I drank as much as any other college student. Enough that I knew a few reliable classmates to buy for me until I turned 21. I got smashed on the weekends, sometimes in-between. I was on the university’s rugby team, so I’d been surrounded by a culture of heavy drinking since my first practice. After college, I thought the craze was going to stop. After all, weren’t we supposed to be “adults” now (whatever that meant)? I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t stop. However, I was surprised about the way we went about it.
Instead of “let’s have fun tonight,” we say, “we deserve a break.” Instead of suggesting that we meet up at their house, it’s a bar. Instead of buying me a six pack for my birthday, my friends buy a six pack for a Thursday.
At first I thought it was just my friends acting like this. Maybe I just attract burgeoning alcoholics. I do work at a bar. But then I read Kristi Coulter’s viral essay on why women drink, and it was clear that I wasn’t the only one picking up on this.
There is a pressure on us ladies to be “24 hour women”- to be competent, powerful (but not too powerful), and still undeniably feminine. And, for whatever reason, millennial women are numbing themselves to this pressure with booze. It’s easier to tell your girlfriends that they “deserve this” than it is to tell them “you’ll never get what you deserve.” It’s impossible to tell if Coulter is right here; causations of cultural trends are hard to prove. But it is clear that this particular cultural trend is dangerous, and that it needs to be fixed.
The Problem with Binge Drinking After College
You’d expect younger generations to be consuming the most liquor, we’re health savvy in everything else. We stress the importance of exercising, eating healthy, avoiding smoking… But we still indulge in booze. What exactly are we running from? Are we drowning our sorrows now, well before middle age? Is alcohol just an easy coping mechanism for the too-high expectations of adulthood?
Alright, so the emotional implications are complex enough, but it’s the physical manifestations that are more obvious and seemingly more dangerous. I won’t waste your time telling you about the detrimental physical effects of alcohol; you’ve sat through enough health classes. Despite the array of Powerpoints and repetitive worksheets, we hold onto another narrative when it concerns alcohol. The stories of our parents, TV shows, and music all reinforce this idea that young adults party hard and without regrets (until the next morning.) We all want to be the life of the party who has crazy stories about this one time when we unicycled through a middle school while chugging a bottle of vodka. But these are better stories than they are realities. Even if you disagree, consider that drinking heavy as a young adult makes it easier to keep drinking heavy as a not-so-young adult. As is, we’re a generation headed for mass alcoholism.
How We Can Be Better at Drinking
We all drink for different reasons. I can only speculate when considering an entire generation. I can only look on why I drink- to be included, to numb work, to suppress deep thoughts, and to bring superficial pleasures to the surface. But I’m sure that previous generations drank for the same reasons. And we’re not about to solve those issues in a single blog post.
Instead, let’s change how we drink. We can still go out and have fun, but not every weekend should end with your head in the toilet or chugging Gatorade. We need to be better at accessing our limits. Sometimes, have one drink. Sometimes, have none. A few times, you can get crazy. But our relationship with alcohol shouldn’t be one of dependency and desperation. Instead, it should be a casual fling on the side. Learn how to be fascinating and exciting without booze- not every get together needs it. The generational hangover is not worth it- let’s not stagnate our potential for the sake of a good merlot.