Alcohol comes up a lot on a college campus. People imbibe in countless different ways, for countless different reasons, but many people take it for granted that students have fun by drinking. Some people drink while underage; some wait to reach the legal limit. Some choose to never drink at all; some take a line of shots regularly every weekend. Some drink alone; others only at parties. Given that alcohol and its consumption can be viewed in a variety of ways, why is there such a strong expectation for college students to drink?
According to Everfi AlcoholEdu for College, 36% of incoming college students say they haven’t had a drink in the past year. This is a little more than one out of every three students! But many people, including myself, feel heavy pressure from friends or family to drink. People who don’t drink are sometimes given labels like “lame,” “killjoys,” or “prudish.” But someone’s choices concerning their alcohol consumption are not something that other people have a right to judge.
People’s choices about food and drink are not for others to judge.
There are countless reasons why someone may choose not to drink. Alcohol could make them sick, they could be pregant, they could dislike the taste of alcohol, they could be worried about legal consequences, they could dislike the feeling of intoxication, they are concerned for their health, their faith prohibits drinking, they could have experienced alcohol-related trauma… the list goes on and on. Or, maybe someone simply doesn’t feel like drinking.
A person who chooses not to drink does not have to share the reason why – we should respect the mature, adult choices of those around us. If someone’s choice to forego alcohol offends us, instead of mocking or trying to convince them otherwise, our time would be better spent examining why we are taking their choice personally. No one chooses to stay sober just to be better than everyone else and be a killjoy.
As long as you’re staying safe and healthy, there is no wrong way to drink, or wrong alcohol to drink.
This is not a call to participate in “Sober October,” but rather a reminder to respect someone’s decision to abstain from alcohol. Even if your friends normally enjoy a beer or two, do not take it for granted that they always do. This is a challenge to remove the stigma we have towards those who don’t drink, and allow them a judgement-free choice about what they put in their own bodies.