Hi Auntie SparkNotes!
I'm a freshman at college, I love school and everything's great. Except this one problem: I don't like to party.
My school, while it's not a "party school", is very liberal and has a lot of parties that go on during the weekend and week. I went to a few parties earlier in the semester, tried drinking at one, and realized it just wasn't for me. I tried to go to a few other ones (sober this time) but at these parties, I felt uncomfortable and didn't really have much fun at all. I don't think I have a problem with other people drinking. I'm in a lot of different friend circles, some that drink (including the guy that I'm dating) and some that don't. I'm okay with all of this, but then I should feel okay at parties where others are drinking, right? Why do I feel the way that I did? All the parties that I was at I went with a few friends, never alone, but I felt like I was the only one not drinking. Nobody was trying to force me to drink, but I just didn't have that much fun. I dread my boyfriend or one of my friends asking me to go to a party because I don't want to be "the awkward one", but I want to be able to go when other people are drinking without feeling uncomfortable and have fun! I'm a very social person and I do a lot of fun things with my friends so I think it's weird that I don't want to go to parties! Auntie, what do I do?
Well, okay. This might sound crazy, darling, but just hear me out:
Have you, by any chance, considered the totally off-the-wall possibility that you just aren't really a party person?
I know. MADNESS. But honestly: given the atmosphere of many college parties, and given that you can't rely on the mood-heightening, sense-dulling effects of alcohol to make that atmosphere more palatable, it would be oh-so-understandable if you didn't particularly enjoy spending Saturday night in a crazy-loud dorm room, on a beer-soaked carpet, packed shoulder to shoulder with sloppy people, half of whom are acting like complete jackbags, and at least one of whom will end the night by barfing approximately three gallons' worth of tortilla chips and melon liqueur onto his own lap.
...College parties are still like that, right?
And hey, for the record (and for those of you who are so terrified after that last paragraph that you've vowed never to go to college, ever, because tortilla melon vomit), those types of parties can be totally fun for those who enjoy that scene, whether they're drinking or not. But if you don't enjoy it, or if you just don't like being around big groups of boozy people, then that's completely okay. Not everyone does! And it's not something you need to question or analyze. It doesn't mean you have a problem with alcohol. It doesn't mean anything, really, except that you don't like parties—or at least, not the type of parties currently available to you. And if that's the case, then just chalk it up to personal taste, and hang out with your friends in other milieus (while also making up your mind to occasionally suck it up and go to a party, not because you're gonna have the best time ever, but in the spirit of friendship and sociability.)
Except... well, all right: there is one other thing that sticks out in your letter as a possible reason for your discomfort, and that's your self-consciousness over being the only non-drinker in the room. And if you're hung up on that, Sparkler, all I can tell you is that you've got to get over it. Not just because nobody cares (although they don't! I promise!), but because if you believe that your abstaining makes things uncomfortable, then so will everyone else. If you stand around feeling weird and boring and awkward, people are going to be weird and boring and awkward back at you. And if your mindset at these get-togethers is "I'm sober, I don't belong here," then it's no surprise that you aren't having any fun.
So before you officially declare yourself party-averse, try attending one more shindig—one at which you don't let yourself worry about your imbibement or lack thereof, and where you instead walk in, chug a can of lemonade, slap the cutest guy in the room right on his shapely behind, and immediately start dancing like this... or, y'know something like that. Because when you do, everyone will know you're there to party, whether you're drinking or not.
Although they'll also probably think you've been drinking.
Do you ever feel weird at parties? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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