Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lowering the drinking age...good or bad for the health of youth?

So out of a lack of anything better to read (and admittedly being a huge dork) I read an article over lunch today about the debate on lowering the drinking age to reduce the number of alcohol related injuries and deaths and alcohol abuse among young adults and older teens. For a while my brother (who has traveled Europe, but is also a drinker) has argued that if Americans lowered the drinking age like the Europeans do then less children would abuse alcohol because they would be cultured to drinking it. Interestingly enough I read that Europeans have some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse and alcohol related injuries are the number one cause of injury...hmm. So I myself debated on the issue...and based on personal experience I do not believe that lowering the drinking age would benefit anyone. I thought back to why I drank and I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that it was wrong or rebelious because I was young...and binge drinking had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn't educated on the effects of hardcore drinking. The reason I drank was primarily social...the reason I binge drank was primarily social...and the reason that I was unable to control myself was based on personal characteristics that did not bode well with substance abuse.

If you think about it...everything has to do with drinking. Once you can bear the taste of alcohol, you want to drink it because that's just what you do. Whether or not you are legally able to buy it, you will still get it somehow. And the case of binge drinking being due to inexperience and the urge to excessively drink in a short period of time because this may be your only opportunity because its illegal...I believe is incorrect. If you think about every game you've ever played while drinking...the goal is to get hammered out of it. Beer bongs = drunk fast, shots= drunk fast, flip cup= drunk fast. I will say card games and beer pong don't necessarily always push getting drunk fast...but when people realize that they aren't getting drunk, they will just take matters into their own hand. Katt Williams did a skit about how before white boys go out to party they are like "tonight....I am getting FUCKED UP". It is just what you do. You proclaim do love it...and you are proud and make a joke of it the next day. And that is why there is a problem with binge drinking. It is a social staple for people ages 16-25 (+/- 3 years).

So what do I think we should do about this? Well everyone reading this is probably thinking "do nothing, duh". But I do think something needs to be done. I do think that places should enforce stricter policies so that it isn't as easy to get totally hammered...and if kids know they are going to get in a lot of trouble, they may not do it (well enough to get caught). But I really think it just has to be a change in culture. Its kind of like obesity...there are a lot of environmental things that can be done, but really it just needs to be a change in the way people view food and activity and how people can learn to enjoy the healthier alternatives...and steer away from the cheap fast food. Young adults need to change the way they view drinking and learn to enjoy just getting drunk and not getting completely hammered...and steer away from the cheap rail liquor.

I have no idea how this problem will get better. And considering children are beginning to drink younger and younger and have crazier stories all the time, I am not sure how it would be possible to make a societal change (which is why it will probably be just regulated stricter because thats a quick solution). But I do think that America has a TON of issues strictly based on our societal values and the culture that we live in. If you provided kids with more places to go to hang out, would they drink less? No...they would just get drunk and then go to these places. Somehow the mindset of getting shitfaced and driving, or getting shitfaced and having sex, or blacking out...basically putting yourself in harms way...that somehow has to be revamped.

But I have no idea how...

Monday, May 24, 2010

An insightful weekend!

Hey friends,

I had quite the insightful weekend filled with lots of fun with family and friends, boosts of confidence, heartache and tragedy. It began with a Friday night of festivities with the family for my brother's graduation from college. The more I hang out with my family the more I love them. I really realized that they are probably the group of people that I honestly feel most comfortable with. It is touching and uplifting to see the look in my mom and dad's eyes when I talk about my life and I can see how impressed and proud they are. And when I talk with my brothers, they seem to truly value my opinions. No matter what silly comments I make or life decisions I talk about, my family just seems to support and love me unconditionally. Plus we are all super sarcastic and incredibly a good time is always had.

Then Saturday night I ended up having a long talk with a friend about my decision to quit drinking cold turkey. He actually asked questions that I had never even considered myself throughout all of these months. The first of which was whether I considered myself an alcoholic. And no I do not. I do not believe by definition I am or have ever been an alcoholic...I think that I have an intense personality and when faced with the opportunity to drink I was not able to control myself...and I think that combined with my relatively low self esteem, need for approval, and drive to please other, I placed myself in very bad situations when I was drunk. So he asked if I ever wanted to have a drink again, or if a drink was placed in front of me could I drink it and react in a calm fashion or would I go off the deep end. And I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that I need control. When I had the sip of champagne in March and started to feel the effects, I felt completely out of control and anxiety consumed my every thought. So now when I see alcohol or contemplate having a drink in celebration or honor, I do not see the point at all. I have become content being sober and cannot think of one possible good thing that would come from me drinking any alcohol...other than "fitting in". I don't even get the relaxed feeling...nor do I ever want to "escape"...because it is the "escaping" that makes me feel out of control.

During this evening I was social and had a great time and felt confident around people that I had needed to drink in front of in the past. Initially I was very worried that I would have nothing to say or be awkward...and I realized that I was fine, and they enjoyed my company, and I really felt very confident and content at the end of the night :) neighbor for my entire childhood passed away on Thursday from a motorcycle accident. Last night I laid in bed and thought about how my brothers and I would make fun of him and his family (because they were a tad strange)...but I was very happy that regardless of the jokes behind closed doors I was always very nice and friendly in person. I realized that you never know when someone is going to leave your life, and there is no point in wasting that time together fighting or insulting one another. There is no point in being mean and using your energy in that manner when you don't know if that could be your last interaction together. I guess it goes along with the saying "live everyday like it's your last"...but instead "live everyday like it's other's last". That way you are appreciating everything and making each moment you spend with people enjoyable. Granted this is totally impossible for some instances...but I would imagine that if you kept this idea in the back of your mind, it might stop you from making pointless jokes or mean comments, or having fights with no resolution.

Oh and one more thing...when I used to drink and people would question if I could handle my alcohol, my response was always "don't doubt me". And internally I was actually very defensive and wanted to show that I was hardcore and could hang. This weekend I realized that that can still be my motto...but in regards to sobriety. Don't doubt me. Don't doubt that that crazy girl you once knew will still be crazy and fun, but will have a good head on her shoulders and her shit together :)

I will say that since I am sober, I can't use alcohol as an excuse for stupid comments so people are noticing my natural retardedness :) But if you don't know ME, you can't love ME.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exhausted...and for what?

I have come to realize (well not really a realization but more of an acknowledgment) that I have spent much of my life trying to please others. For as long as I can remember I have felt as though making other people happy was what I was good at and that in turn made me happy. For years I have gone where others wanted to go, let people use my things, changed my plans for others, and done and said what others wanted to hear. I not only change my activities to please others, but I base my life on what others will approve of...for instance, what hair cuts to get, where to go to school...and more. I guess when we were younger this did make me friends appreciated me and confided in me and enjoyed my company...but as we've grown older I have realized that this lifestyle no longer fulfills my life. I have realized that all of the people I have cared deeply about and have always tried to please to make myself feel good, have other lives and find happiness in more people than just me. And I am in no way complaining, I am just realizing that as we grow older everyone is moving on...creating families and careers and new friends and significant others...and what am I left with?

Am I left with regrets of what I should have done for all this time to make myself happy? Never. But I am left with the reality that while those things made me happy in the short term, I was never working on myself for the long term. Taking care of someone else will only give you so much happiness...because when they leave you high and dry and you are left alone, you find yourself feeling lost and trying to find out what makes you happy. I believe that this will be a hard habit to break, and I fear that in my next relationship I will become a doormat again and will conform my life around theirs and I need to work hard to prevent that from happening.

I feel like I am sort of like the character Julia Roberts plays in Runaway Bride...what kind of eggs do I like? What kind of wedding do I want? And what kind of activities do I enjoy? I've realized that for as many times as I have put someone else first, they will never put me first...which is a good should always look out for number one...because if you don't, you will be left like me. I don't believe I will ever give up my appreciation for making other people happy...because I do believe that the gift of love and support is a wonderful one...but I know that right now I need to start making up my own mind and looking out for myself. One person can only give so much before they are exhausted and have nothing left to give.

I love everyone close to me and I always will, but I think it is time that I love myself more.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Being the better person...who benefits?

Recently I have encountered a couple of situations where I have decided to be the better person (in my eyes). The first of which I was completely bitched out in public by a friend of a friend and called a "fucking cunt". Now initially I was just in total shock and did this really just happen at a Mother's Day event in front of children?!? Then I went through a bunch of things that I could scream back or write back in a bitchy email but decided not to stoop to her level. Then I was asked to discuss some past drama with a friend and was basically told how I had been a crap friend for the past year. And again, I decided to withhold my comments about how that person had hurt me because I didn't want this to turn into pointing fingers...but what for? I've realized that I keep holding in my feelings because I don't want to belittle someone else just to make myself feel better or to get something off my chest...I know what it feels like to have people insult you and how hurtful it can be and I don't want to do that to someone I keep it in or try to say things in a respectful way. But I am a little exhausted from taking all of the abuse and all of the accusations and the name calling and the finger pointing...and keeping my opinions in because I DONT want to hurt them the way that they are hurting me.

I think they are a lot of notions to come from this. First, is it necessary to put someone down to make yourself feel better? Do you really need to get something off your chest so badly that you'd do it at the expense of another person with NO real result or resolution coming from it? Second, should I be preserving someone elses feelings when they clearly don't give a shit about mine? How beneficial is it to be the "better person" when you are the only one who thinks you are acting that way?

I guess what I am saying is before you decide to speak your mind think long and hard about what will come from it. If you have NO intention of speaking your mind for the purpose of resolving an issue, then shut up. If you are going to speak your mind when you know that you have done wrong doing as well but are not going to acknowledge that, then shut up. If you are going to speak your mind to someone that you know is already going through a lot in life and may not be able to handle another thing, then shut up. And if you are going to speak your mind PURELY to make YOURSELF feel better, then shut up.

I know I have been the better person in many situations. And at some point I am sure it will benefit me. And until then I will use my therapy sessions to talk about how everything in life is my fault. Thank you to all those that wanted to speak their mind.