University for the non-drinker
At university, there are many opportunities for going out and to have fun nights amongst friends. Many of these nights are ones during which you and your friends will consume more or fewer amounts of alcohol. And that’s ok. It’s part of the university experience and an easy way to loosen up around people you may not know well. But, what if you are someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, like me? This is something I have struggled with for quite some time and was one of my biggest worries before coming to university. I thought it would stand in the way of socialising and cause people to judge me, like was often the case in high school. But, I couldn’t have been more wrong and the reaction I got from people when I told them I don’t drink was very different from what I expected. Below are a few scenarios in which I was confronted with the fact that I don’t drink and I describe how I handled them, what I learned and how it helped me become more confident.
- The dreaded question: “Oh really, why not?”
This question is a very logical one to follow after I tell someone I don’t drink. It is one I expect and one I have rehearsed an answer to. So, here it goes! “I don’t drink simply because I don’t enjoy it. It doesn’t make me feel good and I’ve learned that I don’t need it to have a good time. I also do a lot of sports so it’s important to me to stay healthy.” I was so surprised to see how many people accept this explanation and actually find it very interesting and ask me more about it. There are of course the occasional people who don’t really understand or even disagree but I’ve simply learned to trust that this is a personal choice I made a long time ago that I am not going to deviate from because of someone else’s opinion. But, truth be told, this can be hard – which I guess is why they call it “peer pressure”.
- The idea that because I don’t drink, I’m also no fun on a night out
This is a misconception that is formed very quickly and you can’t really do much about. The trouble with it is that it couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually really enjoy going clubbing, dancing and socialising. A lot of drinking happens before the actual clubbing of course, but even that turned out to work out fine, granted the company is good. I actually pre-drink with my flatmates a lot before going out and I always enjoy it. So, not drinking definitely didn’t get in my way in that respect. If anything, it helps me save money, ensures I remember everything that happens and in the worst case, wake up tired the next morning. As for the misconception, once people see me have fun on a night out, any thoughts they might have had will have been changed.
- Being around drunk people can sometimes be difficult when sober
When everyone around you is drunk and you’re the only one who isn’t, things can sometimes get a little frustrating. Not only do conversations stop making sense, drunk people tend to forget their sense of responsibility to the group which means you can suddenly find yourself alone on the dance floor! The other thing is that when people drink too much and they become unwell, things can become very uncomfortable. I personally have an extreme phobia of vomit, which doesn’t make being around very drunk people any easier. I still struggle with it today but have learned to see it coming and also not feel obliged to take care of the person in question (to a reasonable extent of course).
The main thing I’ve learned from all of this is that it is my choice and I need to respect it before others can. In order for me to be happy and have a good time, I need to feel comfortable and if not drinking does that for me, for whatever reason, then I will stick to that. Of course, socialising is important to me and I don’t want people to think I’m anti-social or “no fun” but instead of giving in to that fear by drinking, I simply show even more of my true self, whenever I can. And ultimately, the people I want to be with and enjoy a good time with are the ones who recognise and accept this part of me and don’t treat me any differently because of it.
I know I say this at the end of every post, but this one is a little different, because the topic is so close to my heart and because I have found it so hard to handle myself. So, please, feel free to ask me any questions you might have. If it is a more personal question and you don’t want everyone to be able to read it, do just contact me privately and I would be more than happy to help in any way that I can.