Olivia Hupp discusses her first experiences with alcohol.
When I first came to Ohio University, I never really got into the infamous party culture. My freshman, sophomore and junior years were spent primarily in my dorm with my door closed, attempting to ignore the weekend festivities that were always starting up in the adjacent rooms.
I felt out of place. Was I a “true Bobcat” if I wasn’t partying? Most of my friends were the type who went out almost every weekend and found ways to access the liquid contraband, which we, as underage students, were warned to steer clear. The thought of drinking before my 21st birthday was a foreign concept, yet I was more embarrassed than comforted by my lack of desire.
After listening to my peers recount their “crazy” nights for weeks on end, my feelings of embarrassment were replaced with resentment. I firmly believed that you didn’t have to drink to have fun in college. I started to look down on the partiers, bashing OU’s party culture and everyone involved. In my mind, it didn’t matter whether or not you were of age. If you drank, chances are we were not friends.
It wasn’t until this past year that my mindset changed. Toward the end of last year, I started hanging out with some old friends who were everything I had come to dislike. Call it what you will — peer pressure, etc. — but they talked me into having my first drink. One drink quickly turned into two and pretty soon, I was accompanying them to house parties on the weekends.
When it came down to it, I found that there was nothing wrong with going out and having a good time. My grades weren’t suffering, I hadn’t started frequenting the bars every night of the week, and I was able to hang out with friends without alcohol present. I was thrilled that it was entirely possible to let yourself get caught up in the party culture without having to depend on it.
Getting over my prejudices has had its benefits. As a senior, I love and look forward to going uptown on the weekends and let loose for a night or two. I have met many new people and gotten closer to the friends I had once avoided. The Athens bar scene is laid back and somewhat refreshing. You don’t have to go out and get inordinately drunk to enjoy your evening, and you don’t have to be dressed to the nines for someone to notice you.
Looking back, I am more ashamed of the way I used to feel about OU’s party culture and the people involved than my original unwillingness to participate. I know that my experiences have been fairly tame compared to some of the horror stories I have been told, and maybe that is why my outlook shifted in a favorable direction.
Whether you abstain from alcohol or are one of the partiers, you have nothing to fear. You are no less a part of the Bobcat family if you prefer spending your weekends watching Netflix or heading uptown. We shouldn’t look down on one another for enjoying different things.
Olivia Hupp is a senior studying English literature and creative writing. Email her about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.