Navigating University Party Culture

Let go of who you are supposed to be, and embrace who you are.

So, you’ve made it to college. Congratulations! Within your first few days, you’ve likely noticed one thing you were expecting: party culture is a major component of the university experience for many people.

You might find going out is something you enjoy, or like me, you may find that it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy at all. That’s okay too.

The Scene

It’s the first weekend at university and everyone is gearing up for the first big night out. The game plan for the evening is far too elaborate and everyone is already two hours into hair and makeup.

You might be joining in on the festivities, or skeptical if you want to partake. Either way, you’re going. This first weekend is pivotal to prove to your new friends that you can keep up with them, and like the things they like.

As you walk out the door, Uber to the party, and walk in, you’re met with the overwhelming feeling of excitement or anxiety (depending on your personality) that is the college frat party.

Sweat, vomit, and beer cover the floor and the linger in the air. If you’re anything like me, then at this point you’re thinking, “why did I ever agree to this?”

Don’t Knock it Till You Try It, Right?

Go to the party. Be safe but go. Even if it seems like something you won’t enjoy, you won’t know until you experience it. It’s better to go and hate it then to forever sit and wonder if college night life is all the movies crack it up to be.

That being said, my initial experiences with university parties were more or less all negative. I felt as though I was just another body in this mass of people, most of whom wouldn’t even remember this night tomorrow.

However, these experiences allowed me to discover a really interesting pattern among the people I was surrounded with: no one knew exactly why they were doing what they were doing. Yet, here we all were.

Everyone was just walking into the night, hoping not to remember it. Every. Single. Weekend.

Now if going out is your jam, that’s fine too! It’s just pivotal to know why you feel inclined to do the things you’re doing. Ensure that the root of your actions lies within your own desires and values and not within a perceived idea of who you’re supposed to be. And, of course, be safe in whatever decisions you end up making.

Did I know why was doing these things? Well, yes. I wanted to be a part of the notorious crazy ol’ college nights of which everyone fondly reminisces. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to “discover myself” like everyone said I would.

I eventually realized amongst a crowd of sweaty, drunken freshmen that forcing myself to go to these parties wouldn’t lead me to either of those things.

party culture

Stick It Out

Ok, you’ve reached the breaking point. Maybe someone threw up on you, spilled beer all over your new dress, danced WAY too close, or you just flat out decided you hate these types of parties. Making that final decision to stop trying to fit an image that you just don’t adhere to, is the first step.

If your group of orientation-week friends live for the Greek weekend, they might not be so fond of your aversion to their favorite pastime. People often feel threatened upon realizing they’ve never contemplated the reasons behind their actions. They just act. You’ll most likely slowly grow apart from these people. Eventually finding yourself with less to do and definitely less friends than before, but don’t fret!

Through recognizing the motives behind your actions, you begin the path to truly discovering who you are. Then, you will start attracting others who navigate their lives the same way. It might take longer than you’d like, but I promise you that it will happen.

The friends that you meet this way will add so much more value to your life, as well. They’ll challenge your ways of thinking and consistently encourage you to be a better version of yourself through their own drive to discover themselves.

I met one of my greatest friends at university at a frat party. We bonded over our mutual discomfort and desire to leave as fast as possible. If this doesn’t exemplify the truth that staying true to yourself attracts your ideal community, then I don’t know what does.

The Fundamental Truth

Whether it’s party culture, your major, or college in general, dig deep to find the reason behind your actions. If it doesn’t lie within your own personal desires, then reconsider your path.

No one can blossom into their full selves trying to fit a box they clearly weren’t made for. Don’t force it. We don’t realize how tiring it is to subscribe to these ideals until we stop. So, let go of who you are supposed to be and embrace who you are.

Cover image via Echelon Hospitality Group


Also published on Medium.

Sarah is a sophomore studying journalism at the University of Miami. She...