Why I don’t drink alcohol, and why it’s okay to choose not to

I’m in my mid twenties and it’s almost 2019. Everyone I know finishes a hard week/day of work/university with a glass of wine or a cheeky beer. It’s also the festive season, the season of merriment which means an amount of  alcohol consumption that occurs during no other season, so I thought it was the perfect time to discuss alcohol and why it’s okay not to drink it.

Before I start, I’d like to say I have drank before, and did so for a few years,  so it’s not one of these things where you can question that I ‘don’t know what i’m missing’. I’ve been living the tee-total life for almost six years now, so I can safely say I’m pretty accustom to every line that’s ever thrown at a person who doesn’t drink. The most frequent being, “Why not?” followed by “Why don’t you just have one drink?” These phrases frustrate me like nothing else, because if someone was vegetarian, for example, you wouldn’t question their choice to not eat meat, and you definitely wouldn’t try and get them to eat some. So why is alcohol any different?

I chose to stop drinking around the time my anxiety started to get intense because I found that it triggered it. I also found it was giving me heart palpitations, and it just wasn’t really worth my time. Especially as it’s  something you’re actively paying for, for it to make you feel worse then it doesn’t really make any logical sense to carry on… I haven’t started drinking again simply because I haven’t felt any need, or reason, to do so. That’s not to say one day I won’t, but right now I’m still perfectly happy with my choice.

You do you could not be a more perfect phrase for this topic. You should never feel like you have to do something because everyone else is. I know that feeling so well though, you don’t want to be the odd one out, especially in your early twenties. When I first stopped drinking, every would ask so many questions about why, and proceed to tell me how they couldn’t possibly not drink and how horrendous it must be for me. I also got called boring on multiple occasions by the same person, and still, to this day, I’ll never get my head around how affected other people can get by a decision that has no impact on them…

On my postgrad there’s a weekly pub gathering, usually with the speakers they have in for our masterclasses, where everyone drinks and socialises together. They talk a bit more informally about the industry and everyone drinks. From day one, I didn’t feel in the slightest bit awkward. From the outset I was just honest with anyone who asked and said that I didn’t drink. Maybe it’s just a change of the times, because it’s not a change of age as most of my peers are in their early twenties, nobody really batted an eyelid. I had a few questions about if I’d ever drank or why I chose not to, but no one was trying to force me to drink, or make me feel isolated because I wasn’t. This could quite honestly be just because I’m more sure of myself now than I was before, and more confident with my own decisions, something that has definitely come with age. Whichever reason it is though, or maybe it’s a combination of both, it’s nice to be able to share something positive. I’m also not trying to say drinking is bad, or you shouldn’t do it, I’m simply sharing my own view. Whether your enjoying a cocktail or a mocktail this year, whatever your reasoning, I hope you’re having a fabulous festive season!

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