Why alcohol isn’t my drink of choice

Graphic by Jessi Wood

 

I didn’t really begin opening up and letting my true personality show until I reached the end of high school.

It’s perfectly okay being quiet and shy, but this started to gradually change when I surrounded myself with more people and slowly came out of my shell. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this by itself, since having more connections and friendships is something that I’ve wanted for a long time. But there is one problem with entering university that has always made me a bit uncomfortable – my peers really like to go out and drink. 

I’m still quite a reserved person, I just find it a lot easier to relax than I did before. I’m also really not much of a drinker – my one night stand with too much Blue Curaçao when I was 17 was enough to turn me off it completely.

This is honestly fine with me, as I’ve never really enjoyed the taste of most alcohol anyway. I also have a medical condition that makes the consumption of excess amounts of it seriously dangerous for my health. It becomes a problem, though, when this appears to be an antisocial choice to others – and it’s certainly made for more than a few awkward conversations. 

When people find out I don’t really like drinking, I get a mixed amount of reactions. Usually a baffled expression, a cocked head and an amused look, as if they’re wondering what kind of joke I’m telling. Most don’t know the reasons behind my choice, as there are more than a few, but it’s more complicated than many perceive it to be. 

I merely wish for the same amount of respect and understanding when I decline the alcohol menu at a restaurant, or choose my usual Diet Coke when I’m at a club or bar. I’m not out to spoil anyone’s fun, I’m simply standing by what I know is best for me.

As someone with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune digestive disorder, alcohol can wreak havoc on my body. If I’m not careful, it can put me in the hospital. I don’t avoid it simply because I’m trying to steer clear of a good time, because I would love to just let loose once in awhile and have some unhindered fun. Since it’s something I can’t avoid, I worry about becoming a figure of mockery or derision, especially around new acquaintances. 

There’s a staggering amount of humour and judgment I come across when I have to mention this arbitrary fact about myself. From students who like going out and getting drunk, to adults reminiscing about their hazy college days, I can already hear the tired out statement, “Are you even a real university student if you don’t like drinking?” 

I hold absolutely no judgment against people that partake in drinking. My girlfriend is a self-proclaimed wine lover and she’s far more likely than I am to be nursing a beer at a party. Although this factor of my relationship has been pointed out like a purposed flaw in my masculinity, I’m perfectly content being the one who holds her up for keg stands.

Many of my friends enjoy knocking back shots of tequila like they’re water, while I hold out the lemon slices and salt for them. I sip my plastic cup of water contentedly, waiting for the Snapchat stories I know they’ll all regret by the morning.

I have no moral superiority or any sort of high ground because of my drinking choices. I completely understand why people enjoy it and as long as they’re not posing any harm to themselves or others, I don’t have any qualms about what someone chooses to do on a night out. 

I merely wish for the same amount of respect and understanding when I decline the alcohol menu at a restaurant, or choose my usual Diet Coke when I’m at a club or bar. I’m not out to spoil anyone’s fun, I’m simply standing by what I know is best for me.

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