Why I'm happy with my decision not to drink
SpunOut.ie volunteer Caitlin talks about Ireland's drinking culture and why she doesn't drink alcohol
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The power of choice
These days what I find that brings young people together most is pushing for the power of choice. Whether it’s about going to college, being able to vote or legalising abortion, we can recognise that everyone has the right to their own decisions. So when we can agree on most things, I can’t quite understand why I do get interviewed every time I go out and don’t drink alcohol.
Ever since I made my pledge not to drink at my confirmation ceremony I decided I never would and I never have. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and I saw it as an ambitious goal for myself. I didn’t think much of it until my friends started drinking when I was turning 14. Living in Dubai at the time, the consequences of getting caught with alcohol in your system were terrifying so I didn’t even consider it. It was very easy to push the idea out of my head.
Focusing on having fun
At social events where I was comfortable I was happy to dance and chat with anyone. Other times I felt anxious and understood why you might have a drink to take the edge off. On nights like those I was more tempted but I didn’t want the reason I drank to be because I felt the need to depend on something else to make me more relaxed. Instead I tried to focus on being present and really enjoying my time out with friends or family, not caring what other people were thinking.
Now that I’m 19 and going into college I feel like I’ve learnt how to make the most of going out without drinking and the benefits that come from it. Although I’d feel more comfortable trying it now I’m honestly not bothered. The way I see it is when I go out I’m going to have an amazing time. I shouldn’t have to rely on a substance for this to happen. I have found that there are many advantages to this lifestyle such as never having a hangover and a quick recovery so I can easily function the next day. This is especially important to me because I’m training for a marathon and I won’t let it get in the way of hydration and my best performance.
Be proud of the decisions you make
At the end of the day we do all have choices - if we want to drink, what age you start , how much, how frequently, with who etc. I personally would advise you to listen to yourself and not others acting as a social pressure. It takes a lot of willpower but it will make you a stronger person. I have found that it’s not the lack of drinking you’ll regret but the times you missed out on making memories - that’s what’s really important. In Ireland we have a culture around drinking that’s known all over the world but you don’t have to be a part of that if you don't want to be. So stand up for your own decisions and be proud of the decision you make!