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Nine things I learned doing college sober

I don’t drink or do drugs. No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, and I don’t consider my choices to have nearly as much weight as someone who has overcome addiction. I’m certainly not that resilient or brave.

My story is simply that I tried alcohol once, didn’t like how it made me feel and decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not something I like to preach about, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t shape my perspective on my time at Miami, where binge drinking seems to seep into every facet of our culture. 

So, as my final soapbox moment as a student, I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve learned from navigating the past four years as a sober Miami student.

  1. You will still be young when you graduate. College is full of people telling you that these are the last four years you’ll ever get to have fun. I have a very hard time believing this is true. I’m 22 and I feel like a baby.

  2. Not drinking doesn’t make you better than anyone. I was at a party last semester, and overheard a fellow abstainer boast: “I’m so glad I’m not drinking alcohol right now!” and it was weird and annoying. Your choice to remain sober might be deeply rooted in your identity, but keep in mind that most people (especially at a party) don’t care to hear it.

  3. Don’t be a snitch. You aren’t stopping anyone from drinking or doing drugs by telling the RA or the cops. You’re just making sure they never talk to you again.

  4. Missing out is underrated. The fear of missing out drives a lot of us to do things not because we actually enjoy them, but because we have been told we are supposed to enjoy them. 

  5. People say wild things when you tell them you don’t drink. Some people simply can’t fathom living like this, and I still haven’t figured out how to respond to that bewilderment. Once I told a girl I didn’t like being drunk, and she proceeded to excitedly tell me that she only feels like herself when she’s inebriated – It was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever heard.

  6. Beer is nasty and everyone knows it. Cheap shot, but I had to throw it in. If you say it tastes good, you’re lying. 

  7. A lot of people don’t know how to talk about anything but getting wasted. I’ve been around certain groups of people where I can’t help but think that liking to drink is the only thing they have in common with each other. So make sure your friends are still your friends when they’re sober.

  8. Alcohol costs a lot of money. You will save a lot of money if you don’t drink.

  9. You don’t need anyone’s permission to have fun. Being around drunk people when you’re sober can actually be very fun if you allow it to be. When someone says “it’s not fun if you’re not drunk,” they usually just mean: “I would feel left out if I was sober.” But you don’t need to live by their rules.

I’m not here to look down upon my fellow students who do drink, most of whom have a perfectly healthy relationship with alcohol. I just don’t think getting drunk is as essential to the college experience as it’s made out to be. If you choose not to, you’ll be just fine.

bergoe@miamioh.edu

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