Opinion: Housing is Unpredictable, But So is Life

It’s finally over. The anxious waiting. The panicky roommate speed dating. The threats of moving off campus, or even more dramatically, of transferring. The ecstatic winners and devastated losers of the housing process will now consolidate their takings and settle into a vision of what the coming year will look like.

The conclusion most students draw from the process is that BC housing is an absurd, hellish and deeply flawed system; all this is undeniable. But, after witnessing a week of glorified temper tantrums and meltdowns, I’ve come to think that there is a more profound lesson to be learned.

The housing process is unpredictable and stressful (it’s only natural to place a huge amount of importance on where you make your home), but so is life! And as hard as it is to swallow, you can’t always get what you want. Let me repeat, you cannot always get what you want. Play the Rolling Stones on repeat, have a good cry.

The truth of the matter is most BC students have hardly experienced this lesson in their own lives up to this point. Most of us have gotten an awful lot of what we want, be it in the form of academic success, thriving at our sports and activities, or being accepted to BC in the first place.


Victoria Fisher / Gavel Media

We’ve come to think that when we take all the necessary steps, when we do it all right, we consequently get what we want. Studying and going to class (for the most part) gets us the grade. Working out obsessively at the Plex earns us the bodies we want.

But when things are out of our control, when someone or something else holds our fate in its hands, this equation doesn’t apply. Short of performing a successful voodoo spell, there is nothing we can do to influence the results. There is a fair chance that we won’t get what we want, and we’re powerless of changing that.

After housing, perhaps the second most prominent complaint that BC students have about our school is the exclusivity of its clubs and activities and their lack of hesitation in rejecting applicants. Who are they to reject us? We’ve always been smart, well received and successful.

In reality, they have every right to reject us. Our application doesn’t entitle us to be in a club, just as our participation in the housing lottery doesn’t entitle us to an 8-man. We’re long past the days of participation medals and most-improved-player awards.

Once we’ve put in the work, filled out the application and gone to the interview, the rest is out of our control. Whether we like it or not, we’re not the masters of every turning point in our lives, and this means sometimes life will take us where we don't want or intend to go.

Potential employers will reject us, and we will end up living in crappy New York City apartments with roommates that at one point seemed normal. We’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unpredictability.

But, this doesn’t mean the world is a sad place of never-fulfilled wishes and broken dreams.

When I reflect back on the highlight reel of my life, the vast majority of those experiences were completely unexpected: my rejection from an exclusive choir stemmed into me joining the high school newspaper staff, and a subpar, planned outing to the North End unexpectedly turned into watching Childish Gambino perform at Boston Calling.

99%* of the content of our lives is out of our hands--a thought that should scare any sensible person--but that doesn’t mean that these initially uncomfortable, unplanned moments are bad. In fact, many of them turn out to be better than we ever could have imagined.

So, BC, lean into the discomfort of the housing system. It’s only just one episode in our delightfully unpredictable lives.

*A very rough estimate


Ella Jenak