There’s always an awkwardness when you refuse a beer.
It’s college. This is the point of our existence, right? This is our premier social activity.
Telling someone I don’t drink usually goes over about as well as a fart in church.
“…Oh.” I get this a lot.
“Why?” is a common question.
“Have you, like, ever had something to drink?”
“Oh, are you Mormon?” (A personal favorite.)
“Oh, girl, me neither.” Funny, I’m pretty sure I saw you passed out last week.
There’s an assumption that there are only three reasons for not drinking in college: You’re too timid, you’re religious, or you have some deep dark back story that explains everything. And for some reason, strangers (specifically 19-year-old ones) feel like you owe them an explanation. It’s demanded. And when it doesn’t come, it’s uncomfortable.
But still, there is a grace period for those souls under 21. You say you don’t drink and people let it slide, assuming you’re just mega-paranoid. But 21 is that momentous birthday we have all waited for. It’s the birthday that marks your college career.
Unless you’re me.
Yes, I have personal reasons for not drinking. Maybe I have a deep dark story in my past. But shouldn’t it be enough for me to just say, “I don’t want to?”
Mostly I don’t drink because I dislike the taste. Additionally, I’m a lightweight who gets sleepy after one sip. And I’m a control freak. I greatly dislike losing control of my faculties. Furthermore, I greatly dislike the person I am when I drink.
Which is why when my 21st rolls around next week, I will be more excited for my free Starbucks than my first “legal” drink.
Not everyone treats me like a Cyclops. My friends know I don’t drink, and they don’t give me a hard time about it. In return, I don’t give them a hard time about it either.
Just because I don’t drink doesn’t make me an uber-religious fun killing mongoloid. I sit around and watch movies while my friends mix disgusting concoctions of vodka and flavored sodas. They get drunk while watching wedding shows, and I get (relatively) left alone.
If I’m not standing in the corner judging you, why do you need to seek me out to judge me?
I don’t understand why drinking is this great bastion of college experience. I know it’s a way to flex your muscles and freedom once out from under your parents. But I just don’t get it.
I wish it wasn’t such a staple and so ingrained into our perceptions of who we have to be as young adults. I wish people would understand—there is nothing weird about not drinking!
Our society doesn’t judge people who don’t smoke or do drugs—so why is drinking such a heavy line?
I wish I could change this perception of nondrinkers. I wish that when I tell people I don’t drink, I wouldn’t get responses like, “Whoa, I would never have guessed. You’re so normal!”
So, for those of you who drink, try to keep an open mind. It is possible to have fun without alcohol. Not everyone who abstains is a Mormon or crazy or something. When someone says “I don’t drink,” just go “OK!” and move on. More beer for you.
For those of you who don’t drink—don’t make excuses. You have nothing to apologize for. Don’t be the kid in the corner with the crossed arms judging everyone. Find your own way to let loose.
So let’s find some acceptance, and work towards a world where you don’t have to drink till you puke to make friends. Puking is never cute, ladies.
(And PS: you’re all invited to my 21st pizza party).
Photo by Abbie Redmon[divider] [/divider]
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