I actually started writing this blog post over a year ago, after I spent an awkward evening out with a relative who couldn’t accept that I didn’t drink alcohol. He was convinced that I simply didn’t know what I was missing, and that I couldn’t be enjoying my life without at least a little tipple.
It surprised me a bit, not just because I’d not expected it from this particular person, but because I’d not experienced an attitude like this for a few years. I’m pleased to say that peer pressure to drink alcohol has faded quite rapidly since I entered my thirties. Perhaps it’s because my friends are also older and have put their student party lifestyle behind them, or maybe because by now, people have finally realized that they’re barking up the wrong tree. They’re wasting their effort trying to convince me to start drinking.
When people do ask though, it seems that I am obliged to justify myself. I can’t simply decline to drink alcohol. An explanation is always requested, if not demanded, and to be honest, it always makes me feel a little awkward. I generally try to fob it off, but in reality, I have several reasons to not drink alcohol, and I’m writing this post to finally just get them off my chest.
So, here it goes:
Ever since I was quite young, I’ve valued my mind and my ability to think with a clear head as my single greatest asset. Not because I consider myself some sort of genius, but because my mind is who I am. I am my thoughts much more than I am my body, and as such, I’ve no desire to consume any form of drug that could manipulate my mind or impair my ability to think clearly.
Watch anyone taste alcohol for the first time, and their face will clearly tell you that their body thinks it’s poison. People will tell you that it’s an acquired taste, but I trust the body’s instinct on this one. I’m all in favor of teaching my palate to enjoy new things when I can see a clear benefit, but in the case of alcohol I think it makes no sense to train my palate to enjoy something that it has clearly warned me is poison, and which, in many ways, I think probably is poison.
From when my friends first started drinking in our late teens it was immediately obvious that drunkenness was a vulgar state of being. I could see this because I was always the one person that could witness their behavior with a sober mind, and in some cases, ended up being the person that had to look after them when they pushed things a little too far. I hate being around drunk people, and so it’s pretty obvious to me that I therefore wouldn’t want to risk being one myself.
I’m often told that drinking alcohol doesn’t always mean getting drunk, but that a little bit is beneficial to help relax and have fun. People often wonder how I can cope with difficult times in life without a drink to relax, or asked how I can have fun without alcohol.
Quite simply, I’ve always considered it to be an empty solution. In hard times, alcohol simply masks the problems that we’re facing and limits our motivation and ability to face up to them. When it comes to having fun, I’ve never felt that I have had a shortage of fun, or a difficulty enjoying myself. In my experience, good fun can be had by indulging in your passions and spending time in good company. If I needed artificial stimulants to have a good time, then I would think that I had some fundamental issues in life that I would need to face up to.
In conclusion, I have several good reasons not to drink alcohol, and few compelling arguments why I should. The only really benefit that I would have gained by drinking alcohol over the past decade and a half, is that I could have avoided the rather unpleasant, and very often patronizing pressure put on me by friends, family, and colleagues, but I’m strong enough to endure that. Now that I’m a bit older, the peer pressure has subsided. The hardest part is over, and now I’m largely free to enjoy my teetotal life.