One night in my first year at university I offered one of my friends five bucks to not drink that night. He’d already declared he wasn’t drinking. No one could make him. He laughed at me because he had control over whether he drank or not. Or did he? Usually, I only wager when I have control over the outcome, but I felt pretty confident this time. I know five bucks isn’t much, but the five bucks isn’t the point.
When my younger friends ask about going into a college environment, the best advice I can give them is: stick to your guns. Decide what you want to do, and then do it. You want to have a few social ones? Cool. You’re not going to drink at all? Great. But do what you’ve decided, not what someone else has decided for you in the heat of a drunken moment. Because you’re the one who will have to live with the consequences, not your mates.
It turns out my five dollars was safe. My friend drank, and I had proven my point. He struggled to stick to his guns. A lot of the time regretted decisions don’t come from a lack of conviction, but rather from a simple lack of planning and forethought. Before you move on residence, or into your off-campus apartment and start meeting a slew of new, exciting people, have a think about what your boundaries are. How far are you going to go? What are you comfortable with? What are your priorities?
For me, people found out that I was a Christian on orientation day. I didn’t even have to make a point of telling people. Trust me, it comes out pretty fast. We were playing an ice breaker game and had to find people who fit certain categories. I was the person who could have a good time without drinking. I ended up as the name on everyone’s sheet of paper. The only one. It’s not hard to stand out as a Christian in a uni environment, but it is hard to stand strong and follow Jesus unwaveringly throughout your degree. More often than you think people will strongly encourage you to turn away, to give up. And only sometimes with their words. They’ll tell you that your standards are too high, that your way of living is outdated and ‘unrealistic in today’s world’. People can sometimes attempt to bring other people down because they feel bad about their own actions. Don’t be their scapegoat. Rather, love them and be an example.