As fall creeps closer and the semester settles into its familiar ebbs and flows, one thing I find myself having to persuade myself to do is go out. Anticipating another year of rad parties and whirlwind Friday-night tales, I returned to school excited for new memories made dancing and doing crazy things with my friends. Unbeknownst to me, my junior year attitude (dare I say wisdom) has altered my perception of the perfect weekend night. Though the semester is new, I foresee many evenings to come being spent in a sweater on my couch instead of in skinny jeans on the town. Hitting the halfway point in college changes the whole notion of partying, for better or for worse!
As a youthful first-year alight with the anticipation of all that college holds, going out was exciting. The strobe lights, pounding music and flirty glances across the room were exhilarating; dancing the night away became a weekly Friday night routine. Going out is a way to meet new people and make connections under the guise of darkness and under the influence of liquid courage.
As a junior though, the parties lose their thrill. Being more socially established on campus eliminates the need to attend the biggest parties, because you’ll probably know most everyone there already! All of the elements integral to a wild night morph into excuses employed to avoid a night out, because you’d rather be in bed with some Cheetos and asleep at a reasonable hour.
FOMO no longer controls your weekend decisions, because in your first half of long and late evenings out on the town, you’ve probably seen and done it all. There’s nothing to miss out on after you’ve spent two entire years checking things off your list of college to-do list. Drunkenly jumping in the lake is not something that needs to happen more than once; after so many visits, fraternity houses begin to look grim and only remind you of the time your threw up in the bushes walking home. Some things are indeed better missed out on.
On Sunday morning, you know the cute photos that surface on Instagram that took eighteen tries to capture, and the one awesome moment in the photograph wasn’t what the rest of the night looked like. Also, selfies in your pajamas are equally as adorable, and you don’t have to scream at people who keep walking through the shot to get the right one. You can double tap your way through post-weekend pics without batting an eye at what you may have missed. As a junior, you’ve overcome the FOMO of the past. Now, the real fear is missing out on three extra hours of sleep, or worse, under-appreciating the new multigrain chips you bought because you ate them after too many glasses of jungle juice. A tragedy!
Blaring music, excessively inebriated underclassmen, exhaustion and the potential of a hangover carry more weight in deciding whether the annual ’80s-themed back-to-school rager is worth it (and it’s soooo not worth all the messiness). Not to mention the logistics of getting your whole group there, and somehow wrangling everyone up to leave together. Who would want to be smushed up against sweaty strangers that smell like warm beer, bumping to mediocre music when curling up with a glass of Pinot Grigio and Netflix is an alternative? Not this old junior, no way!
Yet, sometimes longing for the twilights of juvenescence win over a junior-ized heart and the dance floor calls. Through the years, if you’ve learned anything by partying, it’s how to do it smarter, but not necessarily harder. Flying out the door with your phone half charged, already tipsy from a couple of pregame shots, with no coat and one shoe untied are days bygone. Once you achieve junior year status, going out is a routine that has been tweaked to perfection.
You know exactly how long it takes to get ready, when to begin pregaming and how much to drink before you leave. Your essentials kit includes your phone, a portable charger, chapstick, gum, your keys, condoms and maybe Band-Aids if you’re the squad parent. Leaving without a jacket is not an option; you’ve learned where to hide it, or how to padlock it to a pipe in a fraternity laundry room so that you don’t have to walk home in the cold after it has been stolen (I’ve done this, I’m not ashamed). You’ve become the master of party prep, the party itself and returning home with all of your belongings and your dignity intact.
It has taken you two years, but you finally know your limits, something your parents cautioned you to acknowledge when they dropped you off. It took junior year for that phrase to have any real meaning, but as you creep into adulthood you understand its value. Now all the wiser, you know what, when, where and to what extent you can drink without suffering any undesirable consequences in the morning.
Even better, your nights out are less often spent corralling your tipsy-turvy pals who can’t get a grip and more often spent getting down on the dance floor together, because your friends have established their own limits too. On the rare occasion that one of your buds hits the bottle too hard, they will likely apologize in the morning, rather than bragging about how nuts their night was.
Yet, they might receive a curt, passive-aggressive lecture from your squad about growing up and being a responsible almost-adult. When the whole group puts their limits into practice, a night out becomes a fun night out, one devoid of spending the evening on the bathroom floor and not being able to find anything you own. Above all, becoming a junior has taught you to do what you really want to do, whether that’s partying or not!