I Don't Like Clubbing or Partying, and That's Totally Okay

When I started college, I was a measly 17 years old. I never went to parties in high school, and I didn’t particularly like the idea of dressing up and dancing in a crowded room full of intoxicated strangers. My anxiety made these kinds of environments intolerable. But alas, I was a college student in New York City, and clubbing was the thing to do. So, on the night of my 18th birthday, my friends convinced me to go to a club.

I didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t stand the loud music, the sweaty people pushing me left and right, and the guys that put their hands on me without my consent. I couldn’t believe that I really spent my birthday bursting my own eardrums and getting sexually harassed just because I didn’t want to disappoint or bore my friends. But I continued to go to clubs and parties even though I didn’t find them fun, because that’s what everyone else thought was fun. I had to pretend to like them to fit in. I was afraid to be ridiculed if I expressed my true feelings about them.

It wasn’t an irrational fear, either. I’ve actually been told to my face that 1) it’s weird that I don’t like going out, because “everyone else” does, 2) that I’m missing out on a fundamental college experience, and 3) that the things I consider fun are boring, juvenile, and rudimentary. I was made to feel like a loser for my personal preferences.

When I came to Emory, I realized just how wrong that was. The standard of “fun” is not universal; it is completely individualized. Some people here go to frat parties and clubs all the time. They love dressing up, dancing, meeting people, getting wasted, and listening to music at a volume that is inappropriate in any other environment. They love taking advantage of their youth and their freedom as adults. I totally get it, partying can be really exciting and a good way to shake off the stress of school.

But for me personally, and for lots of other people, that would just add to my stress. I still go out on occasion and have fun, especially if I’m with people who I’m comfortable with and enjoy the company of. But going out is not at all an integral part of college, or of my life. I prefer to be in more chill environments with people I know well. I enjoy being able to have (audible) conversations and getting to know the people I’m with. I like exploring Atlanta, playing games, watching movies, and trying new foods. That’s fun to me, and contrary to popular belief, it’s fun to lots of other people as well. 

Now, when I look back at the people who told me I couldn’t have a real social life without going out, I laugh. Not going to parties and clubs doesn't make you a loser. Conforming to other people’s standard of fun despite your contrary beliefs does. By paving your own path and enjoying yourself, you’re winning.