Letters to Features: “College: To drink or not to drink?”

Staff writer Janine Lano lends advice on avoiding peer pressure and an overall assessment of what it implies in a friendship

Don’t get pressured to drink!
Courtesy of Flickr

Dear Features,

I am just about to enter my first year of college at UCR and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m worried about how hard college level classes are and wondering if I’ll get homesick, but I’m sure I’ll manage. However, there’s this one thing that seems to be “the norm” upon entering college. And that’s the peer pressure to drink. This may seem miniscule and irrelevant to some people but I’m a little worried because I don’t feel as excited to drink and attend parties like everyone else. However, I’m still curious and willing to try it out. Do you have any advice?

From,

Sober but wondering what it’s like to not be, ML

 


 

Dear Sober,

Let me start off by saying: I completely understand where you’re coming from. Drinking is definitely a major part of the college life and I’m sure you want to have the full college experience. The peer pressure to drink is a much stronger force when you’re in college because you’re on your own. You have the freedom to stay out as late as you want and your parents are no longer telling you to do this and that. Now, it’s your peers who are influencing you more. You may be experiencing contradictory feelings about drinking. But it’s simple. If you want to drink, drink. If you don’t want to drink, don’t.

You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done” because peer pressure is something we will never outgrow. When you’re living in the dorms, you’ll come across people who go to parties all the time. Personally, I never lived in the dorms but I do have friends who would regularly attend parties and drink. At first, I felt that something was wrong with me because I had no inclination to accompany my friends to these parties. On the other hand, I felt I needed to go so that I could stay relevant to my friends. I realized that I went out to drink so I wouldn’t feel left out, not because I genuinely wanted to go.

It took me some time to accept the fact that I’m simply not the “drinking” type. And if you’re not the drinking type but still want to go to parties, that’s perfectly okay. Remember that you have the freedom now. It’s also perfectly okay if you’re feeling you want to let loose and drink as much as possible, especially when it’s your first time out and you don’t know your alcohol tolerance yet. But make sure that every time you go out knowing that you will drink, you are accompanied by close friends or people that you trust. It will make the experience much more enjoyable. Plus — it’s the safe and smart thing to do.

I realized that I went out to drink so I wouldn’t feel left out, not because I genuinely wanted to go.

It’s kind of “normal” to feel peer pressure to drink from the whole notion of the college experience. However, if you’re feeling enormous amounts of peer pressure from your circle of friends, I would re-evaluate who you hang out with. True friends wouldn’t peer pressure you in any form. It’s also important to differentiate between your friends genuinely wanting to take you and show you a good time versus them pushing you to do something you don’t want to. It should be a fun time if you’re going out with your friends. It shouldn’t be anything else.

As a first year, I know you are dealing with pressures to have a fun social life. It’s very easy to get swept away with what everyone else is doing and blame peer pressure if you end up doing something you regret. But remember that you are responsible for your own actions. Just be smart. Partying and drinking should add to your college experience not take over it.

Sincerely,
Janine Lano

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