“How come you don’t drink?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be on the Forbes list. I usually just give some generic response like “I don’t need it and I don’t like the taste…” But truly there is a multitude of reasons I don’t drink alcohol, too many for me to spiel on a trivial conversation at a typical party.
In 2012, I made a decision to stop drinking alcohol. At the time, I made the choice purely on impulse; I had gotten in trouble for underage drinking and shame, layered with the subsequent distrust of people close to me, heavily influenced my decision. But the following few months after my self-imposed prohibition, I started to notice several things that strengthened my convictions against alcohol. My abstinence had actually enlightened me to a whole host of virtues that I would have otherwise been oblivious to.
Will-Power and Discipline
In continually abstaining from alcohol, which is so much a facet of our society, I was able to practice not only a resistance against temptation but also a disregard for other people’s judgment and ridicule. In doing this, I cultivated a deep sense of discipline and will-power. I took pride in the fact that I stood by my decision when it would have been easier and ‘normal’ to conform.
I believe there is something to be said for someone with the strength of mind to abstain and defend their convictions in an atmosphere that encourages the opposite.
This newly found sense of self-discipline and will-power has poured into other aspects of my life and I truly believe that anyone who can abstain from alcohol, through their own conviction, can cultivate the strength of mind and discipline to do anything they set their mind to.
My abstinence from alcohol also allowed me to unconsciously gain the trust of people around me. I first noticed this with my parents who would no longer worry when I spent nights out at clubs and bars. My sobriety had somehow given them the reassurance that I could take care of myself—I’m sure they weren’t complaining.
People began to view me in a totally different light when they learned of my abstinence; they saw it as an attribute that warranted their trust and I unconsciously built this aura of dependability and maturity. In this way, I began to grow in my relationships because people felt they could trust me extensively, and trust, in any relationship, is pivotal.
Most people think that if they stopped drinking, they would be outcast and rejected by their friends who do—I thought the same. But my experience was quite the contrary. People actually respected my decision and commended me for it. In fact, on nights out, people saw my abstinence as a manner of sophistication and were drawn towards me. I actually formed a lot of relationships from conversations that began “… wait you’re serious, you don’t drink??”
I suppose my abstinence gave me a stronger sense of identity, a more distinct personality—perhaps that’s what drew people toward me. My non-conformance to drinking alcohol made me ‘different’… and I found pride in this difference. I wasn’t just ‘following the crowd’, or submitting to the norms of society, I wasn’t just another follower… I was ‘Someone’.
After nights out I commonly hear my friends wake up in the morning and complain about their tabs reaching $60-70 and I do not envy them.
To think my entire four years of college I never spent a single cent on alcohol…
I don’t think I saved enough to make the Forbes list but according to statistics, the average college student spends up to $900 a year on booze… just hearing that is motivation enough to stay sober.
Of course, there are more benefits of my abstinence (like health and safety) but these are the few that I discovered that aren’t apparent to most people.
To this day I remain sober since 2012—and I continue to take pride in my abstinence. My sobriety has become a large part of who I am and it has instilled within me a wealth of virtues that I was otherwise oblivious to. I don’t regret that I stopped drinking and I would encourage other people to do the same. Know that there is power in non-conformance to the patterns of this world, and with it, you can develop the strength of mind to do anything you desire.