It’s Friday night and the dorms are buzzing. Girls crowd at the bathroom mirror tangled between the cords of their curling irons as they apply the perfect shade of lip gloss and ask each other which top looks better with their skirt. Guys lounge in each others' rooms pouring shots in-between video games. In an hour, the halls will be quiet as everyone scatters down the road listening for the house with music so loud that the bass pounds against their footsteps. It’s a ritual done every weekend across college campuses, but that doesn't mean you have to participate.
After spending two years at community college, I had never been to a college party until I enrolled at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). I spent the first couple of months staying in while my friends went out to parties. Despite their protests, I never saw the appeal due to being so introverted, and because I pretty much have anxiety running through my veins at this point. But week after week of seeing their group pictures on Instagram and hearing about the friends they made in the midst of their drunken stupor, a part of me felt like I was missing out on something that could be a lot of fun. After all, how could I know that I didn’t like parties if I had never been to one?
So, I ventured out to my first party. It took a lot of liquid courage for me to feel comfortable going, but I ended up having a decent time (thanks to the alcohol). I felt free of the anxiety that was holding me back and didn’t feel strange talking to new people. It helped me realize that we were all in the same boat: drunk and trying to have fun. I found myself going to more parties throughout the next couple of months until I started to find myself losing interest. To me, the party scene seemed a bit repetitive. Downing shot after shot in order to feel confident enough in myself wasn’t helping me in the long run, especially as my tolerance improved, and I ended up feeling too sober and out of place as I watched my friends play beer pong with suspicious looking tap water or run into their other friends while I quietly watched, trying and failing to get a word in.
It took me awhile, but I learned that parties weren’t for me and that there wasn’t anything wrong with that. If I couldn’t feel comfortable at parties without being significantly drunk, then I shouldn’t be going at all. It took me quite a few months and several bad hangovers for me to learn my lesson, but I did nonetheless.
It’s okay to not to go to parties, and it’s okay to go to parties too. Don’t let your friends or what you think college is all about influence you to do something you know you won’t enjoy. If anything, try it once and if you feel the same way, then be comfortable with the fact that you’re just simply not a party person. It may seem like everyone else is going out, but I guarantee you about half of the school, if not more, is curled up in bed and having just as much fun. I’ve learned the hard way that I’m much happier spending my weekend nights watching Netflix or doing something low-key with my friends, but I think a part of me knew that about myself all along.