Going Out On A Friday Night Can Be Depressing

I like getting ready to go out more than I actually like to go out. I enjoy the ritual. It’s almost relaxing, like the calm before the storm. Doing yourself up only to tear yourself down later in the night.

I was invited to a house party in Williamsburg last Friday night by a good friend of mine and I actually decided to go. Normally I would’ve declined and said, “I’m sorry. I have a date with my incense burner.” but I’ve been feeling pretty low lately and whenever I’m in an emotional funk, I promise myself that I’ll say yes to every invitation offered to me. I’ll go to house parties, bars, openings, whatever. I do this because I have this misguided hope that I’ll maybe have the best night of my life and feel okay again. Maybe I’ll make out with someone who smells like whiskey on a couch in a room full of people, or maybe I’ll just find a new friend and have an amazing conversation over some lukewarm drinks. Whatever. The point is that it could change my life in some small way and I have to remind myself that it’s important to be an active participant rather than a casual observer. So, yes, I’ll go to the stupid house party with you on North 7th and Berry. Why not? It might save my life!

To get ready, I put on a playlist called “dance y’know like whatever” and sipped gingerly from a glass of wine. I changed outfits probably six times, assessing which outfit made my body look most desirable, and ran wax through my hair to sweep it back. “Your hair looks better when it’s swept back.” I decided that I wanted to look dirty so I settled on wearing a filthy Sonic Youth t shirt, Doc Martens, black jeans, and a black hoodie. I’m pretty sure I just looked sloppy instead of “dirty alternative gay” but I didn’t have time to change into another outfit. I left without finishing my wine.

I walked to the L train on 1st Avenue and found myself, as per usual, surrounded by annoying drunk people on a Friday night. Ever have trouble quitting alcohol? Just go to downtown Manhattan on a weekend night and you’ll lose the desire to drink again. Consider it the new kind of AA. Everyone behaves like animals, except worse because they’re in unflattering outfits and you can see some of yourself in them. We’ve all been that annoying drunk person in the Lower East Side eating pizza at 4am but seeing it reflected back to you when you’re sober is the ultimate reality check.

When I got on the subway, I looked at all of the young, attractive people on the train and suddenly became overwhelmed with the sense that this was THE snapshot of my young adult life: Traveling to Bedford on a Friday night to some unknown party while being surrounded by people who look and act just like me. I don’t know why but the mere thought of this knocked the wind out of me. Is this all there is to being young? Changing outfits, putting on the right playlist, traveling to the same neighborhood for the possibility of finding something worthwhile? No, this can’t be it. There has to be something more, something I’m not quite seeing.

I waited for my friend for twenty minutes on the corner of North 7h and Berry and watched all of the wasted Swedish models with androgynous haircuts and American hipsters pass me by. I was having one of those moments when you know you’re being over emotional and ridiculous. You’re trying to find significance in meaningless things. “That crack in the sidewalk is like a symbol of my wasted youth. That pizza is a symbol of my broken dreams.” But it’s real! Sometimes you just got to go there and be That Guy Who Is Having An Existential Crisis On The L Train. You have to see everything in muted colors in order to recognize brightness again.

In any event, I went to the party and it didn’t change my life. I sat on a couch in the living room of some stranger’s apartment and listened to bad remixes while catching up with my friend. There was no new best friend, no whiskey make outs. Just another weird house party where you don’t know anyone so you just cling to the one person you do know. Afterwards, I ate ice cream on a bench and took a cab home.

You always wake up feeling foolish the next day. Why did you feel so sad last night? Why did you even go to that party? But by the time the sun goes down, you’ll stop asking yourself these questions and be ready to do it all over again. You’ll always be ready to do it all over again. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Anonymous

    I laughed out loud at this moment: “You’re trying to find significance in meaningless things. ‘That crack in the sidewalk is like a symbol of my wasted youth. That pizza is a symbol of my broken dreams.’ But it’s real!” 
    I once made the connection between a losing Bingo card & my inability to get a full-time job. Low point. 

    • Scottie

      “This melty ice cream cone is like how he melted my heart before he left me for a girl!”

  • Sagar Dubey

    *hug*

  • Bridget

    aww Ryan I bet you were the cutest thing in your filthy Sonic Youth t shirt, Doc Martens, black jeans, and black hoodie. If you liked girls I’d be all over that.

  • ANG

    I like this line: “You have to see everything in muted colors in order to recognize brightness again.”

    I can totally relate to this, and find that from many failed nights of going to strangers’ houses I much prefer staying in my crib as a pessimistic home-y fourth year uni student.

    Plus, it makes those nights where I do decide to dress up, click on my “get sloshed” playlist, and go through 20 outfit changes, much much more worth it and special.

  • kas

    To make the house party worse, they were playing Friday the song …

  • http://twitter.com/aliciaacastro Alicia Alaffa

    Friday Night Ritual just commenced for me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ctrumonster caitlin stewart

    “ohh but i need sorrow baby like sorrow is the drug”
    this friday night i am manically cooking peppers and root vegetable alone in someone else’s apartment while listening to the saddest bat for lashes record.  the ice cream was best part, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Juliette

    This was a really moving article. I’ve grown up in lower manhattan and seen this my whole life, but the moment when you said “Is this all there is to being young?” REALLY hit me. Great article! Remarkably poignant.

  • HAL3000 ((o))

    I thought this was probably one of your most well-done pieces. It lacks the little bit of repetitive Ryan we often get and maybe that sets it apart. Loved the ending, so true.

  • Na

    Wow, perfect timing. I’ve been thinking about this so much lately.

  • EP

    So…can we have that playlist?

    • EP

      No, but seriously. I’m curious.

  • Guest

    do i spot a…. mean girls reference?  “Your hair looks better when it’s swept back.” “your hair looks sexy pushed back”

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    “No, this can’t be it. There has to be something more, something I’m not quite seeing.”
    Sometimes I wonder if there really is nothing more. But we have to have hope!
    I really do feel foolish the day after going out though.. Good thing it’s not just me.

  • Ceqli

    Ryan, your existential moment isnoted – and there is an answer: you’re looking for answers that other people cannot and will not give you. No matter how many friends you make, you’re still you at e end of the dya. So use that brain of yours and think: what did i expect out of my weekend? What was i looking for out of my mr. Right? If you can answer that question, then you will transcend this mundane existence – you will have found what you were looking for.

  • Ace

    Why don’t you just be pro-active and take control of your situation, rather than expect things to come around. For instance, why don’t you throw your own party and dictate the guest list, music, atmosphere, tailored to your preferences. Potentially, others feel the same way that you do about the lameness of your party scene, so if you talk to one or two of your friends about changing the culture, hopefully, they will play along and inspire other people to get on board, which will all eventually lead towards that Ultimate Dance Party / hook up central that you so much desire. 

  • MClift

    Those thoughts come to me quite a bit, too. I’m about to hang out with a friend and I find myself very excited, but then I start thinking that I’m in my mid twenties and I have absolute freedom to live my life whichever way I want. Then comes the negative thoughts of whether this is all there is. Another hang out full of booze? If this is the supposed “best time of my life,” why is it suddenly feeling so monotonous?

    What helps me is telling myself to take it easy. That I have it easier than most people and should just be grateful. If there is something missing, then I should become proactive, ask myself what goal do I have that I am currently not working towards, and well, work towards it.

    Ryan, I have been reading your stuff quite a bit and (forgive me for being soooo presumptuous) but you seem to have a good life. You live in New York City, you’re writing for a living, and seem to be surrounded by good people. That seems like a sweet deal. So take it easy.

  • http://twitter.com/DaniKish Danielle

    I don’t know why but your posts are always so relevant to my life. I’ve been going through these little “what is the meaning of my life? what am i doing at this party? Is this what being twenty going on twenty-one supposed to be?? this is stupidityyyy, I need new friendsssss” moments lately. I’m convinced house parties will always just link me back to high school, and then I feel stuck.

    • Na

      Holy crap, you are me and I am you.

  • Charlie.

    I’m feeling down lately too, and I just declined an invitation to a party tonight. I’ve been regretting it cause I’m just sitting here feeling more and more depressed and listening to sad music as the night goes by, thinking maybe I should have accepted it and gone out instead.

    But this article of yours reminds me exactly of my previous experience and how going to a party will not save my life. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Ryan, the only perks to your articles are the endings. Beautiful

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1340700283 Katherine Elizabeth

    some of the people on here are douches. i enjoy this article very much. 

  • Stupidkardasian

    You have like these epiphanies where your articles actually sounds good and reflective.  And time where they’re just plain stupid, like the Kardashian one.  Keep things like this going.

  • RS

    Mean girls reference. Your hair looks sexy pushed back. Anyway, I can relate! Feeling this way right now!

  • http://puzzlingcreativity.blogspot.com/ puzzlingcreativity

    This article really hits home. How does one with loneliness in a world where everyone is preoccupied with looking like they’re not lonely when they really are? I’m probably just rambling. I know that kind of romantic hope that you’ll meet a kindred spirit out there and that crushing feeling when it doesn’t happen. How is it that we can be surrounded by so many people but feel no sense of gravity toward anyone around us? 

    • Guest

      the quest for true love and true friendship rambles on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacki-Isett/746225429 Jacki Isett

    Ryan, I like having dates with my incense burner right as I’m getting ready/taking a shot of tequila. I also enjoy “doing myself up” because it’s fun, not because I want to get laid (and other girls always seem to appreciate it or dig my earrings/dress/blah blah blah). Most of the time though parties are really fun if you’re with your frands but sometimes they still suck so you create yer OWN party—try going out SOBER on a Friday night. Let me tell you, it is a WILD time watching people make themselves look like complete asshats.

    • Jo

      I think you missed the point of the article

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacki-Isett/746225429 Jacki Isett

        I’m being sarcastic. Oy vey!

  • AJ

    This is one of your better articles, really great Ryan

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