Drinking strong alcoholic drinks, like wine, at university social occasions, should not be so normalisedverywell.com

Let me clear something up: I do drink. I drink alcohol several times a week, at pretty much every social occasion I attend. Yet I often refer to myself, and others refer to me, as someone who ‘does not drink’. There are a couple of reasons for this, neither of which are to do with my self-identification, but rather with the social ‘qualifications’ that I believe people look for in me.

Firstly, it’s about what I drink. I don’t drink wine or beer, and as these are the most common alcoholic drinks, people can’t help but notice when I don’t get sloshed at every formal. Secondly, and most importantly, it’s about how much I drink. Put simply, in student circles, I don’t drink enough to qualify as ‘someone who drinks’.

"It’s simple. A person who ‘does not drink’ is not a person who can’t have fun"

The cynical conclusion I’ve come to after two years at Cambridge is that it’s not drinking that counts – it’s getting drunk. If you don’t get drunk, you’re no fun. The fact I’ve never been drunk amazes people. I don’t like the idea of being drunk, losing control, saying things I don’t want to. In turn, the alcoholic drinks that I like are sugary, and the ‘upper limit’ of my alcohol intake is defined by when I get sick of these sweet-tasting drinks, rather than when I feel I am ‘too drunk’. Maybe this is just me, but if I drink a whole can of Coke, I feel a bit sick and definitely don’t want another one. It’s the same with a bottle of cider.

At this point, I ought to reveal the mysterious reason why I don’t drink the same types or quantities of alcohol as my associates: I do not like the taste. Yes, this is possible. I like certain alcoholic drinks (ciders and some cocktails) because they don’t taste like alcohol. Other alcoholic drinks taste to me like something that humans shouldn’t touch without rubber gloves. Each time my parents urge me to try some wine, or I drink some champagne at a wedding out of politeness, I seem to be drinking out of a car battery or a bottle of nail polish remover.


Mountain View

‘Tis the season to be sober

Next time you go on social media, watch television, or talk to friends, pay proper attention to how many ‘jokes’ you hear about alcohol – especially at Christmas time. ‘I need a drink!’ cry countless sitcom characters, ‘get me a drink! I need some alcohol!’. Everyone laughs, the crowds go wild. Will there ever come a point when the very mention of a person wanting alcohol stops being a masterful stroke of wit? It’s self-deprecating, it’s relatable, and that’s the trademark humour of our age. But I’ve seen people baffled, angry, insulted and alienated when I don’t want to drink myself into a stupor because that is not relatable. People treat it like a medical condition, to be either cured with peer pressure or quarantined with social exclusion.

It’s simple. A person who ‘does not drink’ is not a person who can’t have fun. We’re not Puritans. We want party invitations, nights out, and dirty conversations. We make perfectly good friends, partners and companions, so don’t shut us out. It’s only a drink after all

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