‘Why don’t you drink?,’ is a question I’ve been asked more times than I care for. Pubs and clubs are so central to adult life, so many feel like they need to drink, to be drunk in a social environments to have fun, to fit in. Why does it matter if I don’t drink or if I’ve never been drunk? I still have fun, I relax and you know what I remember all of it, I don’t need to piece together any of the night before or stay in bed the next day.
Almost 2 years after leaving University I’m ready to comment on this subject. There is one thing that has buried itself into my mind and refuses to leave without me passing commentary. Drinking and being drunk.
We were all young all lovely and immature but emerging adults. For many the drinking of alcohol proved their freedom and I am not condemning that but University was the first time I was pushed into a world where I had to explain things I never had to before. Having to sit my friends down and explain the difference between my culture and religion and their lifestyle was weird. It came to the point where I had to do 2 things. Sit my friends down and explain why I couldn’t drink or go out on late nights but I was more than happy to go for coffee whenever! This confused people and many of my friends felt themselves alienated by this, eventually those newly formed bonds evaporated into acquaintances and turned into passers by in seminars and lectures. Also I had to realise I wasn’t like those people I was trying to be friends with, in many ways, but our lifestyles and our experiences of normal and our definitions of fun were different. I realised that a lot of the people weren’t willing to acknowledge my difference in lifestyle or respect them. I realise that just because I could look past these difference everyone else couldn’t or wouldn’t.
I did what I always have done, I had fun, made jokes, played noughts and crosses in seminars, secretly ate food in lectures rooms (and felt like a rebel) and enjoyed myself with the friends who didn’t make the word alcohol synonymous with the word fun. My friendships changed because those people were unwilling to accept me or make the effort with me unless I went to the club/pub. I wasn’t missing out on anything. I had friends who had been making me laugh until my everything hurt from day one and those are the friends I chose.
For the longest time I’ve held my tongue and not said anything but now I am because it is ignorant and rude when I see tweets, graphics, Facebook statuses, movies or adverts that suggest you need alcohol to have fun. Even everyday conversation turns to drinking on a daily basis. I don’t drink, I never have.
I’m sick to my last nerve of how alcohol and the feeling that it brings has become a lifestyle to sell, something to aim for. As if one is not doing student life properly if they aren’t half out of their mind, arguing or sobbing aimlessly and not remembering what they have said the night before. As if one needs to be buzzed to be brave or to enjoy or to relax. Is this actually a goal?
I don’t get why Friday night means opening a bottle of wine and getting tipsy, I don’t understand why so many people use alcohol as an antidepressant (when it is the opposite), why so many emotions get drowned in bottles and then repeated again and again. How does a beer or glass of wine help you after work? I don’t get that. Go to the gym, go for a run, drink tea. The tipsy or drunk part doesn’t make sense to me and people seem to enjoy it a lot. I don’t question it anymore. But I am tired of being perceived as less fun because I don’t drink. You probably can’t remember all the fun I was having because you were drunk! Really, there are adults in the world who have never had a single drop of alcohol and they are getting on just fine.