Blame it

I am nineteen years old. I live in Sydney. And I’ve never gotten drunk. I must be a national horror. Laugh at me all you want. I don’t see my drunk status, or lack thereof, as a bad thing.

Let’s start this post off with a little story:

I was sat in one of my law seminars at university. We were discussing the corporate ethics of McDonald’s. In doing so, we found ourselves looking at the nutritional content of the products Mcdonald’s sells.

I was quite shocked to see just what goes into making the so dearly loved nuggets. Obviously I knew they are terrible for you, have no nutritional value whatsoever, and do more damage than good. But I was surprised.

This sparked the query from a classmate nearby, who asked if I ate McDonald’s. To this, I responded with a no. I don’t eat McDonald’s. I could. But I see no point. As a vegetarian, the only things available to me on the menu are breakfast items, fries, “salad” or their drinks. Given those options, I’d rather spend more and actually go to a decent establishment to get myself something to eat.

I think I already knew where this conversation was headed. My decision to not eat Mcdonald’s was met with shock, and the question:

But what do you eat when you’re drunk?

To that, I responded quite simply that I’ve never needed to indulge in shit because I’ve been so drunk. And again, I was met with disbelief. And the snarky comment:

“Wow. You need better friends if you don’t get drunk. Don’t your friends peer pressure you?”

Australians are known as laid back, easy going, fun loving individuals. We’re sadly also known as a country and community that drinks excessively and requires alcohol to have a good time.

I’m no prude. I drink. But I’ve never gotten drunk.

To be completely honest, I had my first glass well before 18 – our legal drinking age. At 16, I was allowed to enjoy the occasional glass if the social situation permitted. Like my paternal grandfather brought my dad and uncle up, my dad brought me up with an understanding of alcohol. He would tell me when I was younger, that if I wanted to try an alcohol type, to come to him and we’d enjoy it together. Through this, I developed my palette and love for Cabernet Sauvignon and single malt whiskey.

My dad didn’t instil alcoholism in me, nor is he an alcoholic (I feel the need to clarify this)

Now, as an adult, I know my taste in alcohol. And I know how to enjoy and respect alcohol as a drink to enjoy in moderation and with good company.

So yes. I’ve never gotten drunk. But I do drink.

Why is this looked down upon, especially for people in my generation?

Yes, I understand it isn’t the norm. But I don’t feel the need to abuse a quality bottle of wine or drink copious amounts of alcohol so I wake up the next day with a splitting headache, regret and woozy memories plus the fear of my drunk self doing something strange.

I’ve been asked how I have fun if I don’t get drunk. At parties, people will try and force me to consume more than what I want. My standard is that if I’m at a house party and I don’t see ciders, I won’t drink. Beer makes me ill. I’ll pass on shots and I prefer vodka in cocktails. What infuriates me is that I have to defend my case like a criminal in court, resort to holding a bottle of beer/cruisers/whatever to make it look like I’m consuming triple my body mass in alcohol, or say that I’m designated driver. Only then do people back the hell off.

Since when did saying no to a drink make one weak or inferior?

I don’t regret ever waking up feeling great after a night out. I don’t regret actually being able to enjoy my saturday and sunday mornings without the need for fried food, coffee and pain killers. My bank account has never been happier because all the money I’ve earned so far can go to something useful that I know will accrue benefits in the long run instead of the bar which I won’t remember. I love that I can have two or three cocktails throughout a night, or indulge in two glasses of wine over a beautiful evening and feel satisfied with that.

Everyday, 15 people die and 430 are hospitalised for dangerous consumption, accidents and other mishaps caused by drinking excessively.

I think it’s disgusting that we’re proud of how drunk we can get. I think it’s disgusting that being plastered weekly, having no recollection of where you were or how you got home or what you did, is something we wear like badges of honour. Since when did having fun and having a good time with your mates mean harming yourself and the others around you?

I know I speak as a major minority. But I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. I love being around my friends and actually remembering what I did with them. By no means do I stop my friends from drinking. I just hope they respect my decision to either not drink, or stop after one.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people are threatened by my decision to limit or abstain from drinking on nights out. They don’t understand that at a bar, I’ll order a gin and tonic, enjoy my gin and tonic, and then proceed to enjoy the rest of my night sans alcohol in my hand. It’s become perception that parties, bars, pubs and clubs are venues to support copious amounts of drinking without the judgement. That’s perfectly fine. If you want to let loose, go for it. But imposing on others is where the line is drawn.

Leering at people who order virgin drinks at bars and clubs is wrong. As bartenders, think about the fact that you’re still making money.

Forcing someone to have a drink is a violation of consent. Just like we should respect consent when it comes to sex, consent and backing off if an individual says no to a drink is as important. No one needs to say no more than once without feeling like they have to protect themselves.

Why can’t choosing not to have a drink or stopping at one drink be like choosing not to smoke or drink coffee? We don’t bat an eyelash when people make choices like that. So why is limiting alcohol intake so confronting?

I shouldn’t have to explain my choices. I shouldn’t have to tell someone to back off if they pressure me into drinking more than I’ve already had.

At the end of the day, it’s my decision. Just like you’re choosing to get plastered, I’m choosing to stay sober.

Why can’t society learn to accept that alcohol can be consumed for enjoyment as well? Since when did savouring alcohol turn into such a sin?

Food for thought, but isn’t it time we stopped defending getting shitfaced as innocent entertainment, and started looking beyond drinks as a means to have fun? After all, alcohol is still a drug.

Call me whatever you want. I like my drinks. I also like my sobriety. Peer pressure will only make me annoyed because you’re violating consent and you’re being a nuisance. And the next morning, while you’re either in hospital or passed out under a sofa, I’ll be up and ready to tackle the day.

Who’s loss is it really?

It isn’t mine.

xx Simran



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