I'm 23 and Don't Drink: and That's Okay.
SomeoneLikeYou Monday, July 18, 2016
I'm nearly 23 years old and I don't drink alcohol.
I just choose not to.
I understand why people struggle to comprehend why I don't drink. Most people my age do. Most people even a lot younger than me do. There seems like no reason why you wouldn't. I can accept that confusion, but I can't accept the shaming.
It's my choice. Not yours. And you shouldn't make me feel ashamed of it. Or embarrassed. Or outcast. Or weird. I have no problem with people who drink. I don't hate them, look down upon them, want to change them. I'm just me and just because I don't drink nothing changes that. When invasive questions on why I don't drink are asked, it's uncomfortable. That I don't should just be enough.
"You don't drink? Okay, that's fine. We'll get you a Coke instead." And we can move on like it's no big deal. Because it isn't.
But people poke and prod and make me feel like this anomaly. "You couldn't possibly not drink, can you? Why on earth would you want to do that?"
Because I have OCD. Because I've struggled for over a decade with crippling anxiety that's left me in therapy multiple times and medication and countless panic attacks. Drinking triggers my OCD. So I don't do it.
I shouldn't have to tell people all that. To make my very personal struggles the first thing people know about me when they meet me. I should just be able to say I don't drink, and leave it at that.
Maybe what's worse than having them not just accept my choice is trying to change my choice.
"oh, well ___ doesn't get you drunk quickly"
"just drink a lot of water before hand and eat. You'll be fine."
"I've never thrown up, so you should be good."
People think that in .25 seconds they can offer me a solution that will fix all my problems. That will make me normal. Like them.
They don't realize that I've lived with this for 10 years? That I've thought of every possible solution and resolution to fix this "flaw" in myself that makes me an outcast to people my own age (and above) (and below)?
It's just a let down.
I can never shake the feeling after it happens. The shame haunts me through the rest of the evening, into the night, and when I lay cocooned in my sheets in the morning. Thinking about having people drawn to me like a spectacle, trying to fix me like a broken toy.
"Hey guys, get over here! You'll never guess what I just found out. Lauren doesn't drink! Can you believe that? Let's help her, let's figure it out. Let's get her to finally have some fun"
I just want people to accept that I don't drink and treat me like every one else. Also to respect my decision enough to trust that I know what's best for my mental health. And just because I don't drink doesn't mean I don't want to go out with you. I can still be out, have a fun time, and not drink. I don't want to be treated like an outsider. Like a charity case. Like a nut job. I just want to be treated as Lauren, who doesn't drink, but that's okay: she'll just take a water instead. x
ps. this cosmo article is actually really great on the subject and worth a read.