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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

I am turning twenty-one next week. For many people, twenty-one is an exciting birthday. You’re finally old enough to drink and gamble. Most of my friends took their first legal alcoholic beverage on their birthdays. However, twenty-one is just another birthday for me. Drinking doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t want to get drunk and lose control. After all, every alcohol addiction begins with a first sip. I’d rather avoid alcohol altogether and spend my birthday eating at one of my favorite restaurants just like I’ve done for most of my other birthdays. For anyone else who doesn’t want to drink, here are a couple of tips on how to avoid peer pressure and stand firm in your beliefs.

The most direct way of communicating your preference not to drink is simply telling your friends. Although this may be difficult, true friends should respect your decisions. Everyone has their own reasons for refraining from drinking, so you have the right to decide for yourself without others trying to pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable with, whether that’s for religious, personal, or other reasons. If you have your mind set on not drinking before your twenty-first birthday rolls around, I think you should tell your friends as soon as possible. Doing this can help you avoid peer pressure to drink ahead of time rather than your friends surprising you with a bottle of wine on your birthday and having to express your desire to stay sober right then. Going into college, I was already set on not drinking. Whenever the topic of alcohol or my twenty-first birthday is brought up, I tell my friends that I refuse to drink. I am also planning my own birthday celebration to have more control of the environment, and avoid one where alcohol is served. 

If you can, I would also suggest befriending others who don’t drink. Being in a social situation where there are others who abstain from drinking can ease peer pressure. There are a lot of house parties and even restaurants on campus that serve alcohol. Avoiding invitations to events with drinking altogether is almost impossible, but turning down the invite or agreeing to go and not drink can be more of a group decision rather than feeling uncomfortable with being the only one in a social situation drinking soda. By surrounding yourself with friends who don’t drink, you can find alternate ways of having fun such as bowling, playing miniature golf, or shopping.While college is a time to have fun by trying new things, drinking doesn’t have to be one of those things. Standing firm in my beliefs is important for me, and I encourage others who don’t want to drink to not feel ashamed to express their preferences.

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Angie Louie

UC Riverside '24