My first few days on a college campus have been, needless to say, extraordinary. College life is crazy. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s incredibly overwhelming. Your first few days before classes start are all about getting to know campus; your classes, the people around you, the dining halls, your dorm room. Some people right now are having the literal time of their lives and they couldn’t be happier. Others are miserable and just want to go home or go back to high school. A lot more, like me, are a complete mix of the two; you’re happy and really enjoying yourself but you also miss home and are a bit overwhelmed.
But one thing for sure is that coming to campus can mean getting quite a culture shock.
By this I mean, the culture of frat parties, darties, drinking and being all-around lit af all the time. To be quite honest, I knew this stuff existed and I was actually kind of excited to be a part of it; I just didn’t expect for it to start so soon, and I definitely did not expect to end up hating it.
The night we got here, everyone seemed just like me and ready for the ultimate college experience. As soon as I said goodbye to my parents, I got busy decorating my room, because I thought that was what you were supposed to do. My hall mates, instead, got ready to go to frat parties. I was a little surprised, because I didn’t even know how they found out about these parties and I wondered how they had the stamina to go to them that late at night, because I was quite honestly exhausted. But they all had an amazing time, and it sounded like a lot of fun. The next couple nights, people were going out all day and all night, and it sounded like I was missing out by not being there.
Me being me, with my incurable case of FOMO (the fear of missing out), I decided that I should check out the party scene too. It was much earlier than I was really expecting to go to parties; I expected that I would go at a time in the semester when I knew more people at the party than just my roommate and another friend. But I decided to go anyway, because clearly, everyone else was having so much fun.
So, my roommate, our friend and I ventured out to the frat scene. We walked the streets of Ann Arbor until we found ourselves off-campus and slightly lost, and little bit (okay, very much) impatient. It took us about an hour to even find a frat house that was open and would let Freshmen in, because of course, Freshmen are the bane of all upperclassmen’s existence. When we finally found one, we walked around to the back of the house, where we could see the basement lights flashing and hear the base pumping. We stepped inside the house and the first thing I felt was the awfully sticky floor. Then, the smell of alcohol and vomit hit me. Disgusting. All three of us did not look like we were enjoying the moment at all.
But it’s college!! This is what you’re supposed to do. Isn’t it? I could sense that this was the thought process in all of our heads. We stood there for a while in the doorway of the frat house, just kind of staring at each other. We asked each other if we wanted to go downstairs, and everyone’s answer was the same “I don’t care, whatever you want.” Typical of college freshman and the lackluster peer pressure of trying to fit in, of course. I decided the best option was to literally flip a coin. Heads, we go in; tails, we leave. I asked Siri to flip a coin for us.
Siri looking out for us. We all looked so relieved. We walked back to the dorm and had a night in with some really cool people from our hall playing x-box. I definitely enjoyed myself so much more just hanging out in a small group setting than being in a room full of strangers dancing with people I didn’t know at all.
At least I discovered early on that the frat scene isn't for me. While it’s probably super fun for many people, I just don’t enjoy it.
And that’s OK.
College is a lot of things, but most importantly, it’s a place for you to finally be you. That means figuring out what you’re into and what you’re not into. That means finding people who are into the same things as you. That means not being judgmental of other people’s choices, but not feeling pressured into participating in them either. So, even if it seems like “everyone’s doing it,” you have to remember, especially as a college freshman looking to fit in and find a place, you do not have to do what “everyone else” is doing. It’s completely acceptable, and in fact encouraged, to do your own thing, be your own person.
If all else fails, remind yourself of your priorities. You’re there to learn and to get a degree, right? So, if what you’re doing is going to make you unhappy and have a tougher time with that goal, it’s probably not the best idea.
Whatever you do, just have the courage and conviction that what you’re doing is what you want to do and is right. If the voice in your head is telling you no, you should probably listen, because no one else, not your parents or professors or friends, is going to. Just make smart choices and do what makes you happy.