5 things you can expect if you’re a student who doesn’t drink

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There are many reasons why students might choose not to participate in campus drinking culture. Whether it’s because of family history, personal experiences, religious reasons or even just a strict adherence to drinking-age laws, there’s no “wrong” reason to choose not to partake. In light of this, here’s a list of things that you can expect when you’re a college student who doesn’t drink.

Carrying a nonalcoholic drink around at parties to look like you’re drinking

When you’re at a party or a bar, you quickly learn that the only way not to get any weird looks is to get something to drink. Whether it’s a Shirley Temple, a Coke or a hot chocolate, it feels a lot better when you’re sitting across from someone with a glass of something in front of you. Humans are social creatures, so eating and drinking is something we do in herds. Some of us just like our drinks to be less spiked than others.

Constantly having to let people know you don’t drink

If you don’t have a chance to grab that nonalcoholic beverage before a friend or potential love interest gets to you, chances are they’re going to offer you a beer or something similar. While that’s very kind of them, you will find yourself having to say, “No, thank you” or “that’s OK.” These responses are totally valid because it really is OK not to drink.

Learning to navigate situations where people assume you’re judging them

The moment a friend finds out you don’t drink can be a little awkward. Nobody likes being the only one getting drunk, and those around you may start to feel like they have a sober audience for their own embarrassing shenanigans. Rarely does someone actually ask why you choose to abstain. But when they do, it’s usually coming from one of two places: they’re either assuming you think it’s a mortal sin of some kind or that you’re stuck in a cult that doesn’t allow fun. Which brings us to our next point…

Still having a good time during parties

Being the person who sits out with another friend to talk about the meaning of life over a Coke while everyone is playing beer pong or dancing can lead to a lot of well-meaning “are you having fun?” questions from your less-sober friends. But rest assured, it’s possible to have a great time without any alcohol.

Being the designated driver and mother hen

Making sure your friends are drinking enough water and getting their Ubers to make sure they get home safely is basically the No. 1 rule of being the nondrinking friend. This is especially true when hanging out with friends who are new drinkers who might overdo it. We keep a sharp eye out for any funny business and are ready to intervene at a moment’s notice.

All in all, drinking is a personal decision. You should feel no pressure to do anything that doesn’t feel right to you. Let’s all be good Bears and drink responsibly, whatever type of drink we’re having.

Contact Lauren West at [email protected].