The (legal) drinking age: 21

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Happy Sunday! I hope you all are having a terrific day – for me, it’s a bittersweet day. It’s not my usual upload day, but how could I not upload on such a (personally important) day?

Honestly, if you asked me at the beginning of the year what I would be up to today, I would’ve said some very drastically different plans than what I’ll actually be up to. I miss my friends, I miss my college town apartment, but most of all I am deeply troubled by the situation of the food industry. (Yes, I’m always thinking about it.)

But I have to keep this light-hearted – no bummer breaks today… because it’s my birthday.

I’ll be honest, I have drank before. What can I say – I go to university in a college town and I went overseas last summer in a country with a much lower drinking age… In regards to drinking, I kind of wanted today’s post to be a little story telling, rather than a typical blog. So let’s begin.

I had hard liquor for the first time at a party before fall term started my freshman year. From then on, alcohol has had a unique influence on my college life – but not in the way you might think.

Before getting to university, I was very used to the presence of alcohol at events. Coming from a family that loved alcohol, I was always a little hesitant to dabble at the teasing of my family members. I had seen far too often the grave consequences of binge drinking, the personality switches and unsettling morning-afters to feel any kind of motivation to want to drink except the bragging rights (at the time) of being able to try it before being “allowed” to.

After that first party, I was torn at wanting to be popular and cool but also acutely aware of the unhealthy effects of drinking (I was raised to be a goody two-shoes). After a few of these functions, I realized I liked going to parties, I liked drinking (a little) and I could say I handled my liquor pretty well. But I think my perspective on alcohol changed when I got into the dating sphere.

Early on in that first serious relationship (y’know, the one I keep talking about like here and here) was being at a party together. It was the first time I was meeting his friends, meeting in the evening, and I recall I drank a bit too much (feeling kind of sick) but really pleased that the relationship was blossoming in the way I had so hoped for.

I didn’t drink much outside of parties. My close friends and my boyfriend at the time found it amusing when I was drunk, because I’m usually guarded – my boyfriend particularly. Admitting I drink to people who only see me in professional settings is a similar story. A lot of people get surprised when I mention I drink, or even participate in typical college recreational activities. I actually had a conversation a couple weeks ago with an acquaintance, who admitted she didn’t think I drank or did anything “fun like that” because of how serious I am. Ah, so funny…

I remember being goaded into drinking more, after a couple more parties I went with my boyfriend. He would make or get more drinks for me, even at one point my best friend had to step in before I made some decisions because I wasn’t exactly in a proper state of mind to make (yes, I still remember that, Kaitlyn, I love you and thank you). We didn’t do much partying together after that. I should’ve known by the gesture that it (we) wouldn’t end well.

My family, like I mentioned earlier, don’t exactly have the best experiences with alcohol. So my trepidation to alcohol was the same kind of precaution I had toward most things in life that I was familiar with. Entering university made me realize that sort of precaution I approached life with made me “unfun.” I was too cautious, too careful, and I wanted to be as carefree, fun, cool, and interesting as the other people who seemed to be popular and going to an endless cycle of parties I saw countless photos of. Being reckless with as little consequence as possible was what college was for, was what I was frequently told. But alas, I have only been reckless with alcohol a handful of times, and not even in interesting instances.

Outside of parties, the times I was drinking was really the only thing that cleared my head of delusions about the state of that relationship. Drinking alone in my apartment with leftover drinks someone would have, or trying to finish whatever I had before going home for breaks… those were some depressing times.

The last time I heavily drank was in Beijing, on the last night before I headed back to America. My classmates and I had gone all out with the drinks at the karaoke place, the cheap beer being pushed onto everyone. I remember my friends and I had pregamed with some Soju and some other liquor, so we all had a great time in our half-drunken states. Luckily, the place was only a couple blocks from the university, so getting back was never a huge issue.

At the time, my boyfriend and I weren’t talking much, so the last few days I wasn’t in such a great mood. I ended up walking back from the karaoke place earlier than the others, so I was alone. I was drinking a lukewarm cheap beer, sweaty, and feeling the sadness kick in. Because my roommate was leaving at an earlier time than I was, I knew I would have the room alone so I decided there that I would stay up the whole night just because I could. I still have blurry photos of myself as I was walking home, clutching the beer because I felt so sad to be leaving Beijing, but also so alone.

Due to the timezone difference, my boyfriend was awake. In my half drunken, but rapidly fading state, I decided we should talk. So I called him, aired my grievances of how awful I had been feeling, and as the alcohol faded feeling a better sense of clarity than I had in a long time.

“What more do you want me to say?” It was that line that made me realize it was over. With my beer beside me (warm and totally gross) I finished packing, cleaned up myself and the room, and watched the sunrise.

Since then, I don’t think I’ve approached drinking the same. It’s fun and whatnot, but my earlier intentions of wanting to drink just to be reckless were just me being insecure. I’ve realized not wanting to feel a loss of control to be “fun” is okay, and perhaps I’m just not meant to be “cool.” All the “cool” people I met were all kind of mean anyway.

Although my actual time drinking and being under the influence hasn’t been that long (I mean, compared to the vast majority of college students), I think I’ve had plenty of good times, as much as this mostly reads as a “depressing” piece.

I remember being with close friends, drinking and chatting until we were in tears from laughing at dumb things. Bonding and being more vulnerable because of alcohol, with people I didn’t think I’d open up to otherwise… I can’t say it’s all bad, and I definitely do want to drink more (in moderation).

My relationship with alcohol, upon reflection, has always been an internal conflict of translating my personality outside of work. Feeling in control, being “cool,” and but also acting genuinely – the alcohol just acted as an in-between for me to finally confront the conflict. I’m not “overbearing” just because I don’t want to feel a loss of control every time I drink. “Cool” is overrated and something I know is too convoluted to try to be, and being genuine… is something I’ve learned by trusting my gut, be more straightforward with myself and others in the last year.

But in turning 21, I realized that there’s so many people that have been contributed to my life so I can be at this place, so let me thank them:

Ryan, my best friend, I literally don’t know how I would be without you – thank you for everything from the Starbucks, late night calls and general sensibilities about most things (like those cursed Twitter memes you send me? Those are NOT it.)

Kaitlyn – you’ll probably never read this but I miss you and although in some ways we’ve kind of grown apart, I have your back whenever and wherever, I’m just a call away. You literally have had such a huge influence on me I could never put it into words my gratefulness.

Megan, you’re basically my sister from another family at this point, I am so glad we were able to connect when we did and I am so grateful for you!

All my public relations and advertising professors – literally just opening me up to more writing, which has been the biggest help for me in all aspects. Plus all the times I’ve gone into office hours – I literally don’t know how you all do what you do so well. Incredible.

Alex B., you know these couple of years have been rough but I’m glad we’ve had each others’ backs and I don’t know anyone else I’d rather spend laughing over how I eat pizza with than anyone else.

Chris and Min, thank you for being a supportive of my writing. We have our cursed jokes but I’m glad we’ve all been able to support each other in our endeavors – these last couple of years have been crazy to all of us, haha.

Roll your eyes at me if you will, I do kind of have to tip my hat to my ex, who will definitely not be reading this, LOL. I hope you’re doing well and have everything you want in your life. Thank you for being such an influential part of my life and helping me grow. I do appreciate you and only wish you the best.

And finally, my family, regardless of if they ever read this: I love you all and wish we stayed better connected, but I know you’re all pretty busy.

Thank you so much for reading, I am so grateful for your time and energy into reading this lengthier than usual post. Leave your comments and/or questions below – do you share a weird relationship toward alcohol? What’s your favorite drink if you do drink? Embarrassing stories? I wanna know!

I hope you all have an amazing rest of your long weekend and I will see you in the next post ~

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