Alcohol awareness is a phrase full of oxymoronic and misguided meanings. It tells us to be aware of a substance that plays a substantial role in many of our lives, yet it also tells us to beware of the plethora of mishaps it can bestow upon us.
It isn't like being aware of crime, racism or sexism. Those are things we speak out against fervently and purposefully.
Alcohol awareness is so much more difficult to discuss. We want to speak out against its bitter qualities quietly, but we praise its magical powers and potency at the same time.
We don't want to take too harsh of a stance against alcohol because we need to leave wiggle room without being hypocritical.
Stating that it's all bad means we're not taking responsibility for the late mornings, tearful fights or 2 am pizza deliveries we know so well.
Stating that it's all good means we are naïve to the deaths, detriments and downward spirals it causes some of us.
We don't want to cast ourselves as absolutely for or against it because there is too much of gray area to do that.
Chances are, we enjoy it so we seemingly cannot naysay it. We are, however, simultaneously fearful of it, so we cannot blindly cheer for it without any qualms.
So, how do we balance and project our awareness of alcohol? How do we exist in a flurry of parties and bottles while still taking time to recognize there are certain aspects of this substance that are scary beyond belief?
We talk about it. We talk about alcohol awareness as young and wild, but also as caring and educated participants in our own generation.
We say it's dangerous because it is. We say this because we have been, or know someone who has been, struck and/or killed by a drunk driver or, unfortunately, been that drunk driver ourselves.
We say we have been in a car and/or behind a wheel under the influence and were scared.
We hold ourselves and others accountable to not do it again.
We say we have been out of control because of this substance, even if it was just one time.
We say we have been, or know someone who has been, a victim of sexual assault when alcohol was involved.
We say we are uncomfortable with being and/or knowing a victim under such contingencies because we're not sure who's at fault.
While we're at it, we admit we're guilty of misplacing blame onto sexual assault victims when alcohol is involved.
We talk to the friend, family member or even our own conscious about his or her drinking problem rather than talk about him or her specifically.
We don't place label on these people; we offer support, not shots, and we stop enabling those who hurt themselves and others simply because drinking is a social norm.
We express concern and draw boundaries instead of turning a blind eye and gossiping.
We recognize we are not invincible and we share this acknowledgment.
We stop making fun of people who don't drink. We stop hiding behind the mask of normalcy and start opening our arms to different social interactions. We stop ostracizing and peer pressuring.
We stop passing judgment on people who drink. We get off of our pedestals and start embracing the idea of different capabilities and reactions, or we remove ourselves from situations we feel uncomfortable with. We stop generalizing.
We stop saying the truth comes out when we're drunk and start addressing our issues responsibly and soberly.
We stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse or dependency because we are holding on to the pain inflicted upon us by someone else's abuse or dependency. We do this by talking about it.
We reward ourselves with confidence for tackling so many of life's challenges. We stop calling ourselves sluts, idiots and losers.
We stop taking on those titles others throw at us so we are less inclined to cover our shame and hurt with boozy blame. We respect ourselves.
We stand up for our generation. So what if we are texting, taking selfies and talking in abbreviations? We are also inventing groundbreaking software, products and media platforms.
We are innovative and fast-paced. Why would we throw all of those accolades away by defining ourselves as the generation that doesn't give a f*ck about alcohol awareness?
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. It doesn't mean we suddenly project our own or others' drinking problems that may or may not exist. It means we talk about the real deal.
We talk about the 690,000 assaults that take place on college campuses every year when alcohol is involved.
We talk about the 10,000-plus young adults who die in drunken car crashes annually, and we talk about these things as if we are part of them, not above them.
We do not have to be all for or against. We do not have to be binge drinkers or nonusers without any in-between.
We don't have to roll our eyes at the people who choose to drink, dance and indulge, and we don't have to outlandishly question those who choose not to.
We simply have to be aware of the many faces and facts of alcohol and start talking about it without fearing negative social implications.
Speak up. It's cooler than you think.