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On Alcohol & Relationships: The Red & Blue Ivy League Edition

be my guest The following is a guest post from Erica Ligenza. Erica is a current sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and blogs at Coming Up Roses. I am thrilled to have met Erica in the ether. She is a wonderful thinker and writer and here, she tackles a tough topic that you all know is interesting to me. Erica would be thrilled to hear from you in the Comment Box below. Oh, and hey to all the cool college kids reading my blog today!

coming up roses

On alcohol and relationships: the Red and Blue Ivy League edition

by erica ligenza


You’re probably thinking, who is this random brunette chick and why is she here? I’m not Aidan in disguise, I swear. HUGE thank you to Aidan for allowing my totally amateur, college student self to give my two cents here today. In case it matters – I’m a UPenn soph, I’m full of my own Ivy League insecurities, and I write over at Coming Up Roses every hump day. Because whose hump day couldn’t use a little pick-me-up? But I digress.

Aidan suggested that I share my opinion on something not unfamiliar to Ivy League Insecurities – alcohol. Alcohol, Ivies, and relationships, to be exact. An unlikely threesome. One that’s nearly impossible to maintain (in my humble opinion).

Cutting to the chase, I’ve never been a “drinker,” but I’m definitely not against alcohol or drinking. Before college, I was vowing to never be caught dead stumbling around at a frat party or to associate “need” with alcohol. I still don’t consider myself a “drinker” – someone whose life is otherwise affected by drinking in a not-so-healthy way. Those who exclaim “Oh, FOR THE LOVE OF, I just need to get drunk tonight.” Those who plan on blacking out and “going hard” to forget the ho-hum crazies of college life. They do it to forget, and what they end up remembering is that they can’t remember their “craaaaaazy!!” night out.

And I don’t get it.

But then again, I do. Because we’re all in this together in the jungle that is college. I’m a wine girl myself, although I do love a Rum and Coke or anything fruity (I’m a girl, it’s in our genes to like anything with fruit). Alcohol has this effect, and it’s on turbospeed at college. We take a sip, metaphorically embracing the societal quo that all worries will wash away, and then there’s that warm tingle in your chest. People start “warming up” and walls come down, and ALL OF A SUDDEN conversation has never been better and people have never been nicer and friends have never cared so much about what we think is the meaning of life. Everyone loves everyone.

And it feels nice. Because we see ourselves relating to everyone on this “deeper” level, sharing this little not-so-secret bond over alcohol-induced, de-edged conversation.

But is it real?

Is it possible to maintain good relationships (especially with a significant other), a rigorous school curriculum, and heavy drinking, all in cahoots? I have my doubts – something’s got to give.

But I do find it incredibly fascinating what that says about our society. What that says about our generation’s “needs” and how we view moments in life. Are we more interested in creating memories or in creating talking points for the next day?

Our generation is in a tough spot thanks to good ol’ society. We’re in this constant struggle to match societal quo and go along with a ___ proof flow every Saturday night, but we don’t all identify with it. Alcohol brings us temporary, superficial bliss. By the next morning, all we’re left with is a helter skelter memory, clothes that need to see the washing machine, and a wicked headache. And then we’re out of bed (or off of some frat house’s couch) and on damage control duty for the photos now circulating social media and the texts not meant to be sent. Relationships aren’t even attempted oftentimes, because there’s too much risk involved. Risk that we might not like it, or someone might have the wrong intention, or we’d have to give up the current night-lifestyle.

Why is it necessary to go so hard? Blacking out shouldn’t be considered fun – it’s downright dangerous. In college, we all want total control of our lives – we want power over our academic standing and social status. Our string of daily events is laced with control. We yearn for control over our grades and of our careers, on a path of know-how with few bumps along the way. Losing control once in a while seems “exciting” to us, with the thrill of not knowing how a night will turn out. Could it be that deciding to lose control make us still somehow feel in control?

After three semesters of college, I’m thinking society is wrong. I know the problem isn’t Ivy-League-exclusive. But maybe a heightened level of academia and intensified career pressures make alcohol seem like a necessity. We grow up fast here, so it makes us feel more like adults. Feeling like we lack the time or confidence to foster sincere friendships and relationships might make alcohol seem needed – we can just cut the “awkwardness” and get right to friending on all social media. We try to cover the stressful moments and the awkward moments and the disappointing moments with what sometimes seems like a blanket of alcohol, but sometimes we can’t see how it looks from the outside. Meanwhile, really good moments come and go. The kinds of moments that leave you genuinely happy, feeling confident and content and on top of the world. Moments where you feel really loved and cherished or full of laughter and lighthearted bliss. And they’re missed. Or they’re taken for granted. Life is a series of little moments. Whether the moments are good or bad, I at least want to remember them the next morning.

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How would you describe your college drinking? If you drank in college or are still in college and do drink, what motivates you? Can you relate to what Erica writes here? Anyone else out there wish you had the poise and perspective she has at such a young age?


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