We are fluctuating people who fall in love with escapism and nostalgia, fleeting memories threaded together in blurs and frays.
We crave the times when we feel free, like sitting on laps, hanging outside taxi windows with the rush of the wind rustling through our hair.
We’re a generation defined by fluidity and instability. We encounter all sorts of people coming and going from our lives, but there is no sense of home.
This is partially why we are drawn to the nightlife; it lures us into becoming the people we want to be, if only for one night.
I used to be someone who lived purely for the weekend. The routine was always the same: Borrow a loose-fitting shirt, cake on black eyeliner, buy cheap booze with a fake ID (which I felt so proud to own at the time).
I was seeking sin and debauchery disguised as a dingy nightclub, a world away from sober texts and real responsibilities.
Each night started the same, with clinking glasses and swearing tonight would be our night. I drank to forget the issues that plagued me during the week.
When I was drinking, I felt so alive and in my element; the fast-paced social atmosphere and carefree attitudes made me feel breathless and exhilarated.
I’d have incoherent conversations with strangers that felt so genuine; I relished any connection I could make with people in a place where connections flowed much smoother than they would in the daytime.
Then, the morning would arrive; that feeling, that elation, wasn’t there anymore. Reality struck hard and I didn’t want to deal with it. I would simply wait until the next weekend to revive myself again.
What I didn’t realize was that amidst my reckless behavior and crazy stories, I was running away from myself. I never understood why my nights always started off so positive and hopeful, but always ended in self-loathing and doubt.
There would be greasy pizza involved, the rough hands of a guy I didn’t care about and secret trips to a shady bar bathroom to cut one more line. I convinced myself this was me living, taking the most that life could offer me.
Willful ignorance shielded me from realizing there was more to life than partying. My aspirations and goals didn’t exist in that world. But, they didn’t exist in the daylight, either.
It took years filled with the same mornings of waking up, reeking of alcohol and regrets for me to come to terms with the idea that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. The semester I studied abroad in Shanghai was when the realization hit.
Anyone who has studied abroad before can relate to the feeling of being so far removed from your comfort zone that everything of which you were once so sure collapses beneath you.
Each night, I felt the same pounding of the bass, an unfamiliar arm slipping around my waist, the burning sensation of vodka down my throat, and each time, the people I was with felt indistinguishable. One could replace another and I wouldn’t have noticed.
Even at home, I would always leave my close friends in pursuit of hanging out only with other people at parties.
There, too, I was lost in a sea of interchangeable people who, at the end of the day, didn’t care about me. I didn’t care about them, either; I just convinced myself I did.
I felt more alone than ever, but I realized the loneliness I felt was present for years; I was always unaware of it. It simply manifested differently and in a more obvious way.
I recognized that partying and spending time with people I didn’t know did not help me escape loneliness; it fed into it.
I'm not disparaging the value of meeting new people at bars or parties, rather, it was the monotony of living for the same kind of nights, over and over again, that led me to a breaking point. I was so invested in my nightlife that it prevented me from enjoying life outside of it.
No one wants to admit there is a certain note of loneliness in the Millennial nightlife. We’re encouraged to live in the moment and to take chances while we’re still young, but applying that logic to real life doesn’t always work out.
In one recent night out, I remember seeing couples absolutely wasted, making out in corners or on the curb, and I could sense this urgency, this desperation, and it exposed the realities of our party lives to me.
In it, I saw our culture’s view of what the nightlife can be: seeking meaningless connections that only matter in the moment.
Only a few years ago, I would have envied of those couples; I would have wished I, too, could be swept away by that mysterious new guy, losing myself in the throes of intoxicated romance.
Today, it just feels naïve. Nightlife means something totally different to me today.
I go out with my friends, expecting to have fun with them and spend most of the time with them, as opposed to wandering around aimlessly, trying to become best friends with strangers.
I don’t drink to forget because I’m trying to handle my issues soberly and find happiness in sincere connections.
Gone are the days of kneeling over a toilet, sobbing and vomiting, kicking off my heels and wiping the smeared black kohl from under my eyes.
Now, I’m confident I can get drunk and still hang outside the taxi window, but I’m not compelled to lose myself.
I often wonder if it is necessary to undergo such a toxic phase in order to reach the point of resolution and maturity for which we strive. I believe we are much smarter than that. I mean, aren’t we?
We remember our nights as blurred and vague; they are a montage of faces, a girl tossing her hair over her shoulder, loud shouts over the music, a burning cigarette curling down. Yet, there is a sense of inherent emptiness in our world of dressing up and binge-drinking.
We’re tirelessly searching for an experience, a surprise, a certain someone to take us away and fulfill an expectation that we don't exactly know why we have. Sometimes, we party for good reasons; sometimes, we party for the bad ones.
We look for a sense of security in the wrong places, in the midst of all that is exciting and new.
I haven’t found that peace of mind yet, but slowly, I am getting there.