Yes, you read the title right. You’re probably feeling a bit baffled, shocked, or even confused by it―I get that a lot. When people discover I don’t drink, they typically hit me with responses like, “oh, I know some other people who don’t drink either,” or, “maybe you need to drink more or try these drinks to like it,” and of course, the classic response of “why?”
I’ve received every type of response there is, but it usually takes a while for people to accept the fact that I don’t drink. There’s honestly a whole plethora of reasons why I have made this decision, but just in case you are curious, let me explain a bit.
Growing up, I was never one of those people who looked forward to my 21st birthday (even though that date is such a big rite of passage to adulthood and all that), and it’s because I never had an interest in drinking alcohol to begin with. I guess you could say it came from the fact that I was raised in a very “clean” and conservative household. I rarely ever saw my parents drink when I was little, and if I did, it was pretty minimal―with one drink at the most. Just to give you a better picture of how minimal, I’ve only ever seen my mom drink once or twice in my entire lifetime (no joke). It just wasn’t something my parents ever did much of.
Apart from the way I grew up, I’m not a huge fan of the taste of alcohol and what it does either. Something about losing control of my body is terrifying to me, and I’ve never been able to get past the overwhelmingly bitter flavor of it. I hate to admit this as well, but I also have IBS, which is a whole other story, but in short, even if I did want to drink alcohol, it probably wouldn’t be wise of me to do so.
All in all, I never found alcohol to be fun for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried sips of drinks here and there, but I could never get myself to fully enjoy it. I don’t know what it is about it, but drinking just doesn’t feel like me if you know what I mean.
While I have my reasons for abstaining, it definitely hasn’t been an easy journey. If anything, it’s still something I’m actively working on fully accepting. Even though I make it look easy on the outside, it’s more difficult than I let on.
My choice has been accompanied by moments of loneliness, peer pressure, judgment, and harsh self-criticism. I often find myself feeling alone in that there are not many people like me, or thinking about how much easier life would be if I did drink. No more dealing with the looks of judgment or the peer pressure and no more self-criticism, where my thoughts are constantly invaded by feeling bad about being different.
And the typical verbal responses I mentioned earlier? They often make me feel like my statement is being undermined or mollified. When I say I don’t like something particular like ketchup, for example, I usually receive responses of agreement or understanding. But when I say I don’t drink alcohol, people almost always respond in the opposite manner. It’s honestly bizarre how stark the contrast is between the way people react to these types of statements. It’s almost as if they refuse to accept that I don’t drink or it’s wrong of me to not drink.
But, despite all of these challenges, I would still choose to not drink. Yes, life would be easier if I did drink, but I also know myself enough to understand that I shouldn’t have to change myself just to fit in with the people around me. If I did that, then what would that say about me? Thankfully, my friends are super accepting of the fact that I don’t drink because I know there would be some people out there who wouldn’t be ok with it.
Now, I want to be clear: in no way shape, or form do I look down on or judge anyone who drinks. I don’t see myself as being better than others either because of my preference. Everyone has their own idea of fun, and for me, it’s just not something I enjoy. And since you’ve made it this far: do me a favor and please do this one thing for me. Try going to a party completely sober one night while everyone around you is mad deep in their drinks. Now that is truly an experience.