Why do we tend to develop bad habits in college?

source: h-e-r-o-i-n

I always say that I’m astounded by the diversity of people that I’ve met in college, but nowadays, I mean it in a different way.

My friends, their lives have been shaped by 18 years or so on this Earth, influenced by their background, their upbringing…they already have habits hammered into their routines, both good and bad.

So what happens when they come to college? Here, you have much less time to think/write/reflect on decisions you have to make when you have class to go to, parties to attend, clubs to participate in, and readings to do.

And with friends, I can’t assume that I know what their experiences have been, let alone what’s best for them, considering that I only met most of them a little less than a year ago.

The fact of the matter is that some first years would rather drop friends who seem to be troublesome/bad influences than make an effort to “change” or “help” them.

Bad habits form when people are curious, aren’t afraid to experiment, and don’t take much time to think their decisions through.

People I met in the fall started out the year with saying, “I don’t want to drink alcohol,” and now they drink regularly. It’s not necessarily that drinking alcohol is problematic, but issues arise when people feel compelled to drink to have a good time.

It also doesn’t make sense to me how people can think that these activities are risk-free, just based on the fact that nothing awful happened one night. Putting yourself in this position does nothing but increase the likelihood that something bad may happen. It often takes but one bad experience to haunt you forever. Why are we taking that so lightly?

Can we blame ourselves? The peer pressure here is more intense than ever, considering that you’re living among your friends, with no parents breathing down your neck. Unsure of what to do with all of this freedom, we go crazy thinking that we’re finally ~adults~, and thinking that what this must mean is that we should drink alcohol like water.

A Wednesday hump day will easily turn into Wine Wednesday. Stop denying it, peer pressure in college is real. I can’t believe I ever thought it’d be better in college than in high school. A larger percent of the student body smokes, drinks, and has sex.

When most people hear the phrase “peer pressure”, they think of someone pressing a beer into your hand after you’ve refused, saying, “Come on, it’s just a beer.” The truth of the matter is that this is actually relatively uncommon in college, depending on the nature of your school. Other factors that play into this are the size of the school and geographical location. Most people are quite respectful and won’t press more than once if someone refuses to engage in risky activities.

The peer pressure that I am referencing, that I think is much more prevalent, is the subtle kind that

I have learned this after observing myself, my friends, and my peers after months in our first year of college. We are vulnerable social creatures, eager to make friends, yet we also expect to “discover ourselves” at the same time.

People who refuse to acknowledge this majority (that college students are much more likely to smoke, drink, have sex, etc.) are lying to themselves. But some of these people may be curious one-timers. They won’t find any appeal in the way they feel or behave.

Others, however, will come to do it regularly. Some of these risky activities are physically/psychologically addicting. You think you have to do it to have fun. “It just makes everything more fun.”

Well, what happens when you can’t eat or listen to music or socialize unless you’re high and/or drunk?

Alcohol becomes a social lubricant. You can’t go a weekend without it. Once a week becomes twice a week, becomes more-often-than-not. You’re abusing privileges you don’t technically have. You will be much less likely to quit.

Sober weekends are super tough. You either stay in your room or find a group of sober people or be sober at a party, or just escape. We have Chicago, just a short train ride away. There’s so much to do, eat, and buy. You can have fun without alcohol or drugs. Don’t you remember what it was like before you ever discovered this dangerous trifecta? Enjoyable, crisp memories.

At the end of the day, it stresses me out knowing that many people in my life, myself included, are faced with this dilemma. It stresses me out even more knowing that there is little I can do, as this has become a reality for many students, who have just gotten so used to the lifestyle.

People have been stuck in these habits for years or months. What’s a strongly worded blog post going to do about it? Probably not much, but you know where I’m coming from. When I get frustrated, I write it out.

It’s also tough to not come off as the judgmental angry “friend” who is hypocritical and thinks she’s better than you. Tread lightly. Don’t be so quick to judge others.

What’s your opinion?



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