Everyone loves a good guilty pleasure.
And from one night stands to one too many shots of vodka, Isla Vista is guilty pleasure central. Sure, we complain about being misunderstood and it’s true that I.V. is a multifaceted municipality with plenty to offer besides its world-renowned party scene. But debates about the effect I.V.’s reputation will have on our future job prospects aside, it is a commonly accepted fact that I.V. is a town largely focused on its party scene.
Opportunities to indulge in guilty pleasures are more prevalent here than those red plastic cups that seem to pop up at every party. From watching The Hills instead of studying to watching your waistline balloon because of one too many trips to Freebirds, everyone has a guilty pleasure and a sob story about the havoc their little indulgence has wreaked on their productivity or personal life. There’s a reason we feel guilty when we indulge in our guilty pleasures — hence the term.
I’m sure that’s part of the fun of it. As anyone with Psychology 101 under their belt will tell you, people like to do things that feel deviant. And, as any girl with a “bad boy” or two under her belt — literally or figuratively — will tell you, sometimes, the badder it seems, the better it feels. When it comes down to it, guilty pleasures often feel so good precisely because they are so bad.
So, what’s an I.V. resident with plenty of opportunities to indulge their wickedest whims to do? It’s unrealistic to think people are going to stop screwing around because of the possibility of STDs, just as it’s silly to assume the prospect of watching your perfect abs turn into a puffed-up pooch is going to convince anyone to put down that Pabst and bow out of beer pong. Plus, guiltiness aside, guilty pleasures are just so downright … pleasurable. Why would you want to give that up?
Now, I’m just a third-year student here at the University of Casual Sex and Beer and when it comes to giving in to guilty pleasures, I’ve already made more than a few mistakes I regret. From sleeping with the wrong people to consuming copious amounts of booze — two activities that are unfortunately all-too-closely related all-too-often — I’m not immune to indulging in the “badder is better” way of thinking myself. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned during my time here at UCSB, it’s how to have my proverbially pleasurable cake and eat it too — without suffering consequences much worse than an extra hour or two at the gym.
My philosophy on guilty pleasures is simple. It basically boils down to making sure my indulgences are always tempered with a healthy knowledge of their consequences. I’m not going to skip sex out of fear of STDs, but I am going to make sure my partner is someone I know and trust. And I’m going to make sure I take advantage of the fact that Student Health offers six condoms for a dollar. I’m not going to avoid alcohol because I know I might have a hangover in the morning. But I am going to make sure I space out my shots, drink plenty of water, and maintain my ability to take care of myself.
There is no doubt in my mind that living in I.V. has forced me to really learn how to enjoy my guilty pleasures without letting them get out of hand. I still love a good drink and a bad boy, but after three years here, I know how to enjoy them without endangering myself, my priorities, or my productivity.
When it comes down to it, isn’t that what college is all about anyway? Ultimately, I think knowing how to balance doing what feels good with doing what feels right is probably the most important thing I’ve learned in my time at UCSB. Well, that and how to get my work done without giving up watching my favorite trashy TV shows.