Are you on antibiotics or something?” This is the response I get 99% of the time when I tell people I don’t drink. The other 1% is usually just a blank stare or a look of disgust. Being a 20 year old student who doesn’t drink by choice is a revelation unfathomable to the majority of Irish people but I’m sure there are others like myself out there. I’m just yet to meet them. Or hear of them.

Being a student, a huge part of our culture is alcohol. There are throughout the year dedicated to seeing who can remember as little of the week as people. Events like Freshers and Rag Week are dreaded by people like me. As much as I want to get out there and enjoy myself, it’s difficult to do so when most of the events centre on getting plastered. No fear though freshers! The 5 of you reading this who don’t drink shouldn’t let that get in the way of bonding with your class. It’s so important that you attend the social nights out anyway, even if you feel uncomfortable, just to show you’re involved. Once you have gotten to know everyone better you can lay off on the mad nights out and retreat to your beloved Netflix once more.

The sober life

The responsibilities of the sober are manifold and varied.

A night out for me as a non-drinking student usually goes like this. Arrive at the house of whoever is holding pre-drinks or ‘drink as much as we can now so we don’t have to buy drinks out’. The beginning is great because everyone is sober and catching up with each other. Then the red cups come out and the alcohol starts flowing. Voices get louder and I become quieter. After the sufficient amount of photos have been taken and I’ve had the chats with the mother of the host I load them into my car and off we go. Another disadvantage of being sober, it’s assumed you will be designated driver. Arrive at the nightclub. Make sure no one is stumbling or talking shite. Enter nightclub. Stand through 3 hours of people falling on top of you and countless bathroom trips. Leave nightclub in search of food. Drop anyone home who you haven’t lost to your disreputable food establishment of choice, or a house party. Home. Sleep. Next morning, sober hangover (I can assure you these are real things).

Seeing as I very rarely go out I don’t think I have the audacity to complain really. All though being the only non-drinker in your group can be tough. I often feel like I hardly see my friends and I don’t make the effort to see them as much as I should because of the dislike I’ve developed of going out. If you reading this are going to take one piece of advice from all this whinging let it be that you don’t let your own beliefs and morals interfere with your social life. If your friends are planning a night out during the week, plan a cinema trip or a coffee date for the following week. Stay involved in the group banter based on tales of the dancefloor by asking how their night was and if anyone pulled.

Being a non-drinker is always going to come up in conversation. You don’t have to go into detail if it’s personal and you certainly do not have to defend yourself. A lot of people have given me hassle for not drinking, saying things like, “You need to get a life”, or “How do you live?”. Pretty well actually, with a healthy bank account and a liver that isn’t going to shut down in 20 years. Some people will congratulate you on your determination but honestly, most will try and change your ways.

The sober are not as easily seduced by the allure of the enticing meat pillar.

Sober nights out are never fun. When everyone else is being their funny drunk selves you can often seem like the boring old fart who would rather be at home watching The Late Late Show (which isn’t exactly inaccurate). There just has to be a balance, have fun with your friends elsewhere. When it comes to finding a partner, just get your friends to befriend boys and then get them to set you up. It worked for me. Just be aware that drinking isn’t the be all and end all. Enjoy your college experience as much as possible, whether you’ve a can in your hand or not.

Frances Watkins