College safety

Rachel has spent the past three years at James Madison University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre with a minor in Spanish. Most recently, she competed at the Kennedy Center Acting College Theatre Festival in Albany, GA and advanced to the final round of 16 from 200 initial groupings. When she’s not rehearsing night after night, she can be found cake decorating or pursuing a career in memorizing every season of Law & Order: SVU. Come September, she will be moving to Chicago to pursue Shakespeare & Improv Comedy through Second City.

Saturday night: five pm rolls around and the night begins. At dinner, you think to yourself, “What can I eat to make myself think I’m full, but not so full that I will have to work to get wasted?” So you choose a caesar salad (stay away from bread, can’t have anything soaking up the hangover inducing, sour apple goodness.) Fast forward through the two hours you spend caking your face, stuffing socks into your bra, and squeezing into the dress that DEFINITELY fit last week: It begins. First it’s a beer, then it’s a swig or two of Mr. Kappa Nu’s honey whiskey (that’s sweet… right?), and finally the makeup you spent an hour applying is running down your face as you’re tasting the sour apple vodka again while it comes back up. The glamorous night you planned on has become a less-than-ideal version of a bad Rihanna music video, and there’s nothing to be done but pop a few Advil and hope you didn’t say anything embarrassing.
Coming into college, everyone feels this pressure to drink. Adversely, no one really pressures you to be sober except for the RAs and outdated orientation videos. I remember the nights when all of my new best friends would sneak bottles of wine through the vents, and we would sit and pretend that ramen tasted really good undercooked through the hazy filter of cheap moscato. At the end of the day, I gained the freshman-15 by drinking my way through fall semester. If I wasn’t drinking, I was experiencing the intense fear of missing out that you can’t avoid in hall-style bathrooms. Finally I said enough was enough, and I lost a few ‘fun friday nights’ to watching Netflix with my roommate. At the end of the day, I was pulling my grades back up while my best friend from home was passing out in her shower and going to the ER with alcohol poisoning. I still went out and drank, but I was learning my way about it.
What they don’t tell you about college drinking is that it’s glamorous until someone takes it too far — and it only takes one person to drink more than they can handle to ruin the night and scare the crap out of everyone. What I’ve found in my time in college is that being the sober person at parties is the most exciting part of my week; watching everyone else make a fool of themselves while I remain in control not only makes me feel mature, but it teaches me about my own limits when I’m drinking: how to recognize the line between losing control and having fun… because alcohol can be fun. Like all things in college, drinking responsibly is all about self-awareness and growing from your mistakes. Had I not had the sloshy halloweens and the thirsty thursdays as an eager eighteen year old, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the freedom of Wednesday wine nights as a twenty-one year old. Sure, mistakes are going to be made, but they won’t happen every night, and when they do happen to you or a friend, you’ll know how to deal with it.

Whether you’re going to college or you’re in the home stretch, here are some I.D.E.A.S. to keep you on track for a fun & safe night!

1. If you go in a group, stay in a group. There’s always safety in numbers
2. Designate a driver if you’re going somewhere out of walking distance
3. Eat well before hand; opt for something with carbohydrates to soak up some of the alcohol at dinner.
4. Always know your personal limits; Just because your friend took 3 more shots doesn’t meant you have to follow suit.
5. Surround yourself with good people; Drinking around people you’re comfortable with instantly makes you safer and ready to have fun.

Drinking is an instrumental part of college. A lot of people will tell you not to drink at all, but that’s unrealistic — most everyone does it and it’s up to you to make sure you’re safe. Pace yourself, trust your instincts, and enjoy responsibly.

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