Image via Man Repeller

BY SERENE NEKOUI                                 

ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR

It’s close to midnight and you scan the room, watching your friends drink away the stress of the past week. That’s what Friday nights are for, right?

It’s nights like these that define your university experience. Conversations progressively become louder and sloppier, and it’s that time of night when your friends tell you to “have a shot of my watermelon vodka! It’s sooo good”. You politely decline, gesturing to your red solo cup filled with tap water, which only you know of course.

I like to define myself as an extrovert. While I get shy, like many others, I become energized from social interactions and find genuine happiness and fun when spending a Friday or Saturday night with my favourite people. Whether these nights involve a late bite at one of my favourite restaurants, a night in watching movies with my friends, or a late night out at Ale House or Stages, all of these evenings have one thing in common – I will most likely be completely sober.

Though sobriety is rather unconventional for a 21-year-old university student, because as we all know, alcohol is a big part of everyone’s college experience, drinking has never been an aspect of social interactions I typically liked. Not to say I don’t enjoy what comes along with social situations involving alcohol. Some of my favourite moments in university have been spent at a pre, a party, homecoming, and even Stages, all of which I am surrounded by my intoxicated peers.

Throughout my upbringing, my religious background had outlined forms of intoxicants as mind-altering, and therefore, leading the mind astray, which could only lead to bad decisions. While there is undoubtable truth to this, I don’t see anything wrong with liking to crack open a cold one with the boys. Rather, I think drinking with friends is a great bonding experience, and I’ve seen some of the best friendships begin or grow from spending a night out drinking. What I don’t like about drinking, however, is the idea that you are not having fun unless you are drunk.

While I often use the excuse of being the designated driver to get out of awkward explanations as to why I am not drinking, I am still always asked, “How do you have fun being sober?” or, “I’m probably being really annoying right now.” And my favourite, “But don’t you want to just let loose and have fun for a night?”

It’s not that I don’t drink at all. In fact, when I’m feeling extremely confident and comfortable, I’ll enjoy a glass or two of red wine on occasions. Rather than drinking in order to have fun on these rare occasions, I drink because I am having fun. I don’t depend on alcohol to give me that boost of confidence when going out with a group of people that I am not fully comfortable with. What I like about being sober specifically is that I am not dependant on a substance to aid me in social situations.

While each individual’s reasons for drinking or not drinking are different, my goal is to shed some light on the lives of us sober university students who really don’t have much of an interest for drinking. In the end, I love going out, and drinking or not drinking won’t change that. Although there are times I feel less of a connection with my friends who are all bonding over their drunken experience, it isn’t an aspect of my night that will prevent me from going out again. In the end, I love being the sober friend, and I love making memories on the nights that everyone else will forget.