I remember in an interview for a scholarship I received, I was asked a question that I will never forget, “With this scholarship you might have to give up parts of the typical college experience, how do you feel about that?”
And I remember answering, politely, “Ma’am I don’t think that will be an issue. I’ve been known to challenge that so-called normal.”
Anyone out there who knows remotely anything about college, or college students for that matter, knows that the weekends are a time when people cut loose. The idea of the college experience is this:
Its 12 a.m. and the bright neon lights of the bar signs, the loud booming music from the clubs, and the smell of underage drinking lingers and fills the streets of the surrounding college town. They lay down a five-dollar bill on the counter for cover, and walk into the bar, ready for the time of their lives. Stressed out students sip on jungle juice at frat parties, lounge on couches or climb on speakers under the flashing lights that pulse to the beat of the music. The feeling of being young and going out is obviously an incomparable experience, or else everyone wouldn’t do it? Right?
Its 2 a.m. and the pounding of the music mixed with the alcohol from your pre-gaming, shots, and mixed drinks from that cute guy you met are all starting to get to be a bit too much. You want to go home but you’re really far away and its cold outside and your feet hurt. You finally catch a shuttle and make your way back to your dorm, stuttering while signing in and then proceeding to shuffle down your hall into your dorm room where you fall asleep with your makeup on and wake up the next morning with a pounding headache.
But ah, alas, the college experience.
Stressful days at work, confusing lectures at school, and wild parties. THE college experience? These years are the ones for the books, they say.
And they are not wrong. These years are for the books. We are at the age where everything is at our fingertips quite literally.
We are all at the age to seek out adventure anywhere we can get it. We can make our own decisions, and it is prime time to find who we are as individuals. College is an incredible opportunity that not everyone gets, the idea that you are less than 1% of people that have the incredible opportunity to get to learn on this level with this many people spending their lives to help us get to be wherever the heck we want to be. However, all of that being said, many of us get caught up in the fun. While having fun is not bad in the slightest, alcohol and drugs do not define adventure or living.
I am not bad-mouthing those who decide to drink or smoke socially. By all means, do you. I will do me.
My point is that alcohol and partying are not the definition of these years.
My point is that the cool thing to do on the weekend should not be pulling out your fake, trying to slide by the bouncer and make people buy you drinks. It shouldn’t be the most impressive thing to throw your head back and chug a bottle of ice. My point is most definitely that we shouldn’t drink and drive. We shouldn’t be “fine to get home” because we “only had one beer.”
Open your eyes and think of all the things that college has to offer that aren’t drinking until you can’t remember the night. Explore a new town you have driven past but never paid mind to. Try new foods and drinks. Spend time with family, friends. Write a poem. Watch the sun rise or set with the love of your life. Workout. Go for a drive with no destination. Bake cookies. Do something crazy, without doing something stupid.
I have chosen not to drink in college, consciously. This doesn’t make me lonely, lame, or the mom. It makes me a college student. Just like the rest of everyone else. I am just a college student who is searching for what is out there, who is going on adventures on the weekend, or trying new things, or working to better myself. Heck, maybe I’m even studying.
When you're considering which college experience you want, ask yourself this:
How could these be the best days of your life if you can’t even remember them?