I learned the difference between dissociative identity disorder and role-play in my first year at UCSB. My freshman roommate, who declared in psychology during Zero Week, went a long way to help me understand.

One day, early in our first quarter, he came back from class breathless; his bike ride had been into the wind and we lived in FT, where the commute is significant. He said something I’ll never forget.

“Today, in class, I learned that you’re emotionally disturbed.”

Perhaps it would be best that I mention here that he was a whiny, passively-hostile prick. I think it’s very fortunate that he eventually abandoned his career in psychology, because his patients may not have left their “treatment” mentally intact.

In his last week as a psychology major, he interrupted my pre-midterm nap to tell me a fun fact from Psych 1. “Did you know that if you nap for longer than a half hour, you disrupt your natural sleep cycle? I don’t think I will be able to sleep if you stay up to study all night tonight.” This, of course, was the ideal kind of connection that professors hope to inspire. I had heard before then, but not internalized, that learning doesn’t dissolve outside the classroom. Who knows? Had my roommate not been paying attention in Psych 1, I might have napped a full 45 minutes.

My roommate bounced from major to major after he got bored with psychology. His next choice was environmental studies, which I considered a noticeable improvement until he came back from K-Mart and asked, “Guess who just bought special toilet paper? From now on, we’ll be wiping our asses with recycled compost.” Then, as a kind of racist joke, he switched to Spanish and never even took a class.

By the time he switched to philosophy, he had become a person with whom I really didn’t want to spend any time. One night, when I was away at my fraternity, he picked up a stranger on DP and texted me, “If ‘I’ could ‘know’ that ‘you’ are in our room right now, I would ask you to leave so I can have sex there.” I didn’t respond.

Last I checked, my freshman roommate had settled on majoring in communication. Interestingly, we have had no verbal communication since moving out of the dorms, but I did see him on Pardall this quarter and his body language was definitely making everyone uncomfortable.

My thesis is really a simple one: The core of who we are doesn’t change from year to year, activity to activity or major to major. Our interests change; our perspectives change. My 11-year-old self would probably want me playing a lot more baseball than I do, and my five-year-old self would be unsettled to discover I have no marshmallows stashed in my room. Life imposes many hats, but each one is defined by its wearer. At UCSB, I’ve made great friends in each and every discipline that my freshman-year roommate somehow managed to spoil. In the end, it’s all a matter of psychology. We, and by that I mean the vast majority of humans, were born with only one personality, and — whether you’re writing for the Nexus or perverting valuable knowledge while your roommate is trying to nap — it tends to stay with you in every setting.

Benjamin Moss doesn’t dislike his old roommate, he just wrote this article after waking up from a nap … everybody understands the crankiness that accompanies being roused from a good  snooze.


Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.