Loud music, drinks in hand, dancing with a crowd of strangers or friends are a common way for people to unwind and socialize in bars, clubs and weddings. However, this is not for everyone.
As a teenager in Hungary, I experienced firsthand the peer pressure to participate in the party and clubbing scene. At the age of 16 (the legal age for drinking in Hungary), going clubbing became the thing that everyone started to do. It seemed to be a rite of passage into the world of adulthood.
I dared not ask my parents whether I could go clubbing. Knowing they would be concerned about my safety, I thought they would for sure say no, so why did I even bother?
While my friends enthusiastically embraced the clubbing culture, I found myself resisting it as much as possible, until I "had to".
It was my classmate's birthday and she had invited us to "go out" (i.e. clubbing) and then sleepover. From my parents' perspective I was just going to a friend's place for a birthday party/sleepover.
After spending some time doing our make up, making sure we looked our best, we headed to the club at around 10 pm. First we had to line up in the cold Fall night to get our IDs checked. We finally entered the bustling club with pounding music, multicolored lights and crowds of people dancing.
Our first stop was the bar. We each ordered a shot of tequila with salt sprinkled all around the mouth of the shot glass and a piece of lime. We hit our glass and they drank it.
I pretended to drink it but then poured out the rest onto the floor...I really didn't like the bitter taste and more importantly, I did not want to lose my sense of control consciousness, especially in such an environment where I did not feel safe.
Then it was time to head to the dance floor! As I made my way through the crowds, a hand slapped my butt! I was already starting to feel uncomfortable.
Then I attempted to dance to "Right Down" - "You spin my head right round right round, when you go down, when you go down..."
People were way too close to me. I feel like I couldn't breathe very well. My mind was constantly on the lookout for any random person touching me. I just couldn't get into it. Moreover, the over-stimulation of the lights and the crowd of people has left me overwhelmed and more exhausted than ever.
I looked at my watch and it was already 11:30 pm, way passed my bedtime. No wonder I was sleepy! I have built a habit of going to bed around the same time everyday due to my mom' strict enforcement. Or maybe I just have genetic predispositions that make my circadian rhythms naturally more regular. Either way, I decided it was time for my body to rest.
So I found an empty seat with a table and tried to sleep on my elbow.
"Sarah, are you alright?", a friend came up to me after a while, and asked. "I'm alright, just sleepy, hahaha", I responded. I just realized I was right next to the blasting speaker.
I did not go clubbing again until it was prom night. Any social pressure and fear of missing out was overshadowed by how much I hated clubbing.
During that year, the break-time conversations on Mondays would be filled with stories about who made out with whom over the weekend. Since I didn't attend the parties, I could not join the conversations. I just sat there quietly, listening.
Instead of going out with the girls, I chose to spend my free time doing what truly made me happy, like reading books and watching shows. Even though I seemed to be "lonely" at home while my friends were out clubbing, I knew I would be more alone in the club where I did not belong.
Looking back now, I wish I had the courage to let them know what I truly felt --- that I just didn't like partying. Maybe some of them didn't like going partying either and just gave into peer pressure. If I could go back in time, I would've tried to initiate alternative ways to hang-out, like shopping or going to the movies.
It's Okay Not to Like Parties and Drinking Culture The key message here is that your feelings are valid. Just because parties are a popular way of socializing doesn't mean they're the only way or even the best way for everyone. It's important to prioritize your own comfort and well-being over societal expectations. If you find yourself not enjoying parties or the drinking culture, there's no need to force yourself into situations that don't align with your preferences.
Alternate Ways to Socialize
If you're seeking alternative ways to socialize without having to participate in partying or drinking, consider these:
💡 Host Intimate Gatherings: Host small, intimate gatherings with close friends or family that allows for deeper conversations and a relaxed atmosphere.
💡 Engage in Shared Activities: Organize activities that align with your interests. This could range from book clubs and art workshops, to hiking groups and cooking classes. Shared interests provide a natural way to connect with others.
💡 Attend Low-Key Events: Attend cultural events, lectures, or workshops in your community where you can meet like-minded individuals.
Dealing with Bars and Clubs
Sometimes you just cannot avoid these social scenes. If you find yourself in such situations, remember the following:
💡 Select Non-Alcoholic Options: Choose a mocktail, soda, or fruit juice to enjoy while socializing.
💡 Set Boundaries: Let people know that you're not comfortable drinking and prefer to enjoy the atmosphere without alcohol.
💡 Focus on the Experience: Enjoy the music, dance, or conversation, and remember that you're there to have a good time on your own terms.
In conclusion, not liking parties and the drinking culture is a personal preference that deserves respect. It's essential to honor your own comfort and engage in social activities that resonate with you. Your journey is unique, and your preferences are valid.
Remember, you get to shape your path and create a life that's true to who you are.
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