Story By Caitlin Paroczai
If somebody asked, I would say that I am a fairly normal 20-year-old WA girl. I go to university, I binge watch Netflix as much as humanly possible, I catch up with my friends and I don’t drink alcohol.
I don’t drink alcohol… at all.
You might be thinking to yourself, well that is boring. Don’t worry, I’m not offended. In fact, I have become pretty well accustomed to the judgement, unsuccessfully masked as innocent questions.
A personal favourite of mine is, “Seriously? Cool, cool… but like, what do you do for fun then?”.
Or, “Oh really? But… WHY?”.
People always want to know the WHY. So, let me enlighten you.
I have never been a big drinker. When I turned 18 and could finally hit the (internationally renowned) Perth night scene, I had not given much thought to whether I was going to drink or not. I was never pressured to drink. I did experiment with alcohol, but I never pushed the boundaries. In all honesty, I thought something was wrong with me. I looked around at the countless array of people who grabbed drink after drink and relaxed into a state of life-is-awesomeness. There is nothing wrong with those people. I wanted to be those people.
Only, I wasn’t one of those people.
While everyone else relaxed, I became tenser. While everyone else’s issues faded into oblivion, mine became more prominent. While everyone else had fun, I wanted to go home.
This was not every night out. Admittedly, I had some good times! But, this eventually became a rare occasion.
In fact, I distinctly remember the night that I chose drinking was not for me.
I had gone out with my boyfriend and after a few drinks, I had started to feel… not myself. I was not drunk by any means, but let’s just say that night was anything but fun for me.
So, here we are! It has been over a year now and I have, by personal choice, not touched alcohol. Cue the shocked sounds. You wanted to know why, so let me break it down for you:
- Anxiety – This is the big one. I would be lying if I did not say this is the #1 reason I do not drink anymore. Alcohol makes me anxious. For many people, alcohol (in moderation) can relieve symptoms of anxiety, but for me and a few friends I have spoken to, it has the opposite effect.
- I can have fun without it – Yeah. Crazy, right? Who thought you could ACTUALLY go out, interact with new people, dance and let loose without our little friend, Vodka? Trust me, I am usually the first one on the dance floor.
- Hate feeling out of control – Let’s be honest, I am a self-confessed worrywart. But that is okay, it works for me. Since not drinking, I have been able to take my car wherever I want and leave whenever I want. I’m never stuck wondering how I am going to get home!
- I actually don’t like alcohol – Why would I drink something I don’t even enjoy drinking?
I should clarify. I am not here to judge people who DO drink alcohol or deter people from alcohol in any way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. I am simply representing the minority of people who feel that alcohol + them = bleh.
However, I do feel like I should point something out.
It is your choice whether you decide to drink. I do not feel an overpowering urge to ask you why you choose to drink. So, can you respect the fact that I also have a choice not to? Before I sat down to write this, a friend even said to me… why is it socially assumed that everyone drinks?
I have been approached by people on more than one occasion who express that they feel like they HAVE to drink, or they’ll suffer the social consequences. In a society that is relentlessly attempting to promote self-love and acceptance, this creates quite the paradox.
So, in answer to your question: there is no sob story, religious explanation or severe health reason that I don’t drink alcohol.
I just don’t want to.
Judge all you want. But if you are reading this and you can relate, just remember that you are really cool. It is cool that you are not afraid to be different. It is cool that you have the ability to say no. It is cool that you are confident enough to convince people you ARE drunk with your dance moves.
I am very young. Who knows? Maybe one day I will choose to drink again.
But that will be my choice.