First post in a long, long time – hope it is any good!
One year of college has gone by. The entire year was marked by freedom: freedom to study what you want, freedom to befriend who you want, and freedom to live your life how you want. However, while some people took every advantage of the freedom that college offered, I chose to handle things a little different, particularly in the social nature of college. I believe that as the year went on, I began the long journey of freeing myself from my own insecurities; one means of doing so was by changing my perspective on the weekend. Therefore, after all this, I came to the following conclusion: I am the quintessential social deviant. Viewing deviance as a violation of social norms, sociologists have characterized it as any thought, feeling or action that members of a social group judge to be a violation of their values or rules. Through my time at BC, while I have not evaded the party and social scene by any means, I have managed to separate myself from the homogenous student body and its monotonous idea of an “amazing weekend.” In not going out all the time, the social deviant has managed to obtain freedom from the societal norms and pressures of college and make his or her own decisions.
Most individuals act in a similar manner every weekend. As Friday dawns, students begin to scramble. Nearly everybody sends out the same thousand texts and asks the same question: “what are you doing tonight?” These five words have defined the college experience for the majority of the student body, especially the eager freshman. Once the word of a party gets out, the next few hours, usually till about three or four in the morning, are spent in getting ready, pre-gaming, going to the party, dancing, and getting late night, among other things. Subsequently, as a result of the excessive drinking, most people wake up with a splitting headache in the afternoon. By the time anybody has recovered, it is already time to repeat the cycle and find out more parties for Saturday night. The same texts are sent out, the same questions are asked, and the nighttime festivities begin. As expected, Sunday morning mimics Saturday, and nobody can actually get down to doing something productive till late Sunday. Many at BC no longer look for alternatives to have fun with and have essentially gotten stuck in a rut.
However, the social deviant does not fall within this cycle of parties and hangovers every single weekend. While I am in no way someone who chooses to stay in all the time, I am also not someone who wishes to go out every weekend on both nights anymore. In fact, I actually was the typical student first semester. I simply became bored and tired of the same type of party / social activity every single weekend. This semester I began to question what I was doing and what was this phenomenon of the amazing weekend that I, along with everybody else, was running after? These questions were raised as a result of who I was before I came to college. In high school, only a few nights a month were devoted to the “party” scene. I used to go to the movies, go bowling, dine out (instead of throwing away limited money on beer), and do many other constructive activities. Essentially, sober fun without any pressures of getting into a “killer party” or hooking up with someone. I thus began reconsidering my social life and started wondering what suddenly changed when I came to college that changed my perspective towards the weekend.
In terms of the college scene, the typical student aims to experience “Amazing Weekend Night,” an idealistic notion we all chase after in order to provide some form of meaning to our very existence, especially as the weekend rolls around. Our want to exist around the this symbol is due to a lack inherent within us, one that makes us unable to ground our own identities because we cannot determine what it is that makes us “us.” No matter how much we wish to fill the lack, unfortunately, we never shall attain the objects of our pursuits. We aim to fill this lack in our existence by chasing the “Amazing Weekend Night.” Unfortunately, this sense of incompleteness we feel turns us into insecure beings who are driven by our animalistic tendencies to fall in line with the pack – a “herd mentality,” if you will. We cannot seem to grasp what it is that makes us feel empty. Therefore, those that fail to realize that they cannot fill this lack try to fill it by going out and engaging in simple pleasures (drinking, smoking, hooking up, etc.), even if they may not wish to on that occasion. Out of resistance to the idea that the lack cannot be filled, students push ahead towards trying to find that amazing weekend night. They attempt to use every weekend and opportunity that they have in order to top the previous weekend in an endless cycle of parties and hangovers. As long as the ideal is always there, as long as the “perfect” weekend has not been de-idealized, students are still satisfied in their chase. The “Amazing Weekend Night” is a target for most and they continuously desire it even when it is not possible, since the next weekend could always potentially be better. Insecurity arises within everybody because they begin to question themselves with “what if this weekend truly isn’t better?” or “what if there truly is some sense in staying in sometimes?” There are numerous people who force themselves to go out even though they wish to stay in, just because they feel that they have to. Instead of coming to this understanding that staying in is a choice, they go out and often regret the decision the next morning.
In fact, it is not even the case that the social deviant does not ever go out and stays in all the time. Instead, he or she has the freedom to choose when to go out and when not to go out. This has been achieved by breaking free from the current societal norm of always going out. The only way to do this is by breaking from the commands of the symbol of the “Amazing Weekend Night” and staying in. This of course begs the question of why one would stay in on a weekend and contemplate stuff like this, rather than go out, get drunk, and have a good time. Sometimes, like the social deviant did, each one of us needs to take the impossible choice and perform the radical act (i.e. stay in). For example, Slavoj Zizek uses the idea of Keyser Soeze from the Usual Suspects, when he “returns home and finds his wife and small daughter held at gunpoint by the members of the rival mob, he resorts to the radical gesture of shooting his wife and daughter themselves dead – this act enables him mercilessly to pursue members of the rival gang…in a situation of the forced choice, the subject makes the ‘crazy,’ impossible choice of, in a way, striking at himself at what is most precious to himself.” Even though the college social scene is not such an extreme case, it is still something that seems radical for college students because we have a very limited scope of the world. Going out is the biggest thing for most 18-22 year olds, so not going out is naively viewed as the “radical act.” Only by doing so does one “change the coordinates of the situation in which the subject finds himself: by cutting himself loose from the precious object…the subject gains the space of free action.” Each and every one of us must break free from this constant cycle of parties and realize that this notion of the perfect weekend night can never be achieved. In coming to this realization, we do not make it our constant goal to always go out every weekend but rather, we take the calculated choice to either go out or not go out, like the social deviant.
Of course, the obvious reaction to this thesis is just saying, “I go out just because it is fun! There is no need to over-think the simple act of partying.” While this may be in some sense over-thinking, it still is an accurate portrayal of the human psyche and how we choose to do things because of our innate insecurities buried within us. People do go out because it is fun, but the social deviant also chooses to do the same thing. However, the difference is that he or she will go out only because it is fun, not because he or she feels that it is required. The constant party-goer always has to go out, but the social deviant has choice.
Each and every person who reads this post should try and reconsider the way the college weekends are handled. Do not force yourselves to constantly drink – think about the many other things you used to enjoy before college. Nobody is saying that you should not go out and have a great time – but only, only if you truly want to.