I figured it's time to put some more substantial writing out there that I have done, so I decided to share this article I've done for Maastricht-students.com. Not an original article for this blog but I still find it so relevant and on point so I really want this article on my personal blog as well. Here you go.
This is it. It was only a matter of time. I am prepared for the fact that nobody will agree with me, that the majority of my (overwhelmingly large) readership will find me arrogant, conservative, judgmental, and a lot of other not-so-nice things. I know that this will happen because I am dealing with it on a regular basis. But this blog post was inevitable from the start. This is the post in which I shamelessly express my repulsion towards alcohol and a society that glorifies it. A.k.a. the society we live in.
If you’re a person that goes out every single night just for the sake of getting trashed, maybe harass some girls, brag about the amount of times you’ve vomited and that you have absolutely no recollection of last night’s events, feel like there is nothing wrong with it, and you’re even proud of it, then there is a good chance that I hate you.
I always get asked this question, why don’t you drink? It is not easy to answer, especially because many people that meet me for the first time have never heard of anything like this- “What do you mean you don’t drink? Never? You never drink?”. I am comfortable with confrontation on this subject, but shockingly, I know that some people, rather than being honest about their choice not to drink, feel the need to lie and say they have to drive, or even that they have an allergy, because saying they don’t like the taste isn’t good enough an answer for many people. At this stage in my life I usually just try to keep it short and say it’s not for me. If people insist, I’ll get into it.
I never started drinking, just tried a few sips of the more innocent drinks out there but ultimately concluded, it tastes kind of gross. When I was 16 and I was given a bottle of beer and told a friend I didn’t like it, to which she responded “Yeah of course, you have to drink more, at some point you won’t notice anymore”, I decided I didn’t like this argument. I then went on my high school year in America, where the organization I went with threatened that would we get caught engaging in underage drinking, we’d be on the next flight home. I didn’t want to risk getting in trouble, so I just stayed away from it entirely. My friends in America then introduced me to punk and hardcore music, and eventually I learned about Straight Edge, an idea inevitably connected to the hardcore scene. No drugs, no alcohol, no smoking, no promiscuous sex. It all fit my situation well and for some years I took pride in wearing X’s on my hands. I no longer claim Edge, but I am still living according to its principles, inspired and forever affected by its ideology. To rebel against rebellion, which has become the mainstream. To make your own decisions, to think for yourself, to draw your own lines and limits. It’s empowering to me to make my own decisions about such a rock solid social phenomenon, and patronizing comments (my alltime favorite is „I respect that“, followed by „I really admire you, I could just never do that“) and accusations of me thinking I was better than everybody else resulted in a confidence that won’t be shattered easily.
People often criticize my choice and say that I am restricting myself by not drinking, and how do I know I don’t like it if I never tried it. If I really wanted to drink though, I would just go for it. For me, not drinking is about doing exactly what I want to do. But nowadays, it is so inconceivable for most young people not to drink, as it’s just part of being young, it’s just what you do- what else would you do on the weekend or for fun? But it is exactly this logic that makes me mad and goes against everything we are supposed to be- critical towards attitudes and things that remain unquestioned by the majority of people. And this is where for me, in addition to the taste, (and the poor, drunk creatures in the club or at house parties who don’t notice they reek of cigarettes and a mixture of alcoholic drinks, making no sense anymore whatsoever) the issue becomes one of principle. This is also why I am way past that phase of being easily influenced by other people, through peer pressure or other means, though every single person I meet still takes it as their mission to get me drunk eventually. I find it quite funny that a lot of people, mostly people I don’t know well, get very upset over my choice of not drinking, and the effort they put into trying to convince me to drink is frankly amazing. If anyone put that much effort into trying to convince someone to recycle, or donate to charity, or eat less meat, the world would be a better place. Just a hint for the future, in 26 years no one has ever been able to make the idea of drinking appealing to me, so anyone reading this… have fun wasting your time on trying to convince me.
It seems like kids nowadays aren’t aware that actually, there is a choice. You don’t have to start drinking if you are not interested. It’s not a thing you automatically sign up for when you get to a certain age. I have the conviction that it’s all psychological too. It’s about being part of something, about being social, about “loosening up”. You don’t want to be like me, standing around at parties with nothing but occasionally a plastic bottle of water in your hands, and accept the fact that these things just aren’t that fun. I would like to see what would happen if you throw a party and gave out bottles with fake alcohol.
Just to clarify, I understand the reason people get together over a beer, have a glass of wine, or go out for cocktails. Heck, if you get out of your mind drunk to compensate for the pressure you’re under, I even have understanding for that. My problem lies with the general approval that students and other young people like us participate in the consumption of mind-altering substances for fun. I think it is shameful that we live in a society where it is normal, and even expected that you drink, that that makes you one of the “cool kids”, and that you’re stuck-up, antisocial and weird if you don’t. That non-drinkers are faced with having to justify their decision, which, honestly, really isn’t that crazy at all! And that you get excluded from a large part of social life if you don’t participate in drinking.
If you don’t drink, going to parties sucks. So many friends of mine admit that going out without drinking is terrible and that they have to drink if they want to have fun on a night out.
I think it is scandalous that, in order to enjoy themselves, kids are forced into drinking activities to endure the night and to have at least a bearable time. When I say that that’s the reason I don’t really go out, a lot of people suggest me to go out anyway and if I don’t drink myself, just watch all the drunk people around me do stupid things- how hilarious would that be! However, it gets really old really quickly. Because after all, you’re still in an often enclosed darkened room with blasting music in uncomfortable shoes with nowhere to sit, surrounded by sweaty, touchy-feely people hunting for a victim for their reproductive purposes that are spilling their drinks on you as you are squeezing your way past them while at least one of your friends goes missing, one of them loses their wallet and one of them doesn’t want to run into their ex-girlfriend so they refuse to go in this particular club. I used to try really hard to have fun. I’d be the last to leave the dance floor (and actually dance), I’d always make an effort to chat to people despite the noise level and the fact that halfway through the conversation I’d realize they’re mentally on a different planet and won’t remember any of this the next day, while everyone else would just be standing outside smoking anyway. The best part of a night out would be pre-gaming at someone’s house, as soon as we’d leave to go somewhere it would all turn to s**t.
So it’s pretty much between getting over yourself, throwing overboard your convictions and what you feel most comfortable with and participate in drinking, or accept the fact that while your friends are having a good time going out, you just never will.
I stopped going out at one point. Following a conversation with a friend that also doesn’t drink, he opened my eyes to the fact that it is more important to do what you want to do, e.g. not going out but instead staying in and watching a movie on a Saturday night, even if this doesn’t correspond to what is generally accepted to be a worthy way of spending your weekend. I realized that the conventional form of going out, the standard way of enjoying one’s self- meeting up with a group of friends to go out to drink at a club on the weekend- doesn’t apply to me. And once I accepted that my early adult years will not consist of blurry memories of crazy nights out and drunken adventures, I stopped blaming myself for not having a good time at parties and started to focus on what I’d rather spend my time with instead. I’m not going to lie, I’d like to be more active on the weekends and go out to do fun stuff, just not to a bar or a nightclub. We need to find more creative ways of spending our weekends, and stop promoting the idea that alcohol defines our ability to have a good time.
I refuse to take part in a lifestyle where drinking large amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication is celebrated as “the time of your life”. I reject a culture that unconditionally accepts that the drunkest person in the room is praised and cheered on, and that being in an inebriated state is the goal, the definition of having fun and “living life to the fullest”. I repudiate the norms of a society that encourages senseless, heavy drinking. There is no glory in getting trashed.