It isn’t exactly a shocking revelation that spending five years at college changes one’s perception on certain things in life. One thing that has changed for me personally has been my stance toward drinking.
Basically, I do not drink except on extremely rare occasions and I never plan on getting drunk. Do not worry, I’m not one of those people who think alcohol is the root of society’s problems and that it’s evil. I don’t have any malice towards people who do drink; it’s just something that has never interested me, especially getting drunk.
The reason I don’t get drunk is very simple: mental clarity. I choose to stay sober because I like being fully in control of everything I do. I like to remember all the time I spend with my friends at college and not have to worry about doing anything embarrassing. The drunker one gets, the more they sacrifice clarity and control.
Of all people, singer Michael Buble said it best in an interview with CNN a few years ago, stating he did not get drunk very often because he enjoyed having complete control over himself. I never wanted to be in a situation where I was hung over and unable to remember the previous night. There is no personal control if you cannot remember your actions.
That is not a condemnation of drunkenness. Everyone has the right to have fun in any manner they wish to. I even have fun sometimes when all my friends are completely wasted and I’m not. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it. There is not a psychological reason or traumatizing event in my past that is the impetus for why I don’t get drunk, it just is something that doesn’t interest me.
Throughout high school and college, when I’ve told people that I don’t drink, there have been a variety of different reactions. The most common one was people asking me if I was religious, or if there is some deep dark family trauma. A friend of mine last year sat me down and spent 45 minutes trying to figure out exactly why I wouldn’t drink. I only said that I did not want to drink because that was the honest truth.
Plenty of people had absolutely no objections to my decision, and did not stress the issue. Others were somewhat less understanding; there was one night my sophomore year when the people I hung out with on my floor kicked me out of their party because I wouldn’t drink with them. I remember how angry and frustrated I was when that happened. I could have been invited back in if I changed my mind and drank with them, but I knew if I did that, I would not have had a good time; I would’ve had the time everyone else wanted me to have.
That brings up another issue: peer pressure. Everyone has to watch those horrible after-school specials in high school and I will do my best to make sure this column doesn’t turn into one. As I said, I have dealt with a lot of pressure from other people both in high school and at Oswego State trying to get me to get drunk with them and they’ve all failed. My desire to stay sober and retain a sense of clarity and control is more important than what everyone else thinks.
When dealing with peer pressure, you really find out who your real friends are. True friends should accept who you are and how you choose to have a good time. People who judge you or cast you out like those people from my sophomore year are not your friends. No one should be uncomfortable with being the only sober person in the room if they choose not to drink. If people drink heavily, they should not do it because they feel they need to or they will miss out on a good time. Drinking alcohol is a choice, one that should not be taken lightly. No one should ever feel like that choice has been taken away from them.
My stance on getting drunk has not changed since I’ve been in college, but like I said at the beginning, my stance on drinking at all has changed. I’ve been to bars. I usually have a glass of wine or champagne on holidays with my family. The point is, I choose to drink on rare occasions; it is my decision and mine alone. I personally do not see the fun in getting drunk, but a lot of people do, and that is perfectly fine. The moral of the story is college can be an incredibly fun and enjoyable life experience; so it would be a shame if that enjoyment wasn’t had on your own terms.