Just drinking and thinking


There’s a weird taboo around the subject of drinking during university. It’s only discussed when it bubbles and spills out on to the institutional side of things — an example being my piece on Winter Carnival last week. Many of those cases are extreme and are not representative of the average experience a student has with alcohol.

I believe drinking is important to think about and discuss. The nature of drinking itself is one that discourages reflection. To live so intensely in a night and forget large chunks of it the next morning. Let’s chug a bottle of water and eat a big breakfast and think about it. What’s up with drinking at university?

It seems logical to associate it with a surfaced sense of freedom. Understandably, parents steer their kids away from liquor consumption. They fear potential alcoholism, as well as stupid drunk decisions and the negative physical effects. For students, drinking becomes a symbolic act of defiance.

Additionally, it has a lot to do with a spike in social interactions. Living with roommates, dealing with co-workers, projects with peers and the expectation to “enjoy university” have us constantly dealing with other human beings. Depending where you find yourself on the extrovert-introvert scale, that can be psychologically taxing.

“Liquid confidence” has more to do with what alcohol takes away than what it gives you. It numbs our concern with how we are perceived. For a night, it shatters Cooley’s looking glass self. Stressing about how we’re viewed in class, refreshing Spotted At Laurier’s page and wondering the best way to tell our roommates to clean the dishes are examples of the mental energy we dedicate to our perception. Alcohol hits that off switch.

Therefore, drinking can be viewed as a symbol of our independent adulthood as well as a culturally prescribed antidote to constant connection.

Yet, there’s something deeper that I believe drinking illuminates. “Drinking is like borrowing happiness from the next day,” I was once told. It’s a focus on the present and a disregard for the future.

Within drinking we find the philosophical tightrope that the student walks. On each shoulder there are voices. One is a devil in a red dress exclaiming, “You’ll only be a student once! Enjoy the moment!’” The other, a business formal suit, explaining, “Think about how your actions right now will impact tomorrow. Are your marks good enough? What job are you going to get?”

The tightrope exists. There is no way around it. Therefore, we must learn to balance.

Aristotle used the term “golden mean” to describe the desirable middle between two extremes. Instead of ignoring the phenomenon of drinking, let’s learn from it.

In one sense, drinking creaks open the door to the experience of many spiritual ideologies. Learning to find happiness in the moment in order to alleviate the imagined stresses of the past and future. Pay attention to what makes you happy when you drink. It is not the tingly feeling in your lips or a sense of imbalance.

It is your willingness to invest yourself in the now, whether that be dancing or expressing how you really feel to someone. You don’t need to drink in order to appreciate the moment.

Experiences will teach you about other experiences. It’s all interconnected. Lessons learned drinking can be lessons learned about university. About life.

Don’t spend the whole night Snapchatting, concerned about your appearance and what you’re doing tomorrow. Don’t spend your whole university time worried about your grades and career that you miss out on the whole experience.

Don’t drink so much in one night that you’re hungover for the next two days. Don’t party so much you mess up your next couple of years. Everyone has a different “golden mean.” Learn from everything and find yours.

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