pour me another drink

Alcohol was easily defined for me as a lubricant for my social awkwardness. It started right after I graduated from high school and was forced out of my comfort zone. As I already reminisced, my freshman year found me at Eureka College. It was only a 45-minute drive from home, and with my car on campus with me I had the luxury of escaping back home. This allowed me to only approach the first year to my college experience with a ten-foot-pole.
I had a hard time connecting to people. For the first time, I was in different settings, trying different things and meeting new people. After growing up in the same town that I felt safe and comfortable, I was suddenly hit with crippling anxiety. I couldn’t just talk to new people. I couldn’t be the outgoing, fun-loving person I thought I was. Any party at school I attended, or any time I ate lunch in the cafeteria, it was like my entire body was an exposed nerve.
The comfort of alcohol was like an answer to my prayers. It literally gave proof to the term “liquid courage.” Suddenly, I was able to talk openly with people. Small talk was no longer something that left me frozen with fear.
It brought on something new that I wasn’t used to either. Most of my life, I was never the girl that stood out. I was never exactly the center of attention at parties – or most venues, for that matter. And then, thanks to alcohol, all of that changed. Laugh out loud memories, connecting with new friends and getting hit on by guys that I would have never thought.
At the time, it was fulfilling because I thought these were the types of memories I should be making. I thought that if I spent too much time alone, or being anti-social, that I was doing something wrong. And my anxiety did nothing to help with my feelings of isolation from others my age. I would spend time reading, writing or watching T.V. and wondering if I was doing enough to cultivate my social life. It was this internal struggle and my desire to fit in and – yes, I will admit it – desire for attention that pushed me even farther into the party scene.
One thing to note is that partying is not an uncommon theme from my hometown, so between my time at school and driving home to visit new groups of friends, I was pushing my own limits of what I was comfortable with on all fronts. My alcohol intake began to grow every night I drank, and then the number of nights I drank became more often each week. And so far into my experiences drinking, other than a few…. adventures I decided to go on, I was just having some harmless, young fun.
It began as harmless fun, but I clung to alcohol has the fun in my life and the only method of entertainment. By the time I got to NIU for my second year, it was a crutch that I leaned on heavily. I was able to make friends, but my focus was obviously not on my studies as I fell deeper into the bottle.

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