The Secret Life of a Sober College Student


Photo courtesy of Kayla Costales

Water is always the better option.

I’m an average college student, who sleeps hours before the sun rises and goes to most of my classes. I have hopes and dreams for a bright future, while also procrastinating on my next big assignment. I blend in with the crowd as if I’m just like them. The one difference: I choose not to drink alcohol.

In college, alcohol seems to be the commonality amongst people. Going to parties and taking shots are ways of connecting and sharing experiences. It’s a normal activity for almost everyone except me. I have never had a sip of alcohol and I feel perfectly content with that decision.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason. Perhaps it was the various experiences around me that drove this decision, but nevertheless this is what I’ve decided for myself.

In high school, it seemed taboo to even talk about drinking. Coming from a small, Christian school, the subject of alcohol was avoided, unless we were discussing the last supper. It wasn’t until a troubled 8th grader was expelled for apparently bringing beer in a Hydro Flask that the idea of alcoholic beverages in my posession meant disaster.

Being naive high schoolers, we would joke about going crazy, once of age, but at the time 21 looked like a far time into the future.

But time flies when you’re sober.

In five months, I will be what everyone around me labels “legal.” It’s hard for me to grasp the concept of celebrating differently than all previous years.

Now, I have no problem with others who choose to drink. It’s their life, not mine.

However, what I can’t stand is the pressure that some place on me to be like them. In my freshman year, some friends asked if I wanted to go to go with them to a bar that turns a blind eye to anyone underage. At the time, I just wanted to fit in while at the same time, stand by my morals of refusing alcohol.

So I lied and told them I was busy. Good job, Christian.

On another instance, while hanging out in Waikiki, the urge to find a bathroom suddenly struck me and my friends. And of course, the closest one was in a bar.

I was uncomfortable while walking through the crowd of drunken tourists, and quickly determined that this wasn’t my scene.

The idea of drinking has never appealed to me. It has caused multiple problems for many of my family members, both health and relationship related. My dad’s oldest brother had a stroke in his 40s due to bad dietary habits, which included alcohol on a daily basis.

Because of the strong influences all around me, a fear of judgment and peer pressure began to grow in me, and it hindered me from going out with friends.

Those fears seemed to break away when I stepped out of my comfort zone and was invited to a birthday party for a coworker. There were two options for where it was going to take place: Gen Korean Barbeque House or a Korean bar, which apparently lets minors in.

After hearing the options, I voiced my opinion saying that I’m fine with either place but that I don’t drink. Expecting my coworkers to choose the bar, I began to mentally prepare myself on how to handle the situation because I truly wanted to celebrate with them.

To my surprise, they chose the restaurant. A relieved feeling quickly came over me, and for once I was excited to go out.

Through this experience I learned that it’s always better to stand by your beliefs even if others think differently. I rarely meet people with the same views, but all I can do is follow what I think is best for myself. And if that means saying no to drinking, then so be it.