These days, red Solo cups and higher education go together like cheeseburgers and fries, stars and stripes, Beyoncé and Jay Z and cats and old ladies.
In college, there seems to be a positive correlation between the quantity of alcoholic beverages you've consumed and the quality of your good times. Even high school seniors put a mini-fridge equipped for optimal six-pack storage at the top of their college shopping list.
So that begs the question, can you even consider yourself a real college student if you can count the number of shots you've taken since you've arrived at campus on one hand?
I'll be the first to admit; I've never been to a frat party. I've never seen a keg stand; I've never "slapped the bag," and I'm not entirely sure if I've ever been tipsy enough to consider myself drunk.
On Thursday nights, I walk past packed bars and avoid eye contact with scantily clad sorority girls on my way back from the closing shift at work. Most of my Friday and Saturday nights consist of movie marathons and ice cream runs.
In high school, I grew up in a household where my parents were observant, but never suffocating, with two younger sisters who looked to me as an example. I had a tight group of seven girlfriends; all of us had the same socioeconomic status and very similar family values.
I was very focused on school and sports and actively involved in my church. I wasn’t reading the dictionary for fun or thumping bibles at the lunch table or anything, but I definitely qualified as a goody two-shoes. I wasn’t necessarily ashamed of that reputation; it meant that I was healthy, successful and genuinely happy.
Alcohol was never a part of my lifestyle in high school, and I didn’t have any reservations against it becoming a part of my college life. I also wasn’t planning on actively seeking out the nearest apartment party as soon as I finished unpacking my bags.
So, now that I’ve just finished my sophomore year of college, it doesn’t really come as a surprise to me that I haven’t been to many parties or haven't tried my fair share of cheap vodkas.
I’ve definitely done some experimenting, in terms of seeing how many shots I can take without getting dizzy and deciding to stop. So far that number is a measly three half-shots; beyond that, drinking hasn’t really become anything more.
First and foremost, I have to admit that I avoid drinking and parties because I still have a lingering stigma attached to said social scene that's leftover from high school. In the back of my mind I still associate alcohol with the "bad kids," and while I know that reaction is completely irrational, it's undoubtedly one of the reasons I haven't become a big drinker in college.
Then there's the fact that I'm a total control freak. I like to make sure that all my t's are crossed and my i's are dotted, not to mention that being able to remember what happened last night might come in handy some day.
"So grandma, how did you celebrate your 19th birthday?"
"Well, I wish I could tell you that was the night I met your grandpa, that the moon was beautiful and that I had a turkey wrap at my favorite restaurant. But to be honest, Johnny, the last thing I remember was waking up behind a bush on the quad with a Sharpie mustache."
It sounds funny when you make jokes about blacking out and eating an entire chocolate cake, or "accidentally" making out with some guy(s) at some party. In all honesty, however, the possible risk of doing either of those things is so far out of my comfort zone that I'd need a GPS to find my way back.
Not to mention, this so-called version of "fun" is fueled by an altered state of mind per result of a substance. I get that some people think getting tipsy is fun and blowing off some steam is essential, but I find it difficult to rationalize needing alcohol in order to have a good time as a good thing.
I remember when I could make my own fun with a plastic shovel and dirt in my backyard. In this sense, I can see a progressive lack of creativity when it comes to finding new ways to entertain myself.
It makes me sad to see that the next level of this progression is inevitably going to be requiring a bottle of wine in lieu of a mind-numbing rom-com, and that's probably part of the reason I avoid it. I don't want drinking to become my only outlet for fun, or a buzz to become my only sense of reality.
While I'm sure I might acquire a taste for alcohol as I try more of it, part of the reason I haven't gotten into drinking in college is simply because I don't like the taste of alcohol -- along with the sensation of actually being "drunk."
Why would I force down shots of a beverage that makes my throat burn, eyes water and needs to be washed down with Crystal Light, when I can just go buy a milkshake and call it a night? Plus, how am I supposed to make it to the nearest milkshake place without being able to walk in a straight line?
When reading this article, don't immediately assume I'm a loner who spends her nights reading fan fiction and her days holed up in her professors' office hours. I find that I've built a life I can be proud of in college, based on a foundation of a few close friends, a good GPA and an exciting picture of the future.
My favorite part about choosing, whether passively or not, to go through college without going to parties is that everything I've done, I've done for myself, as myself. None of my best moments (or my most regretful) can be attributed to anything or anyone but me.
Now that's a story to tell the grandkids.
Photo via We Heart It