What are some of the benefits of staying sober at college parties? You may well ask. College is starting and thousands of freshman will be living away from home for the first time. For some, it may also be the first time they’ll drink and attend parties. The pressure will be strong to drink. What are some social skills needed to stay safe and feel cool?

I didn’t party much as a college student. So, here are three ways it helped in the long run.

How a staying sober at college parties helped

1. I kept my head clear. Alcohol and running short on sleep are horrible for your brain. Hangovers interrupt your classwork and daily functions. It’s tough to focus on necessary lectures and—face it—we aren’t paying a fortune to destroy our livers and memories. I avoided drinking at parties because it wasn’t my thing and I needed all of those brain cells if I was ever to get through algebra. 

2.  Girls aren’t often aren’t told how much is too much. One drink for a guy is the equivalent of two drinks for a girl. So, if a guy is egging on a female friend to take two shots with him, he’s having two drinks, but the girl he’s with is actually having four. That get very dangerous very quickly. I didn’t know that until far after my college experience when I was safe and not encouraged to binge-drink at parties. And if you have to drink to loosen up, you shouldn’t be loosening up at all. 

3. I didn’t have extra, unnecessary stress. Stress and college are like coffee and mornings. Or bacon and eggs. You get the picture. With the workload of a full-time student plus a part-time job, it’s tough to balance. Add the partying and drinking on the weekends into the mix and there’s even more stress. That’s time that could have been used to write that 12-page term paper. And now, chances are, that time you spent drinking is down the drain. Quite literally. 

4. I found my talent and passion. Instead of falling in love with the bottle, I found love elsewhere, in writing, for one. I realized I was good at it, too, and could see myself doing it for the rest of my life. Had I spent that weekend out instead of working on homework, I don’t know if I would have found writing so early in my life. 

What I didn’t learn staying sober at college parties

1. I didn’t know how to fend off unwanted attention. Alcohol can turn even the best people into nightmares. By staying sober at parties, you can see how people lose control. I went to a handful of parties and didn’t stay late. By doing that, I missed out on a pretty important lesson: You don’t have to put up with unwanted, inappropriate actions from anyone. I learned this later, after putting up with uncomfortable teasing and advances. Because I was never really in that kind of situation before, I let it go on much longer than I should have. I didn’t know how to handle it. But now I do. 

2. What will you miss? When you’re in college, it’s easy to worry about what you’ll miss. There are so many new people around you looking for shiny, new experiences while trying to get ahead. Who will you meet on campus? Dorm party? Frat house? Chances are, you won’t be meeting your new business partner. Sure, surprises happen, but your best shot at meeting a respectful, potential partner is at a cafe or chilling in the lounge. So, while you may be asking yourself what could have happened at that bar/party, do you really want to know? 

3. My social circle is small. Sure, I have friends. Yes, we went out and attended a few parties. I didn’t live under a rock for four years. We just didn’t engage nearly as much as some other classmates did. My group didn’t like risks, so we didn’t take them often. We missed out on connecting with people who we could have collaborated with on projects—something pretty important for writers and artists. And now, living in this digital era, it’s harder than ever to actually engage with anyone face-to-face. 

Looking back, it’s clear to me that drinking and taking part in risky behavior isn’t worth it. I gained so much more because I was more reserved in college. Did I miss out on experiences that my peers had? Yes, all the bad ones. Do I regret it? No. I made my own fun such as coming up with some fun excuses to avoid drinking.

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Samantha Curreli
Samantha Curreli is a staff writer at Reach Out Recovery. Sam is also a graduate of Arcadia University's MFA in Creative Writing Program and a freelance journalist for New Jersey music magazine, The Aquarian Weekly. She has had multiple pieces of fiction published in literary magazines and short story anthologies.

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