Dear Pawan, I’m going to a Halloween party and it’s gonna be the first time I get drunk ever. My friends know this and they promised to not force me to drink a lot but I’m still worried.
When you’re new to drinking, it seems like every bottle, glass, and shot is filled with a bit of anxiety and a bit of excitement. You’ve seen the most reserved of people become the life of the party, and the most stoic become even more stoic.
Alcohol can be fun when it’s used safely, but throwing a bit of peer pressure into the mix can make things turn sour very quickly. Here’s a few ways to help quash that peer pressure and keep the night fun, on your terms.
First thing, you’ve got to feel the vibe. Within every friend group, there’s always one or two people who facilitate the making and downing of drinks according to somewhat arbitrary rules. While they are doing this out of a desire for everyone to have fun, keep in mind that they probably don’t remember how many drinks they’ve had, so they almost definitely haven’t tracked yours. This type of party-goer can be identified through their battle-cry, something akin to “_____, where the <expletive> is your drink?!” which they quickly rectify by pouring you something strong and watching with glee as you down it. They’ll be satisfied with that, but only for five to ten minutes. If you’re wondering how to combat this, look no further than tip number two.
Keeping your drink close to you is a standard rule of thumb for just about any social gathering you’re attending, but it also has a secondary use in letting you maintain a grip on how much you’re drinking. In drinking games or giving toasts, people don’t really care what you drink, so long as you are actually drinking. To keep things controlled, it’s beneficial to keep a low-alcohol drink, like a beer or cider for whenever someone (usually arbitrarily) calls for a drink in celebration. I once nursed a single, large Somersby can for an entire pre-drinking session hosted by a beloved hype-man and came out of it with nothing more than a polite buzz. If you can’t get any canned alcohols, self-mixed drinks are acceptable alternatives – but be careful with ratios!
Finally, the most important bit of advice I’ve got for those who are worried about the peer pressure is also the simplest: use your voice. Too often at university parties do those unaccustomed to drinking or the party environment find themselves seemingly without a say in how the night is going. You want to fit in and have fun, but something equally as important is keeping yourself safe and staying within your limits. Stay close with your friends, let them know how much you want to drink beforehand and keep an eye out for anything that makes you uncomfortable. When you’re first getting into partying, a strong social web is one of the best things to keep you having fun and staying safe. Try to talk with and get tips from people who have more experience in social gatherings, whether it’s an upper year or older sibling or one of your rockabilly grandparents.
Drinking can be a very scary thing to jump into, but the reality is that partying has a lot of potential in both the positive and negative. You can minimize the latter by getting educated on the dangers and having some trusted folk there to watch your back and share the fun with. Start out small, with lots of your friends around you, all understanding that you’re a bit nervous about getting to drinking. Work your way up, both in number of drinks and size of parties, at a pace that fits how comfortable you think you’ll feel in that situation, based off of what you’ve felt in previous ones. Soon enough, you’ll be partying like a pro at whatever venue you feel most welcome in, whether it be a warehouse rave or black-tie gala, and you’ll have your own wisdom to pass off. All it takes is some close friends and a little time.