Chores don’t matter? Try telling your roommate…
By Kristi Ragsdale
When I went off to college I joined a sorority. I had not planned on it, or given much thought to it before college, but there I was– away from home the first time, new environment, new people, and feeling a little overwhelmed. Looking back on my college experience, I’m convinced that joining a sorority helped make it an enriching opportunity I would not have had otherwise. It produced long standing friendships, connected me with service opportunities, and probably even a little extra needed emotional support for someone leaving home for the first time. And that is why whenever I hear the girls at Eva Carlston Academy complain, “I can’t wait until I leave treatment where no one will care if I do chores,” I get a little smile and chuckle to myself, “Then you’d better not join a sorority!” Chores were the number one issue in my sorority that predicted whether we were getting along or not. That’s right– chores. Not contrasting interests, or politics, or musical tastes, or personalities. Chores. When there was conflict and disagreements, 9 times out of 10 it was about someone not helping out to clean, or do the dishes, or keep the house tidy, or assuming “someone else will take care of that.” When everyone was doing their part to help out with the house we had a sense of community and support, and dealing with other the other issues that can come up felt manageable. When even one or two people were not pulling their weight it seemed to spiral everything else out of balance, with arguments, isolation, “house meetings,” and plenty of tears usually being the result! But you know what else? It was not too different after college, where I saw that same dynamic with roommates, coworkers, significant others, and even now with my fellow Eva Carlston Academy coworkers.
There are a lot of important real life lessons we try to teach the girls at Eva Carlston every day. A lot of those lessons can cover pretty big, crucial topics for sure. But for me personally I get passionate whenever I can have a teaching interaction with the girls around chores. And I love seeing as they grow emotionally and make progress in their therapy how that starts to manifest in their attitude around chores. Their mindset shifts from “I hate chores,” “This is pointless,” and “I can’t do this,” to a sense of confidence, resiliency, and community. And it is wonderful to see them teach the newer students how chores are simply part of what we do to help each other out and take pride in our home. I also secretly take pleasure in the knowledge that those skills will help them be happy and successful at any college, work, or home situation they have for the rest of their lives…. whether they join a sorority or not.
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