Feeling like a grandparent before you’re 21? No problem!

The pressure to party and live up the good days with crazy adventures, late night parties and endless moments with best friends is inevitable in college towns such as Eugene. In the fall, students will face this pressure with the added layer of wanting to go back to normal life after COVID-19.

Social media exacerbates the pressure to live a flawlessly upbeat young adult life. The inherent need for everyone to be connected, yet have separate time alone to regroup and process, is a hard reality to navigate as a young adult. The pressure will only be more intense for students as they return to campus in the fall. College, for me personally, has been a lot of experimenting with how to balance work, life, friends, family, self care and school. Figuring out the appropriate amount to let loose is messy, fun, intense and everything in between. The societal influence to be the life of the party often leads to shame and loneliness or doing an activity because of peer pressure, not personal enjoyment.

My take on this? Everyone needs their vices. Some people find comfort in socialization, alcohol, smoking, running, sleeping, drawing, eating and starving; the list goes on. The best years of your life might look like you huddled away in a cozy bed doing homework on a Friday night — but that should not be saddening if being huddled away in bed is what makes you happy. I know what makes me happy: not being hungover.

In “Lonely Weekend,” Kacey Musgraves said, “I keep looking at my phone, puttin’ it back down. There’s a little part of me that’s got the fear of missing out.” Kacey sings about spending the weekend alone, but not minding it. She adds that a voice in her head is still telling her she is missing something. FOMO, or the fear of missing out is a well-known term that was even added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013. If a 32-year-old millionaire and country singer gets FOMO on the weekends by herself, you can only imagine how a bunch of broke and stressed-out college kids feel.

Amy Summerville, professor of psychology at Miami University in Ohio corroborates Musgrave’s lyrics as she suggests our biological need for socialization and inclusion is one of the driving forces of the FOMO phenomenon. The need for socialization is heightened in college when students are away from their families and friends — sometimes for the first time in their lives. With movies such as “Animal House” for our grandparents and “Neighbors” for our generation, the over-the-top party culture in college is normalized and expected. But what does that do to students who are not necessarily into the party scene, but feel the need to be included in the mainstream notion of partying in college?

Party culture feeds into the sense of social inadequacy. No matter how driven you are in school or how secure you feel staying inside, party culture on social media and in movies will make you question — at least for a second — if you are cool enough, fun enough, friendly enough and so on.

Partying, by social standards, deems you cool, fun and friendly. Being in a book club, though, also makes you cool, fun and friendly. There is no and should not be a link between attending parties and your worth.

And yes, of course I would like to reflect back on a few rowdy nights, or as the cliché goes, nights I won’t remember with the people I will never forget. Even grandpas and grannies drink tequila sometimes — not every weekend — but sometimes nevertheless.

From my experience, partying can often have an inverse relationship to self-worth. College is a complex institution with many layers contributing to the culture and community it cultivates. Narrowing your perspective to the hot-pseudo-alcoholics with three-thousand followers on Instagram damages your own college experience. When I look back at college, I want to remember the amazing connections with friends, my experiences with professors and my academic accomplishments and failures. Education is a privilege, and it is normal to want to stay in, focus, not go with the crowd and really go at a pace that feels comfortable.