Many students tell me they don’t feel comfortable in social situations without engaging in some type of extracurricular activity. Some claim they want to have the “college experience”. Others say that parties are boring unless they get completely wasted. Then there are the students who started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol back in high school and can’t imagine changing that pattern in college. Most studies would say that students use these extracurricular activities to lower their inhibitions and be more social. Because we all know college is about socialization. Many students who admitted to using alcohol or marijuana as a freshman in college stated they used it to feel more confident when meeting new people. What happens is this becomes a way of life and everyone around you now sees you as someone who drinks or smokes at every party.
I have counseled some students who are now labeled, “the party girl or guy” in their circle of friends. They have considered slowing down or even stopping their drinking or smoking habits, but feel obligated to keep their status with their friends. It isn’t so easy to go to a party and say no to the drugs or alcohol offered. Especially if you never have declined these activities in the past.
It can be intimidating to reinvent yourself. To have to explain to your girlfriend or boyfriend why you are making a change. Your friends may even feel like you are trying to blow them off or that you starting to look down on them. So the pressure to stay in the same situation is intense. Only you know why you do what you do. If you know you don’t need alcohol or weed to relax and have a good time, be courageous and show others they can do the same. Sometimes it only takes one person to say no before others will have courage to do the same.
Confidence is the key to saying no. If you’re single and going to parties to find someone to date, be self assured enough to know that you don’t need alcohol or marijuana to be outgoing and social. There are students who go to parties and stay sober, or at least don’t get completely wasted. They are able to meet people and have fun anyway. There are many reasons you can use to say no. One, you may not want to spend the money on it. Two, you know it is illegal (underage drinking and smoking marijuana) and you don’t want to risk having it on your record when applying for a job in the future. Three, you can say you don’t enjoy it anymore and that you would rather not suffer from hangovers in the morning. Four, you can say it is interfering with your grades and you want to be able to stay off of academic probation. Five, you can admit that it changes your personality and you don’t like the choices you make under the influence.
Other students may not be bold enough or want to say no to everything. There are other ways to cut back on alcohol at parties. You can sip your drink and then go to the bathroom to pour most of it down the drain. If you have a glass you can fill it with water or pop. No one will notice what you’re drinking after a couple of hours. You can also switch back and forth between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks to slow down the amount you consume. You can opt of out drinking games or refuse shots and just drink beer. You can eat a big meal before going out to slow down how fast your body absorbs the alcohol. You can also volunteer to be the designated driver for others at the party. As for marijuana you can share the love and pass it on to the next person.
We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. Alcohol and weed may help you to numb out those things or make you not care for the moment that they exist. But they do exist and instead of ignoring things you may not like about yourself or your life, you may just want to work on making positive changes. If you don’t like that you are shy or nervous around others, work on those things to improve your confidence in social situations. This means exposing yourself to social situations when you are sober and feeling anxious. This is the only true way to develop that confidence and get rid of the fear you feel. If you have a hard time relaxing and letting go of the stress of classes, you can find ways to learn to relax without the help of alcohol or drugs.
It is worth it to figure out how to be yourself in social situations. You want someone to meet you and like you for who you are all the time, not only when you are drunk or high. You can also learn how to drink or smoke less and still have fun. This will help you find and stay in healthier relationships, as well cope with stress in better ways. The point is to still go to parties and have fun, but without needing to be completely wasted to feel comfortable in your own skin while doing it. If you want to build your confidence and self-esteem it is more beneficial to cut back on the use of drugs and alcohol instead of using them as a crutch.
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