Romantic comedies, Hester Prynne and Beer Pong

I slept in last weekend.

And I liked it.

Since I’ve gotten to IU, I have somehow convinced myself that I cannot, should not and will not sleep in past 8:30 a.m. At least until this past weekend when I rolled out of bed at 10 a.m. Twice. And I feel no shame.

It’s been a challenge trying to figure out how to balance training, classes, extracurriculars and a social life. Last semester involved a multitude of emotional calls home filled with paradoxes, hypocritical statements and a constant cloud of confusion. I’d probably be lost, miles south of Bloomington, arbitrarily roaming the streets if it weren’t for my parents’ incredibly patient listening skills and ability to decipher the nonsensical things that occasionally escape my lips. In high school, it was easy to escape being social; I just had to sit in my living room with my parents watching romantic comedies on Friday nights. But in Bloomington, living in a dorm, it’s a little different. Every minute of every day is social time. There is no escape, no alone time, no mom to join me in watching Emma Stone portray Hester Prynne. It’s just a bunch of 18 year-olds fueled with caffeinated beverages, little responsibility and unlimited microwavable mac and cheese. And I’m not a big fan of caffeine or easy mac; there was a bit of an adjustment period.

In August, the college social scene was intimidating. I had never been to a party with alcohol. I had never been out until four in the morning. I had never been asked to dance. I didn’t even know there were rules for beer pong. I was sheltered, and I liked it that way. I had this gnawing fear that I would be exposed to that “peer pressure” they warned me about in grade school, and that I wouldn’t be able to negate it. I let this fear grow until it became so monstrous, it consumed me. I refused to do anything anyone told me, even if it was my idea in the first place. I wasn’t afraid of my peers, I was afraid of myself.

In high school, everything seemed black and white: you either went to a party, got wasted and lost all self-respect, or you stayed home, watched romantic comedies and hoped someday your life would end up just like Gigi’s in He’s Just Not That Into You. Since coming to Bloomington, I’ve learned there’s a large and vast gray area, and it’s not a bad thing to reside there. I have been offered many drinks, and I’ve been able to say “no thanks,” free of fear, judgement or criticism. I have been out until four in the morning, and I enjoyed it. I have been to a frat party, and it was fun. I have gone dancing and actually had a really good time. I did all of these things while staying true to myself, my values and my lifestyle. While I don’t plan on going out every night of every weekend, I do plan on facing my insecurities. I have missed out on one too many opportunities to meet new people, learn new things and experience life, and I’m finally ready to step out of my comfort zone and see what the world has to offer. Training and academics will always take precedence, but living my life to the fullest is one thing I can never turn down. College has taught me so much more than how to do my laundry. I stand a little taller, smile a little wider and reach a little further everyday.

Peer pressure no longer scares me; my insecurities are not nearly as haunting. I’ve finally learned to trust my gut, head and heart. I am not my worst enemy. I am one of my greatest allies.

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