallen out of those circles of people who socialise by partying in night clubs every weekend. My friends and I have physically moved apart from each other as well, sometimes to different countries, to chase our careers, and we have deprioritised our commitment to each other. By moving out of my family home and into share accommodation, I have taken on the responsibility of maintaining ties with my family as well as the responsibilities of caring for myself and the share house. Social interactions with housemates are usually polite, but extended politeness is a mechanism for masking discord.

Who are my friends then? When am I being friendly and when am I being polite? How do I measure how much I care for someone and how can I measure how much they care for me? I think that it IS important to find a measure for the level of friendship you have with someone, because that measure dictates the acceptable intimacy and frequency of interaction. This measure becomes particularly important when cementing friendships with attached members of the opposite sex. I have always found it easier to converse with males. I have a simple biological answer for why this is, but it may not be the correct answer: I am not competing with males for mates and therefore I am not intimidated by them. Since this is a fairly candid post, I should also admit here that I do find the males I want to mate with intimidating and I avoid all conversation with them where possible! The only other time I struggle with males is when their mate would prefer them not to become friends with a female. I then have to find a way of keeping my distance and acting ultra-appropriate. That is definitely NOT friendship. I find many females intimidating and it takes me longer to form firm relationships with them. Perhaps that is why I forgive so many of my female ‘friends’ when they neglect to make time for me or when they do not reciprocate the effort I put into organising social events or asking after their wellbeing. It took me so long to make those friends in the first place that I do not want to let them go.

 

At the moment, I have no easy answers for which of my friends are actually friends and which ones are not, but despite experiencing only transient feelings of intimacy with others, I still have people to go climbing with, people to go to yoga with, and people I love teaching with and eating with. I have people to discuss novels, movies, politics and environmentalism with and I have plenty of people with the expertise and life experience to enrich my knowledge and challenge my opinions.

The Book of Faces reflects these relationships and displays many photos and check-ins attesting to my status as a friend of many who frequently enjoys outings with others. I am not condemning social media as a facade of friendship because I do not believe that this is so. Many people do take that point of view, but I think that social media has given opportunities for relationship development that would not exist outside of these websites. Social media allows friends and families separated by distance to converse regularly and it also helps with ice-breaking during the early stages of any friendship or co-worker interactions.

I am grateful for social media, and for the people who take the time out of their lives to share some company with me, but most of all, I am grateful to the rare few who ask how I’m going, chat to me for no purpose and acknowledge me when I am sad. Thank you to the people who share their inner thoughts with me as well as a movie theatre, staffroom, novel or climbing rope. I hope I am meeting your standards of friendship too.