Contrary to popular belief, there is no universal university experience. Mine can be considered a bit more different than most, as I don’t drink alcohol. I’ve never felt the urge to and I don’t see the point in drinking simply because it’s the norm when it’s not exactly good for me. Coincidentally, I much rather prefer a night in over a night out, although I should mention that I don’t mind being around drunk people as long as they’re okay with my sober self. To have a university experience which differs from the stereotypical view has taught me that you don’t need to live up to people’s expectations in order to be happy. In fact, trying to do so might leave you feeling unfulfilled. By sharing my own experiences, my wish is therefore to encourage you to choose your own path over the ones of others.
When I was younger, not all of my friends understood that when it came to alcohol, it wasn’t a matter of when for me, it was a matter of if. Despite respecting my decision not to drink, some of my friends would therefore make me feel pressured to do so. Since then I’ve realised that this sort of contradictory behaviour is far from uncommon. Most often, people tend to tell me that they’re impressed by me not drinking until they find out that I’ve never even tried alcohol. I do agree that going from drinking to never doing it again poses a bigger challenge, but I don’t see the logic in going from complimenting me to implying that I’m a bore in a matter of minutes. If anything, it shows just how hard it is to please everyone, and I would therefore suggest that you try to please only yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, being different isn’t always easy. Although I’m happy with my decision not to drink, it’s a fact about myself that I find rather scary to share. Out of all the reactions that people have had to my decision over the years, some hurt more than others. I wasn’t particularly bothered, nor was I thrilled, when the person in charge of my group during a pub crawl came up to me to tell me that he was surprised I had stayed throughout the whole crawl (pro tip: pub crawls are (most often) free if you don’t drink), neither was I too upset when a friend of a friend told me that he took personal offence at me not drinking. What does hurt though is feeling even the slightest bit of judgement from someone you’re trying to get to know and that you want to like you. If that turns out to be more than a fleeting feeling, I ask myself if someone who makes me feel bad about being myself is someone I’d like to have around. The answer is always no.
Some might say that you can’t have a complete uni experience without alcohol, but I wouldn’t want my experience to be any other way. I’m surrounded by people who accept me for who I am, who constantly make me laugh until my cheeks hurt, and who know just how to comfort me when I’m sad. They don’t like me less for not drinking alcohol, and I personally don’t think that any real friend would. I hope that you find that the same is true for you.