Sean Flack

I’ll always remember my first drink of alcohol. It was freshman year, and I was at a friend of a friend’s apartment party. I walked in with my eyes so full of wonder and excitement. Golly gee, my first college party.

As soon as I plopped down on the couch, a guy sat next to me with an empty glass and a bottle of Hawkeye vodka. “Hey, man, you drink?” he asked. “S-sure,” I replied. He poured straight vodka into the glass and gave it to me along with a bottle of lemon Gatorade. “Drink this, then drink that” were his instructions.

So I drank the vodka like I would any other beverage. Little did I know the effect it would have on my throat. “It’s awful,” I exclaimed, scrunching my face. The guy pushed the Gatorade toward me and told me to drink up. The Gatorade did help, but I still couldn’t get over how terrible the vodka was. In fact, my entire freshman year involved a who’s who of awful alcoholic drinks.

Luckily I’m 21 now, so I’ve had the luxury to know what I like and what I don’t like. But no matter how many times I tell an adult that I actually enjoy the taste of alcohol, they look at me with disapproving eyes. I just wish people our age didn’t give alcohol such a bad name by abusing and binging on it.

This is not a lecture or public service announcement, but just me asking you to think about your decisions. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It doesn’t mean you can’t go out. Just think. Know your limits. Spend a night at a place you’re comfortable with with some close friends. See how your body reacts to different drinks and how many it takes to get to a point where you need to stop. No matter how “bro-tastic” it might be, no one wants to spend a night puking up blood.

A group in my English class last year gave a presentation about how they thought the drinking age should be lowered to 18. That is a horribly awful idea. You know why? Because 18-year-olds are dumb and don’t know their limits. Hell, there are middle-aged adults who don’t know their limits. Yes, there are people who are exceptions to the rule, but I feel 21 is a good age because it allows a couple years for a person to mature.

And you know, I like alcohol too, but it seems like so many people on Facebook’s entire identity is composed of a red Dixie cup. I swear, it’s as if some of these people just do it to be “cool.” Playing beer pong with Natty Ice and taking shots of Hawkeye doesn’t make you a badass. Proudly displaying those nights on Facebook just makes you look immature.

I know these nights with friends and alcohol can be memorable, but I’m just asking you to think a little more. Write a note on your hand. Don’t give in to peer pressure. If you don’t want another drink, say so. Don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it become your identity. Yes, you’ll have those nights where you’re a sloppy drunk, but make sure it doesn’t become a habit. Passed out on the sidewalk yelling how you want your mom and a Superdog is not an attractive quality.

I don’t mean to throw stones — Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of embarrassing nights — I just feel like all of us college students get lumped together when it comes to drinking. And that’s kind of unfair because there are people who can control themselves. So for new freshmen, returning students, or whoever, I implore you to just think. Let’s prove that we can all legitimately enjoy a beer without acting stupid.