I first came to college open-minded to everything — new friends, new places, and new experiences. Though I was prepared for all that college entails, I had been so preoccupied with the process of securing my admission that I had put little to no effort into predicting what the social life and day-to-day life would actually be like.
Upon entering college, I quickly made a group of close friends who I connected with almost immediately. Within the first few weeks, frat parties began to pervade our conversations — rumors we heard about which fraternities were throwing the upcoming weekend, which friends of ours were rushing, etc. Though I didn’t necessarily anticipate partying in my new college life, I never was against it — I simply deemed it as a new experience that I was willing to try.
Honestly, I had little experience with partying in high school as Covid knocked down any potential final-year efforts to get what I wanted out of my high school social life. So, when I came to school I had minimal experience with the traditional party scene.
In college, however, partying soon became a large part of my life. My friends and I developed a weekend routine, where nights became devoted to getting ready in search of a party. Ultimately, it was a fun way to both bond with the friends I had made and meet new people who would become friends and acquaintances. I began to see the same people repeatedly and realized that, of our school’s population, a small fraction of people went to these parties, thus creating a small environment that made up the going-out scene. Faces became familiar and I became more comfortable going out. I built connections with people that extended outside of just the weekend activities and I became more confident in my social skills as I spoke to so many different people.
Because the social scene isn’t as prevalent at our school as it is at others, I believe it is almost similar to high school in its intimacy and relatively “small” setting. This has allowed me to somewhat live out the much-needed high school social development I was lacking.
The one thing I did not anticipate was how brutal the party life can be. I admittedly was naive, but I did not consider the potential toll that they could have on both my physical and mental well-being — which, at some points, was a significant toll. I found myself longing for fun daytime activities instead of living for the nights and dealing with the next day’s slump.
The second I realized I was simply a body in a room of many other (seemingly better-looking) bodies, my perspective changed. I spent time tediously putting on makeup and choosing an outfit only to be shoved and ignored. Typical for parties, but nevertheless brutal.
I soon began questioning the interactions I did have with people, comparing them to those around me. My friends seemed to attract every man in the room and my conversations seemed to only consist of the common name-major-year lines before they quickly trail off. Upon realizing this, I then would spend the remainder of my night wondering if I even did want the attention that everyone else seemed to get. I am not saying I allow the party scene to eat away at my self-confidence because I am well aware that how people perceive me in a dark basement is not how I should perceive myself. However, it did make me question my importance at these events–I devoted so much time and energy to going, clearing other plans, only to have one-dimensional conversations and feel self-conscious.
I didn’t view parties as an inherently negative thing, nor do I believe that today. I did, however, learn that they are best in moderation. I learned to go only when I wanted to have a social and fun night with my friends–not to seek validation or gain anything from others. I now go simply to have fun and remind myself that everyone else likely is concerned only about themselves and their own endeavors. I also now listen to my mind and realize that if I am feeling confident, chances are a party is not going to boost my self-esteem. Parties truly are what you make out of them and it is important to remember who you are outside of the party scene (spoiler alert: you’re worth so much more).