By Georgia Cadoret |
With lockdown rules easing and students finally able to flock towards Falmouth, the bassy tones of student parties are undeniably audible. I’d be lying if I said I’d not already passed a few colourfully lit, well inhabited terraced houses of an evening. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been tempted to burst through the doors and join in.
UK government guidelines currently state that we are permitted to host gatherings of up to 30 people on private property at a time, and who knows when favourite student haunts like Toast or Fives Below will be open for business as usual (I’ve heard Mangoes is something of a Musical Chairs get-up). Given this, it’s hardly surprising that, as a uni abundant with students of the musically talented variety and Falmouth’s invariably large student pads, us restless twenty-somethings have taken matters into our own hands.
For many, the prospect of returning to a social life that bears a semblance of normality is nothing but exciting. They will run, open-armed and with the sound of clinking beer bottles in their tote bags, towards the nearest gathering of friends with a decent sound system. You only need to look outside on a sunny day to see them flocking, streamers of pink and bleach-blonde hair in the wind as they laugh on the beach nursing Spar-bought booze. In true Gen-Z fashion, we have done a cracking job at making the best of a bad situation and, thanks to an abundance of outdoor space, the new student social life really isn’t as bleak as it might have seemed a few months ago.
There are many others, however, for whom the return of the party brings a whole load of baggage they were rather enjoying respite from during the throws of lockdown; those who might have found socialising on a larger scale something they had to endure, rather than something to look forward to. For anyone with social anxiety, limiting visible or invisible disabilities, mental health struggles or who just plain can’t be bothered with the noise and fuss of it all, socialising can be an overwhelming aspect of life they would rather not participate in.
The introvert/extrovert conversation is not a question of polarities, it is nuanced and should be treated as such.
These people are all too often labelled ‘introverts’ and therefore deemed uninteresting or boring. In a world where, as well as being encouraged to love each other despite our differences, we are actively celebrated because of them, we must be considerate of people on both sides of the story when it comes to how we prefer to socialise. There are many up sides to being pro-party, just as there are most certainly negatives, and vice-versa.
With the return of parties and social events will inevitably come the social pressure to go to them. This is felt by all, including even the most avid of partygoers. Sometimes it can be hard to respect what we might need to do for ourselves when the hype of a party is ineffably louder. In fact, socialites may find invitations to gatherings more difficult to turn down because they are more likely to be invested in the people going. The introvert/extrovert conversation is not a question of polarities, it is nuanced and should be treated as such.
Let us not forget the death of FOMO, that sweet knowledge that no one was doing anything more or less interesting than you were during the days of lockdown. But guidelines have changed, and as you’re lying on the sofa staring outside as Zac Efron’s new series buffers on Netflix, the sickly knowledge that people you know are being socially active gathers in your gut and twists until you are moved to text someone: What you up to? I know it far too well. As much as we may be dying to see our friends again, socialising could feel like an overwhelming hurdle; whether it’s anxiety about the virus or a symptom of having been alone/stuck with the same household for 4 months.
…We can’t vouch for what someone’s lockdown looked or felt like for them
No matter which party (pardon the pun) you are in, it is important to respect the feelings of those on the other side. That is to say, we must be understanding if a friend does not feel comfortable going to the pub or meeting a group of friends. This pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and we can’t vouch for what someone’s lockdown looked or felt like for them.
The same should be said for the partygoers, and all those who want to embrace their re-asserted freedom to see friends. If local guidelines allow it, then we can’t control or patrol the safety of others when someone down the road opens their doors up to a few friends on a Friday night. We’re a student town and, given the chance, people will party.
It is our natural state to crave human connection, laughter and love, and anyone who feels safe and happy to socialise within their ‘bubble’ should not be ashamed to do so.
Respect for however people chose to socially distance is integral to ensuring we are not separated by the pandemic, and that people feel comfortable, safe and considered in however we decide to re-establish ourselves socially. Personally, I’ll be making the most of a fresh pint at my nearest pub, with or without company.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Falmouth University, the University of Exeter or Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union.