I sat in the back Campus Safety vehicle, squinting, not being able to see anything in the distance. My astigmatism was getting in the way; having had perfect vision until recently I did not know how to navigate my campus in the dark without running into benches, trees, and the corners of buildings. Getting injured was not how I wanted to spend my Saturday night, so I was forced to call Campus Safety.
“So how are you spending the rest of the night?” The officer asked.
“I’m going back to my dorm room to get ahead on some work. Assuming my eyes don’t kill me, of course.”
“You aren’t going to any parties or anything?” He asked incredulously. The other officer chimed in, adding, “We’ve forgotten that there are kids that still study around here.”
Of course, that was a broad statement for him to make (not surprising, since they only get called out when things go wrong at parties). There are many students who party and get their work done, just as there are many that don’t and still do nothing. However, the sentiment remains: the Claremont Consortium is very party-heavy. It is universally recognized that you have to be under the influence to enjoy yourself; otherwise it is awkward. Orientation week at the 5Cs are notorious for the sheer amount of transports that happen at parties, and there is something huge happening almost every weekend.
As someone who doesn’t like to party, I often feel lonely on the weekends. Sure, not many people judge you personally, but there is an immense amount of pressure. Seeing a horde of people with your friends going to hang out is isolating; seeing the happy pictures they post on Facebook afterwards is even worse. Phrases like, “[X person] studies a lot but parties on the weekends. I respect that they know how to have fun” are often thrown around. One person at my school is betting that I will “turn into a partier” by the end of my four years.
Reality check: people who don’t party are not boring! We just have fun in different ways!
Surrounding yourself with people who don’t party on those nights is very helpful; being alone and recharging is a wonderful feeling too. There’s still something inherently difficult with feeling that you are missing out on something, and some solace in knowing that you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway.
To be honest, I am still wading through this culture. Looking back, I have made progress, namely that I no longer force myself to go to parties. However, overcoming feelings of isolation at a party school is a work in progress, and if I can offer anything, is that is progressively gets easier to deal with.