Why I don’t drink alcohol, and why it’s okay to choose not to

I’m in my mid twenties and it’s almost 2019. Everyone I know finishes a hard week/day of work/university with a glass of wine or a cheeky beer. It’s also the festive season, the season of merriment which means an amount of  alcohol consumption that occurs during no other season, so I thought it was the perfect time to discuss alcohol and why it’s okay not to drink it.

Before I start, I’d like to say I have drank before, and did so for a few years,  so it’s not one of these things where you can question that I ‘don’t know what i’m missing’. I’ve been living the tee-total life for almost six years now, so I can safely say I’m pretty accustom to every line that’s ever thrown at a person who doesn’t drink. The most frequent being, “Why not?” followed by “Why don’t you just have one drink?” These phrases frustrate me like nothing else, because if someone was vegetarian, for example, you wouldn’t question their choice to not eat meat, and you definitely wouldn’t try and get them to eat some. So why is alcohol any different?

I chose to stop drinking around the time my anxiety started to get intense because I found that it triggered it. I also found it was giving me heart palpitations, and it just wasn’t really worth my time. Especially as it’s  something you’re actively paying for, for it to make you feel worse then it doesn’t really make any logical sense to carry on… I haven’t started drinking again simply because I haven’t felt any need, or reason, to do so. That’s not to say one day I won’t, but right now I’m still perfectly happy with my choice.

You do you could not be a more perfect phrase for this topic. You should never feel like you have to do something because everyone else is. I know that feeling so well though, you don’t want to be the odd one out, especially in your early twenties. When I first stopped drinking, every would ask so many questions about why, and proceed to tell me how they couldn’t possibly not drink and how horrendous it must be for me. I also got called boring on multiple occasions by the same person, and still, to this day, I’ll never get my head around how affected other people can get by a decision that has no impact on them…

On my postgrad there’s a weekly pub gathering, usually with the speakers they have in for our masterclasses, where everyone drinks and socialises together. They talk a bit more informally about the industry and everyone drinks. From day one, I didn’t feel in the slightest bit awkward. From the outset I was just honest with anyone who asked and said that I didn’t drink. Maybe it’s just a change of the times, because it’s not a change of age as most of my peers are in their early twenties, nobody really batted an eyelid. I had a few questions about if I’d ever drank or why I chose not to, but no one was trying to force me to drink, or make me feel isolated because I wasn’t. This could quite honestly be just because I’m more sure of myself now than I was before, and more confident with my own decisions, something that has definitely come with age. Whichever reason it is though, or maybe it’s a combination of both, it’s nice to be able to share something positive. I’m also not trying to say drinking is bad, or you shouldn’t do it, I’m simply sharing my own view. Whether your enjoying a cocktail or a mocktail this year, whatever your reasoning, I hope you’re having a fabulous festive season!

Finishing term one – life update

Now I’ve handed in my final assignment and university is over and out until next year, I finally have a bit of time on my hands to dedicate to my neglected blog. I wanted to do a bit of a uni-related life update before Christmas and the New Year came along. Considering I never got round to writing an update talking about what I’m studying, I figured an end-of-term round up would be the best way to cover all avenues! 

As you probably already know, I feel like I’ve mentioned it so many times in passing, I started my Master’s Degree in September. My chosen subject for my MA is Publishing. Books are something that I’ve loved since I was a small child, but a love of reading is not solely what led me to Publishing. My love of writing and my interest in the process of making books, combined with a general interest in the field, are amongst a lot reasons that led me to my MA. This time last year when I was in my third year, I still hadn’t considered publishing as an option and I had zero idea what I wanted to do when I finished my undergrad. It only came to me as a potential option when I was researching earlier this year, and cemented itself into my future after I attended the open evening. So if you’re in third year and you have zero clue about your future career/study options, fear not, it will come to you!

In terms of my MA though, to be honest, the idea of wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. I knew I was going to have to relocate and move over 100 miles to go to my chosen university. I knew I was going to have to travel over an hour to get there from where we chose to live (well I actually thought it would be around half of this time, but thanks to rush-hour bus traffic it wasn’t…). Basically, I knew it was going to be a lot, but until you’ve actually started, I don’t think you ever realise exactly what it’s going to be like.
Week one and two were okay, I think I was still riding the waves of excitement and enjoying the freedom and how different everything was. Shortly after that was when the anxiety hit, although it was more like a return. It was really bad for weeks. I didn’t want to leave the flat but at the same time I didn’t want to stay in inside of it either. Now if you’ve ever had any anxiety issues, you can probably relate as I believe that to be one of the worst feelings. Despite this, I still made it to university every single day. I managed to push myself through what felt like an impossibility. My tutor told me that I was very good at hiding it, I mean I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing to be honest, but it’s a thing nonetheless. It has picked up a bit, my anxiety is not quite as bad now as it was a couple of months ago, but I still have ups and downs. These things don’t really go away so easily, as much as we’d like them to. Change is difficult, It takes time, so I think I should be pretty proud of myself.

In terms of workload, in ten days we had three big deadlines, so it was really intense towards the end. I definitely wasn’t feeling as stressed as I probably would have been though, I think it was more exhaustion than anything else! I’ve finished my first term having done a group presentation with people I’d known for mere days, and an individual presentation that lasted for 3 and a half minutes, plus a number of other assignments. If you’d have told me this time last year I would have been doing that, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It was an intense 12 weeks to say the least, and at times it went slow, and other times it went really quickly, as a whole though, I’m not entirely sure where the time went.

Now I have a couple of weeks to send lots of emails, try and snag myself a work placement, do an assignment, and start another one. Before all that though, I’m allowing myself to enjoy the run up to Christmas, as I still have some presents to buy….