Lifestyles

Figuring Out Life as a College Student who Doesn’t Drink

A Snapshot of Navigating Peer Pressure and Bias

By Matt McKenna

When you’re trying to figure out what your interests are and trying new things, one topic comes into play: drinking.

Some people drink rarely, some often, some would rather drink with friends or family, at events, and there are those that don’t drink.

Those who don’t drink are usually the ones questioned or pressured to have their first taste of alcohol.

I am one of those people.

I’m often questioned why I choose to do so. When they ask me, I say, “Does first communion count?” They get curious and either leave me alone or offer me a sip to see how I react. This never gets old.

My responses are usually “I’m not of age yet” or “I’m waiting until I can go to Ireland and have my first drink of Guinness at the Guinness Factory. I want my first drink to come from my nationality.”

Another reason is that I’m afraid that if I do have my first drink, I will never stop and become an alcoholic.

You don’t have full control of yourself and it damages your insides. Unfortunately, I’ve heard stories of my grandfather, who died before I was born, who’d get violent after he drank.

The stories you hear about alcoholics on the news, from celebrities, or scenes that you see in movies and television of those who drink heavily scares me.

The many people that offered were either my friends, family, or people that I just met at a party. Often that drink would be O’Doul’s, which is a non alcoholic beer, or wine, but that’s rare.

Even my mom allowed me to have a sip of beer or wine if we had it in the house but I would choose not to.

When I was in England, I kept thinking about having a glass of wine or pint of beer but I still chose not to drink.

Now that I am in college, I feel like there is a requirement for me to drink and the pressure has gone up.

Anytime I’m invited to a party with my friends or hang out at a restaurant, my friends will always have drinks. I feel like that meme of a baby holding his sippy cup as if he was making a toast and on the picture it says “When you’re the last one in your squad to turn 21.”

The effect that media has on people around my age has a big influence on how we drink.

“Yes, media has its influence on drinking in college because they make them coincide”, said Emely Aparicio, a junior.

When I see movies like “Animal House,” “American Pie,” or “Superbad.” all of them feature teenagers and young adults drinking heavily.

I understand that these are just movies, but they overdo it.

Drinking socially is another thing.  Often when I see images of friends online, they are having fun with a group of people and are holding a bottle or can.

Sometimes I feel that because drinking is somewhat of a social activity and one can meet new people that way, I should start drinking so that I can hang out with more people.

That’s probably why I’m never really invited to hang out with people or to parties because I choose not to drink.

My mother always says, “If you were to have a drink, have only enough where you are still in control of yourself and can make it home safely. Even if you don’t drink any alcohol at a party, keep an eye on your cup or food because some people might want to slip something.”

I never shared that information with anyone but I bet most parents say the same thing about being cautious.

So if I were to start drinking by either being pressured or to have fun, I must regulate myself, as everyone says.

And if I choose not to, than I guess I’ll have a healthy life but still have people trying to get me to have my first drink.

Either way, it’s a win or lose situation.

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