Published: 26th August 2023
Ahead are some thoughts that I would have loved someone to tell my younger self. I hope that they are at least somewhat useful and quell any anxiety you may have for your first night-out/club experience.
When I first went clubbing (properly) I was surrounded by people I met in the first few days of university. It’s difficult to say that I trusted them, they were nice people but I knew I wouldn’t be best friends, which was fine because I met so so many great people and I still have one year left! However, looking back, I would have liked to have felt more safe, comfortable and grounded.
Trusting the people around you can potentially protect you from dangerous threats or actions that go beyond the level of conscious awareness, especially when intoxicated to a degree exceeding your control. In this instance, friends and others can be your second pair of eyes if something is wrong, whilst also looking out for people that do not have your best interests. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation.
Friends can influence your mood and emotions, as well as decision-making positively or negatively. You are likely to adopt the behaviours of those around you, as you learn the acceptable and not acceptable behaviours within that social context.
University life, as well as youth in general, can be overwhelming and confusing. This is why it’s so especially meaningful to understand the culture you are living in. From academic and social pressure to behaviour change and substance misuse, it is vital to become aware of your own beliefs, opinions and goals, so that you are able to stay strong if peer pressure knocks on your door.
Not everyone wants to go out, drink and club - which is totally fine and normal! Those that do not understand are not the right people to be around. However, if you do want to go out and have fun with your friends, then also be aware of the fact that groupthink, collectivism and FOMO are all very real possibilities that could occur, which could result in severe consequences.
Some groups require an almost entry-like system, where in order to be socially accepted, you will have to complete various tasks. If you feel uncomfortable at any moment it is extremely crucial to leave that group and seek support elsewhere.
This may seem kind of funny but I wish I wasn’t as naive to the world of men as I was when first going out. Some (older) men in nightclubs may take advantage of you, especially as a “fresher” or younger girl. Interestingly, 10% of men claim to be regular clubbers compared to 6% of women in Britain (Mintel, 2016). This could be interpreted as an almost double chance of being approached by a man compared to a woman.
It is indeed a shame to think this way about humanity and young people should not close themselves off from talking to new people. However, the fact that 63% of women out of 2013 adults aged between 18-24 have witnessed sexual harassment on a night out, compared to 26% of men (YouGov/DrinkAware) highlights the potential for harm to women’s safety in nightclubs.
It is a good idea to start off slow with drinking as you can make better and more aligned decisions for yourself. As a young individual with a vast and sudden amount of independence, it is likely that you will make mistakes and that is okay. Learning to discover your limits is important and ultimately essential for regular nights out. Being more in control of yourself can prevent manipulation or persuasion from others, allowing you to enjoy the present moment without any issues, like vomiting on your new shoes.
By all means, have fun and go a little crazy for your first time, but I wish I was slightly wiser about the level of drink I could handle whilst still looking out for myself.
Finally, I wish my younger self knew to enjoy herself without feeling guilty for having a good time and hooking up with strangers if she wants. Being mindful that she should go out for her and not appease social norms and values in uni culture, or to follow her friends.
Navigating the world of nightclubs and first-time experiences involves key considerations: surrounding yourself with trusted friends for safety, being aware of and resilient against peer pressure, and becoming mindful of drinking culture as well as internal power dynamics.
Balancing fun with self-awareness fosters positive experiences while protecting personal boundaries and well-being.
I hope this advice was beneficial to you! :)
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