OPINION: Cheers to a Blackout Free 2018

Image coutesy of Rob Donnelly for NPR

So here’s an unpopular opinion: college parties absolutely suck. Okay, maybe they don’t absolutely suck, but they can be rough as hell. I didn’t truly realize this until I found myself sitting outside in the freezing cold one Friday evening, while all my friends were inside enjoying the luxuries of a house party. Earbuds on, I tuned into my favorite podcast and smoked a few cigarettes until I drained all of my phone’s battery. Only after it died did I finally go back inside, and spent the rest of the night chugging coconut water and eating almonds in any given corner of that house. Alessia Cara’s song “Here” pretty much embodied my whole existence in that moment, and believe me when I tell you that it was equal parts ridiculous and blissful.  

But I promise, I didn’t always run away from loud, tired, drunk college students. As a matter of fact, I used to be one. The majority of my first and second year consisted of me going to an endless cycle of parties, and waking up the next morning unable to remember a single thing. Eventually, this proved to be a toxic cycle for both my mind and my body. So I made the decision to start going to a few parties where I would remain sober, in order to help the people whose stomach contents weren’t as fortunate as mine was in that given moment. I was doing my part, just like the kind, compassionate individuals who had once helped me in my drunken states. Unfortunately, my new sober demeanor enabled me to observe some awful scenarios firsthand. I saw folks being peer pressured into taking tequila shots that would later turn into hours of leaning over a toilet bowl in excruciating pain. I witnessed folks/students being wheeled into ambulances in order to have their stomachs pumped at the nearest hospital. I heard about individuals losing their lives because of alcohol poisoning, mixing substances, or even falling to their death because of their drunken stupor.

I get it. It’s college, and we all want to be cool and accepted by our fellow peers. I get it. I wouldn’t want to be labeled as the “prude” or the “buzz kill” either. We all want to fit in. But I promise you, at a certain point, your body and mind will become tired, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Who knows, maybe even spiritually? It happened to me. So, I had no problem telling any curious party-goer that my cup had nothing but coconut water in it. I had no problem turning down countless drinks from countless people. At one point, I even had someone tell me that they thought I was cool for “not pretending to be drinking alcohol” in order to garner approval or validation. I sincerely appreciated this comment and sentiment.

So now, I’m here to tell everyone that you don’t have to push your body beyond its limits and abilities. You don’t have to spend hours leaning over your toilet at 4 am in the morning. You don’t need to hurt yourself in any way to be deemed “cool”. I know that all these things might seem obvious on paper and that they’ve been said time and time again, but I also know that it is so much harder to actually remember these things in the moment. So it’s so important for me to constantly remind people that “it’s cool if you do and cool if you don’t.” I understand that there is a whole college culture surrounding alcohol, parties, drugs, and everything in between but this becomes a significant issue when individuals end up in hospital beds and/or body bags. So please, know your limits and respect them. And feel free to hang out with me in the corner and talk about our favorite Netflix shows, while we sip on coconut water. But also feel free to lean on me if your body starts to give out from all the drinks. I’ll be eating almonds in the corner if you need me.

Dalia Elmanzalawy is a staff writer at The Triton. If you are interested in submitting an opinion piece, you may do so here