Don’t shame people for choosing not to drink
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
If you’re an adult who is even remotely social, there’s a probability you’ll encounter alcohol at some point or another. Shockingly to some, you have the right to decide whether or not you feel like drinking it. Wild, right?
I’m beginning to realize that there are few things that bother me more than when someone makes another person feel lame for choosing not to drink. As someone who oscillates between alcohol friendly and alcohol avoidant—it honestly depends on my mood—I’ve found myself in some awkward situations that didn’t need to be awkward, all because someone chose to grill me on my decision to have a club soda sans gin.
Whatever someone’s reason is for declining a drink—be it money, health, needing to drive, or just not wanting one—it’s your responsibility to accept and respect that decision.
There’s no reason to make someone feel like they’re doing something wrong or being a downer just because they feel like staying sober. There’s no acceptable scenario where that sort of negative pressure is okay. I feel like that sort of stigmatizing behaviour perpetuates a troubling, alcohol-centric culture that a lot of people my age—mid-20s—have bought into.
Alcohol isn’t for everyone; it’s expensive and it can have some unpredictable effects. It’s not even appropriate for every situation—there are plenty of ways to celebrate without feeling the need to partake in a lineup of shots. I’ve found that when people are prepared for an alcohol-fuelled night out, they tend to expect everyone around them to join in, which can be frustrating for someone who doesn’t want to drink.
A friend of mine once asked why I bothered to come out if I wasn’t going to drink, which really threw me off—alcohol and being social aren’t mutually exclusive. I went out to see people I knew and have some food, which was plenty of fun and honestly, fun enough for me.
People need to realize that alcohol isn’t the only way to have a good time. By not drinking, it doesn’t mean that you’ve decided to ruin the fun—the fun should come from the people and surroundings, not the pints. It’s disrespectful to not appreciate when someone joins a night out just because they aren’t doing what is expected of them. It’s rude to exert peer pressure on a grown adult all because you’re uncomfortable with a decision they’ve comfortably made.
Let people create the experiences that they want and respect the choices they make, even if it’s something as small as turning down a cocktail. By mocking someone for not having a drink, you’re trying to instill doubt over a decision that they don’t need to be stressed or doubtful over.
Why invite a bunch of people out if all that matters is the alcohol? If you’re the kind of person who makes others feel crappy for not drinking with you, maybe next time you should take yourself out for drinks and not drag anyone down with you.