The five stages of being locked out of your dorm

A handy guide to my recurring torment


As a rookie first-year with a pitifully-short memory span, I tend to forget everything from what time I have my next class to when an assignment is due to — most tragically — where I put my dorm key.

Constantly misplacing my key means that I spend a lot of time suffering the torment of being locked out of a dorm — an experience I’m sure most of us have been through at least once. Since it happens so often, I’ve decided to map out the five stages* to guide you through the next time you find yourself trapped on the wrong side of the door.

Stage One — Denial

“Wait,” you think, “I definitely had my key just a second ago. There is no way I left it in my room. I wouldn’t make that mistake.” 

You rummage wildly through your pockets. You open your backpack and pull out all your books in a panic. You delve deep into your bag and discover hidden vestiges of weird crumbs, wrappers and pieces of lint, but no key.

It doesn’t matter. It is literally impossible that you locked yourself out.

Stage Two — Anger

You locked yourself out. Now comes the fury. You yell a string of obscenities and consider breaking the door down. 

“This is bulls—t,” you think. “Why did the key decide to get lost? Dorms were a mistake and so was college and so was everything.”

You text your roommate in anger and ask when he’ll be back. It won’t be for a while. Everything sucks. The universe is made of chaos and insanity. 

Stage Three — Bargaining

It doesn’t matter. You’re smart — you can think of a way in. One lock against your brains? Please. You pull up a YouTube video on how to pick locks. Problem solved. Wait, it looks complicated and you need a lock pick. 

“S—t!” you think. 

No, don’t get angry. Angry was an emotion permissible only in Stage Two. Now you’re being rational. There has to be a way in. There has to.

Stage Four — Depression

There’s no way in. You’ve failed. You’re a failure. You think you’re cut out for college? You just locked yourself out of your own dorm, idiot. What’s worse — it’s for the 11th time this week! Now, you’ll probably starve or something because you were too stupid to double check one pocket. You should be ashamed of yourself. Nothing you ever do will matter. Everything ends in ruin. All is lost.

Stage Five — Acceptance

Oh, hey — your roommate’s back. That’s cool. You’re back in your dorm and reunited with your key. No big deal. It’s not like it was a serious situation anyways. Whatever. It’s not like you’ll do it again.

You’ll definitely do it again.

*Those of you who have studied psychology might have noticed that my model of being locked out of your dorm lines up with the traditional psychological model of the five stages of grief. This is absolutely not a coincidence.

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