Why I Choose not to Drink

Think about it. Animal House, Neighbors, Old School, even Monsters University all have one thing in common. They include drinking and partying as a defining element of social life in college. And to some extent, these portrayals translate accurately to reality. Looking around Michigan’s campus late on a Friday or Saturday night, you are bound to see hoards of people cramming into Ubers or walking down South U. huddled in a group on their way to a party. It appears having a vibrant social life in college and drinking are synonymous, a relationship where one cannot exist without the other.

And that’s ok!

This is not supposed to be didactic, to tell students what they can and cannot do, to establish a “right” and a “wrong” way of living. However, the intention of this is to provide the perspective of a college student who has peered briefly into the world of college drinking, and decided it just wasn’t for them. My decision to do so has nothing to do with religion, morality, or even legality. My reason for not drinking is as simple as I don’t get joy from it, but more importantly because I don’t feel like myself when drinking. As a college student who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and has no suppressed desire whatsoever to do so, here is what an average weekend day looks like for me, a snapshot into what I do while others may be drinking or fighting a hangover.

  • During the day: I allow myself to sleep in a bit until 9 or 10, then clean my room and get breakfast. During breakfast I like to catch up on my emails or read the news. I allocate a few hours in the morning for this, as I like to have some leisure time. I usually spend about two hours eating breakfast, inevitably hogging a table during the lunch rush. After getting tired of the dining hall and feeling like it’s time to do some actual work, I head over to Literati or Espresso Royale to do so. I work here throughout the afternoon, punctuating this stretch of time with some online shopping or a walk outside if it is nice. I will also call my mom during this time to catch up with her.

  • Evenings: I will meet a friend for dinner then hang out for a while after. We usually go to a vegan restaurant in Ann Arbor. A few of our favorites include Seva, The Lunchroom, and Detroit Street Filling Station. These restaurants are always a unique experience as vegan restaurants are creative with their ingredients and menus. After this, we may walk around Kerrytown and pop into some interesting stores. Some of our favorites include Dear Golden Vintage, Found, and The Getup Vintage. It is fun to look in these stores even if you don’t buy anything! Later we will typically hang out with a larger group of friends or head to the Union to study. On evenings like these, I typically get back between 11 and 12 then watch a documentary or listen to classical music to allow myself to unwind. Finally, I give myself 20 to 30 minutes to meditate before going to bed.

You may read my weekend routine and think to yourself, my god this is boring. And you’re right; this routine is not for everyone. Some people understandably would want more adventure, variability, and spontaneity than this type of weekend would entail. But for me, I find peace in these weekends, serving as a tranquil foil to hellish weekdays.

I will admit it has at times been a challenge to stick to this routine when those around me are going out, creating wild memories, and posting gregarious pictures on social media. At the beginning of college I considered throwing myself into this social scene because I felt a college experience was incomplete without it. What did you do in college if you weren’t prowling around campus in a tipsy group of friends, drunk on alcohol and each other’s company? I would answer this question saying that I found myself through listening to what it was I wanted in life and being authentic to myself. I implore all college students to do the same. If you are living your best authentic life by going out, then kudos to you for identifying this! But if living your best life includes staying in, unwinding, and going to bed by 11 like a retired grandmother?  Embrace that! The reason many of us go to college is to prepare for our futures, and I feel that a crucial but under-recognized component of this is learning who you are. College is a time to try new experiences and to understand yourself through trial and error, and to ultimately live the life you are meant to live. It is because of this that I have chosen not to drink; it is how I stay true to myself.