Not going out can be self-care

By Ashvini Malshe, Columnist

This campus has a feverish party culture. One can feel it in the hazy smell of tequila and echoes of Pitbull or The Chainsmokers that disseminate into the air starting from 11 p.m. on Tuesday night into the earliest fleeting seconds of Sunday morning.

To resist this culture is seemingly impossible.

With so much pressure to give in to the party vibe from every direction of your life (some TAs and professors included), the need to let go of everything, including your sanity, just to forget what’s important for even a minute, can seem irresistible to even the staunchest of curmudgeons.

For the past year, I have been overly stressed with internship applications, graduate school on the horizon and self-destructive thoughts of failure looming in my mind. I thought for a while that the only way I could escape these stresses was to give in to the party culture, to let go of my worries and give in to the euphoria of going out.

And for a while, it worked. Rather, it became addictive. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t the alcohol or any men I was searching for, but the all-consuming energy I felt dancing under technicolor lights and from the blaring music, surrounded by people from every angle. I felt like I couldn’t find that anywhere else.

However, the thing about temporary highs is that they come in the form of loud, sneaking feelings that seep into your skin and spread quickly, but only stick for hours at a time. Nothing about that escape is permanent, and that reality posed a lot of existential problems for me.

I realized I needed a solution or an escape that was grounded in reality and didn’t make me feel like I was running away from my problems, but rather channeling that stressful energy into activities that would help me grow as a person. Really, I wanted to learn how to embrace the stress — a seemingly daunting task.

In an entry from May 25 in “The College Puzzle,” a Stanford University college success blog, contributor Robert Parmer points out how beneficial it is in the long run for college students to not let stressful emotions manifest and view them as “stigmatizing,” but rather to embrace stress.

Parmer further explains that this coping technique is more positive and “may prove to help you win the daily battle” that stress can pose in your life.

Understanding this was revolutionary for me. Caring for myself, I realized, in ways that matter, are fundamentally more life-affirming than escaping my problems through partying. With this knowledge, I began changing small parts of my habits.

I made sure to work out twice a week; I strived to nourish my body with cleaner, healthier foods; I indulged in things like chocolate, television and beauty products and I always made sure I was at my comfiest at home. This meant surrounding myself with pillows, drinking herbal tea, socializing with people I wanted to socialize with and meditating for a couple of minutes every day.

These changes weren’t at all easy, but I found that they stuck more faithfully to my soul than going out ever did. All I felt was the stability of relief, confidence and happiness. It was freeing.

To me, self-care is more of an escape than a bottle of tequila or the line at Joe’s ever could be. And I’m grateful that I took a chance on myself and tried to find alternative outlets for my stress, because who I am now is someone I never thought I could be.

So, take a chance on yourselves, friends. More importantly, take care of yourselves.  

Ashvini is a senior in LAS. 

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