You’d think peer pressure would be mutually exclusive to being a teenager in secondary school, I know I did. You know the kind, agreeing to things you didn’t agree with, saying you understood things you didn’t understand, smiling and nodding along to conversations that lost you within the first couple of sentences. All pretty harmless because after all you just wanted to fit in. To be accepted, and in a few years time school would be over and it wouldn’t matter anyway.
You leave peer pressure behind with the school uniform right?
Maybe I am breaking some kind of code by admitting it but when I got to uni I still felt it. By then I was older and wiser so it didn’t affect me to the same extent but it was there non the less. University is a fresh start with new people and you want to be liked and accepted and this means you have to fall in line. In a few ways I didn’t. I made a lot of friends at uni because I’d like to think I’m a nice, likable person. Not the most confident, but easy to get along with, however I wasn’t a typical (or a stereotypical) student, so perhaps some thought I wasn’t fully embracing the student life.
You see the thing is I don’t drink. Never have and I doubt I ever will. But I’ve come to realise that admitting I’m teetotal at 22 produces the same reaction from some as if I’d admitted to being a raving alcoholic. Peer pressure is as prevalent in your twenties as it is in your teens. Who knew?
Now I want to set some things straight. I have absolutely no problem with people who drink alcohol. Almost all of my family and friends drink and I accept this without any argument. My reason behind not drinking has nothing to do with being on some sort of moral high ground and I certainly don’t frown upon those that like a good drink. However because I don’t drink I feel, that it’s not so much frowned upon, as constantly questioned. People just don’t get it. Those that drink don’t have to repeatedly explain why they do so why should I have to continually explain why I don’t?
The reason is a pretty boring one actually. I just don’t like it. I hate the alcohol taste. I think it tastes like hairspray, you know when your mid spray and you breathe in and get that horrible taste at the back of your throat? That’s what it tastes like to me! The problem is I constantly have to explain this. When I say I don’t drink some people just can’t accept this, they need to know why, like it’s some kind of abnormality.
Being alcohol free doesn’t spoil anything for me. I don’t need it to have a good time or to relax. I’ve had plenty of fun times with my friends at home and yes even at uni without the need of a drink in my hand. I can still go out with my friends and enjoy their company and enjoy whatever it is we may be doing minus the presence of alcohol. What I think is more of an issue is that people can’t seem to relax around me in some social situations if I don’t drink, because they’re too busy questioning why.
While we’re on the subject I’m not a party girl either. Going out clubbing every week isn’t my thing. That kind of atmosphere makes me feel a bit uncomfortable and unsure, I’m sure a lot of that can be put down to confidence but the fact that everybody else is half cut or at least half way there doesn’t help when I’m sober as a judge. To be honest the whole party animal thing just isn’t very me. I can’t think of anything worse than being packed into a club where the R&B/dance music is that loud you cant hear your friends talk or yourself think, where you have to do battle to get to the bar and queue to get to the toilet. However because I know my friends like to do this I (very) occasionally make the effort. On such occasions there is always someone in the group who vows to get me drinking. No you won’t, I DON’T LIKE IT! Urgh! In these situations I’m clock watching by nine and back in bed by twelve.
For my 22nd birthday, because I know my twin sister likes going out into town, I made the effort to go out with her and some friends. I actually surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it (although it’s not something I would want to do all the time.) Because my friends know me so well they didn’t nag about me not drinking and they didn’t complain when after a few hours I got fed up and headed home for 12.
Going out for a meal or meeting in a bar for a natter is far more my thing when it comes to socializing with mates. This way there is no dramas once you’ve had too much to drink and no hangover the morning after. It’s in these situations that I have had some of the best and funniest times with my friends. And you know what, despite being in my twenties sometimes I just want to stay in and watch the box.
So my question is: What’s the big deal? I don’t drink and I’m not a party girl. So what? Just because I’m teetotal and I don’t go out every weekend there’s a perception that I’m not a proper 20 something, because proper grown up 20 something women go out and have a drink in a club with mates. But who said that a proper 20 something should behave in a certain way? Does the fact that I’m teetotal make me any less grown up? Does the fact that clubs aren’t really my scene make me any less adult? What/who is a the perfect 20 something? Who sets the precedent?
More to the point why does there need to be a precedent? We all have different likes and dislikes, different tastes, different hobbies, and different opinions .We are all different and we should all be allowed to be so.
At some point or another I’m sure we’ve all felt peer pressure. Some to a bigger extent than others. I know that more than once I have questioned why I don’t drink when my friends do, and why I don’t enjoy going out partying like my friends do. And the answer is because I’m an individual. I’m just me. And I think peer pressure can piss off.
Don’t follow the pack, say no to what you don’t want to do and yes to what you do. Who says you have to do what everyone else is doing to be accepted? Be who you want to be and do what you want to do. If people can’t or won’t accept you for who you are sod em, and go find people that will. I would say break the mould but there is no mould as each and every single one of us is different to start with. ‘The mould’ is made by peer/social pressure. And its bollocks. What makes us unique makes us amazing. So off you go, be amazing.
P.s This will be my last post before I go into hospital for my operation, so give me a couple of weeks to get back home and back to reality and I will get posting again. x