While growing up the thought of drinking alcohol never crossed my mind - I had no urge, need or curiosity to try it. Mainly because of my upbringing, my religion and the fact that it never entered my parents home. In fact, I don't think I had ever been around any drunk people until I started university. While I had friends who were already experimenting with alcohol, it wasn't until then that I started to witness drinking games and came into close contact with various bottles of various drinks I was previously oblivious to. I'll admit, curiosity did start to creep up on me during my first couple of months at university and I seriously thought about trying it, just to see what all the hype was about - I mean, it must be amazing the way it so heavily dominated some peoples university experiences and conversations, right? However, the more I would witness some of the effects of alcohol in the form of stumbling, falling and being helped by friends into a taxi, uncontrolled behaviour or the tales of hangovers the next morning, the more my curiosity started to fade. Of course, drinking doesn't have to lead to levels of extreme drunkenness but, time and time again, I was seeing the effects that too much alcohol was having on both males and females, and decided that it must not be worth it and that I never wanted to put myself in a position where I could get to the state of not being in total control of my actions. Don't get me wrong, I have many friends who drink on occasion, who get tipsy or who get drunk and send me humorous drunk texts and have many stories the morning after the night before. However, my decision for not drinking alcohol shifted from not drinking for religious reasons and because it was the way of my parents to not drinking because I'd made a conscious decision to not do so.
Since moving to London, I've yet to find a way to socialize and meet new people that doesn't involve drinking of some sort. Sometimes it's tiring to be the only sober person in a group of new people and it seems that socializing is made easier when slightly merry. I don't know how I managed to get through university like this. The only explanation I can think of is that my love for dancing and eagerness to make friends at university overshadowed any awkwardness I felt when in a situation where I was the only one not drinking. Now, however, I can't help but notice how much alcohol is involved in almost all social occasions. I thought it was something typical of university culture only, but it seems I was wrong and that it's something typical of society in general, albeit in slightly different ways.
I get very mixed reactions when I meet new people and tell them that I don't drink. People either don't see it as a big deal or look at me like I'm a social outcast, ask me if I'm being serious and try and get me to taste something alcoholic. I've been thinking recently about just how ingrained the idea of drinking is in our culture. From having a glass of wine with a meal to drinking to get drunk, to relax, for the buzz, the feel good factor, for some dutch courage, to lose your inhibitions or just because everyone else is drinking too. It's all so normal in our culture that someone who decides not to partake in the activity is immediately asked why. Most of the time it's out of pure curiosity - a question to keep the conversation flowing or genuine interest in finding out more about your life choices. Other times, it can feel accusatory - like there must be big reasons behind deciding to opt out of such a social activity. Few times, however, I've found that the question as to 'why' is less to do about me and more to do about the person asking - that when I give my reason I'm met with ten reasons as to why the person indulges in drinking 'well I think it's ok... I don't drink that much, just when I'm out... I drink to relax, you know?' It's almost as if, by me choosing not to drink it means I'm automatically judging those who do when, really, I don't care if you do or don't - as long as it's your conscious choice to do so.
It's interesting to think how something like a drink is heavily involved in our society. Whether you drink or not, it's enough to divide opinions and create heated debates when really, it just comes down to personal choice, and that's absolutely fine.
What are your thoughts on someone not drinking alcohol?