My time to be a party girl came and went during my junior year of college when, fresh out of a long-distance relationship, I decided to “let loose” and join my friends at frat parties every Tuesday night. We also got thirsty on Thursdays, and it was a blast, don’t get me wrong. But looking back now, I really don’t know where I mustered up the energy for it all. It’s honestly hysterical to me that people wonder why millennials don’t go out more, because honestly, who even has the time? Gen X? Baby boomers? Bueller? I can't hear you.
TBH, I didn’t even have the time to party when I was going out four out of the seven days of the week in college. Between going to class, keeping up my 3.6 GPA, traveling in and out of the city twice a week for an internship at a prestigious magazine, and working a waitressing gig part-time, the fact that I would go out and stay out until 2 a.m. was, in hindsight, actually pretty stupid, because all I really remember is feeling tired all the time. I’m yawning just thinking about it now.
And then there's that little thing called money. At 21 years old, I was basically paying $45 every week to travel through Port Authority to be an intern in the city, which is why I had to get that part-time job as a waitress to make ends meet. I'd also opted out of the all-inclusive meal plan at my school, so most of my food purchases were being paid for with whatever actual money I could spare from my bank account. I guess because my loving parents were helping me pay for college at the time, I wasn't exactly sweating finances. These days, though, that's an entirely different story.
So why aren't millennials going out, partying it up, and spending money on booze? Well, it might be because they're a little more practical than they get credit for.
Am I the only one who’s just a wee bit confused here? Millennials get a lot of crap for being "irresponsible," and yet here they are, working their asses off, trying to make a decent living while paying off their student loan debt in the hope that the housing market will cut them a break one day, and somehow people still have the audacity to shame them for not going out partying? Seriously, how does that make any sense?
What does make sense, however, is the fact that many millennials are opting to stay home, watch Netflix, and DIY their own fruity cocktails, instead of wasting time, energy, and at least $25 at a rowdy happy hour on a Thursday night. According to new research from Mintel, roughly three in every 10 millennials prefer boozing it up under a blanket on their couch, because going out after an already-long-day at work is “too much effort,” while only 15 percent of baby boomers would rather spend their nights in. Personally, I don’t know many baby boomers heading out to the bars on weekends, but for those who do, good for them. I know myself, and to me, that cash is much better spent paying off my loans than splurging on a tower of sangria I could easily make and enjoy in the comfort of my own home.
BTW, this "antisocial" nature, or this sense of frugality, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t a millennial thing; it’s circumstantial. In an interview with Business Insider, Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, and author of the book Small Change: Money Mishaps and How to Avoid Them, said that your spending habits, whatever they may be, didn't take shape just because you were born somewhere between the 1980s and early 2000s, nor did being born in that era cause some sort of fundamental change in your brain. Rather, he explained, your spending habits seem different from generations before you simply because the world today is much different than the world your parents grew up in. He told the news outlet,
One of the findings in behavioural economics and social science is that we make decisions as a function of the environment we're in.
It's so easy to say: "It's millennials and it's personality traits" and so on, I don't think that's it, I think it's what the world around is giving them opportunities for, and sadly the world around them is not that hospitable.
Plus, aside from the fact that millennials have to think about where their money is best spent, just the act of going out, in and of itself, is exhausting on top of everything else.
In 2016, New York Post made a bold statement, identifying millennials as “the greatest generation of couch potatoes.” And look, the news outlet isn't exactly wrong, but I also don’t see any reason why this should be taken as an insult. After a long day of waking up early, working out, going to the office or to class, sprucing up your living space to make it, you know, livable, and trying to feed yourself anything that isn’t takeout, you better believe you’ve earned your right to be a “lazy” spud for a few hours.
Honestly, when I reminisce on the nights I spent out with my girlfriends, the best parts of the night were when we’d put our makeup on together, and come stumbling back into my apartment after the party was over, eat Doritos, and recap the huge moments of the night that would only be significant for a day or so after the fact. I couldn’t tell you what I wore, or who I danced with, but I can recall, almost verbatim, the late-night conversations, and how good it felt to just be young and silly with my best friends.
These days, I don’t necessarily need alcohol or too-loud music in a crowded hole-in-the-wall to make those memories. All I need is a good book, a cup of tea, and my husband by my side on a Friday night to make me happy. I don’t consider myself a cheap, antisocial millennial, but I certainly don’t have anything against going out every once in a while, either. If I "can’t hang," it’s not because of my age; it’s because life can be tiring AF, going out all the time gets expensive, and, like anyone with debt, I’ve got my mind on my money and my money on my mind. So #SorryNotSorry if your millennial friend is passing on plans; let them do them, and you do you.