This I Believe

Elyse - Iowa City, Iowa
Entered on December 14, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: addiction
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in sober fun. I’m not a member of George W. Bush’s moral majority and I don’t even oppose policies to lower the legal drinking age. I’m a nineteen-year-old college student who’s realized that half the fun of my freshman year has been an illusion- a forgotten, blurred, pieced-together-after-several-phone-calls illusion. I’ve had plenty of fun ‘illusions’ in Iowa City, Iowa attending the Princeton Review’s twelfth-ranked party school in the nation. After all, I am a fun-seeking young adult free from parental control and in charge of my own life for the first time. The thing that discomforts me most about my environment is the fact that drinking is the default activity every weekend, which now begins on Thursday. And a buzz isn’t good enough, I need more and more, attempting to keep up with friends who have twice my tolerance. Yet I’m loving every drunken minute of it. The next day I’ll realize how many people I talked to who will never hear my sober voice, people whom I somehow managed to become friends with over the course of the night and ended up having a blast. Photos that will eventually end up online will be taken, and it’ll look like we’re having a great time together, but it’s all just an illusion.

My American generation has taken binge drinking to a new level. Drinking is a hobby, and college students are synonymous with the nightlife of bars and house parties. But I believe that only sober fun is real fun. It’s the kind that’s remembered and cherished, the kind that naturally excites the mind and body. Though it’s harder to achieve for many, its rewards expand far beyond the personality and mind-altering illusion of fun that alcohol provides. This revelation first occurred to me one recent Sunday morning as I looked through a new Facebook album one of my best friends has posted with photos from the previous night. Skewed and out-of-focus images portrayed what looked like an amazing night of drinking, dancing and bar-hopping with a group of kids from my high school who were home for the Thanksgiving holiday. From what I remembered, I had an epic amount of fun that night. But half of the girls I was photographed with I don’t consider my friends when the Smirnoff bottle isn’t there. I knew it wasn’t right, I knew it wasn’t real, and it could all be attributed to my fake sense of reality and fun. Exactly one week later, I experienced the first true fun I’d had in a while, shoving that drunken night, and all others with it, further into the artificial closet of platinum blondes and lightbulb-tanned airheads. Surrounded by family, we celebrated my aunt’s 50th birthday and danced ‘til midnight on a parquet floor to kindred favorites Elton John and Van Morrison. I didn’t down a drop.

But I won’t deny that drinking has brought humans together for thousands of years; It’s a cultural thing, I only wish the culture I was born into could distinguish a truly fun night from a drunken one.

I don’t want to look back on my college years as artificial fun, though it will inevitably be at least a small party of the memory. I only hope that the truly enjoyable times will stand out in my mind, such as studying abroad in France, moving into my first apartment, and making friendships that are based on more than blood alcohol concentration. The next time I hear someone say they blacked out the night before, I won’t say much. I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say “hey, it probably wasn’t much fun anyway.”