I’ll Skip the Vodka, Thanks.

With my 21st birthday quickly approaching, it seems like everyone I know is asking things like, “So what bar are you going to?” or, “What do you want your first ‘legal’ drink to be?”. I politely inform them that I do not plan on drinking on my 21st birthday. The looks of horror I have received from friends, who are desperately trying to take me out and get me so hammered I won’t be able to remember anything the next day, is equivalent to the reaction I imagine getting if I were to kill their first born child.

I don’t want to drink on my 21st birthday. It’s crazy, but I actually find that I am explaining myself to all the neigh Sayers, justifying my choice to stay sober even though I shouldn’t have to. These people, my friends and family, can’t accept that drinking at 21, which appears to be a right of passage into adulthood, is not something I want to partake in.

Parties seem to be an essential “started pack” for college life. With parties comes alcohol. It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is playing beer pong, or drinking out of a big plastic funnel. Why? Because that is what society says college is all about. Movies depict college as one endless party; no great story has ever started with, “last night, while doing my calculus homework….” and so, we drink. We do it not only because it’s what is considered “cool” but because it is our little act of acceptable rebellion. Partying at 21 is okay. Continuing to hit the party scene at 25, however, will be frowned upon, so do it now, while you’re young, because after that, you’re going to have expectations and be a part of the “real world”.

I don’t want to drink on my 21st birthday. I have bipolar disorder. I’m on medication, which, while greatly improving my life, is not supposed to be taken when consuming alcohol. I have struggled with thoughts of suicide, and depression, and you’re telling me that the only way I can be initiated into the next chapter of my adult life is by consuming alcohol, which is a depressant?! I have come too far, overcoming, anxiety, mania, depression, thoughts of suicide and self doubt, in order to get back to being the healthy, happy person I am supposed to be, and you’re saying you want me to purposefully put something into my body that might potentially send me right back into the dark, scary hole I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to dig myself out of?! I don’t want to drink on my 21st birthday.

I don’t want to drink on my 21st birthday, and I also don’t want to live in a society that forces me to justify myself, and my lack of interest in alcohol. I’m not saying that people who drink are always bad, or that they all become alcoholics. What I am saying, however, is that I don’t want to drink on my 21st birthday, and that I should be allowed to make that choice without being reprimanded for it.