A year ago today I had just moved into my new flat ready to start my first year at University. I did the whole ‘Fresher’s week’ thing and to tell you the truth I was petrified. The good news is…I survived! And the other good news is that since I no longer attend that University, and am starting a new one on Monday, I get to relive it all over again.
So really, this post is for anyone like me who isn’t big on clubbing or drinking, or perhaps can’t drink for medical or religious reasons. It’s for those of you dreading having to explain why you don’t want a shot of vodka, or don’t want to go to that party. It’s to let you know it’ll be alright. You probably will make friends, and you probably will enjoy yourself. And you know what? If you don’t, then it doesn’t matter! In the long run, there are more important things in life, and that is the main thing I learnt from my first year at University.
Fresher’s week is daunting for anyone (people will lie and tell you they’re not scared, but they are), particularly those of us who (for whatever the reason) don’t drink alcohol. It shouldn’t have to be scary, but the fact is that for some of us it really can be. Drinking is often such a large part of University culture, that it was easy for me to feel unworthy of being there, like something was wrong with me. Was I missing out? Was I just being stupid? Should I have just said yes to that drink?
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I played out a million different Fresher’s week scenarios in my head before even stepping foot into my new home. I had convinced myself that no-one would want to talk to me because I don’t drink alcohol. And that just wasn’t true. I’m not gonna lie, there will always be people who judge you for it, but really that’s their own problem, isn’t it? It’s a bit sad of them to care so much what you’re drinking instead of just minding their own business and enjoying themselves! People will come and go, but a true friend will not even care a little bit if you drink or not because it doesn’t change who you are as a person. Drinking is not a personality trait. It doesn’t define someone.
I also want to point out that just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the Fresher’s Week events! I personally chose not to go to the parties because I don’t enjoy clubbing. But that’s just me. I know a lot of people who don’t drink alcohol but love dancing and could stay out all night. Again, these are all just personal choices that we make. I personally choose not to drink alcohol because I don’t like to feel out of control, I don’t like the taste (mostly) and because certain medications I take don’t mix too well with it. You may choose not to drink for different reasons to me, but as long as you are happy with your life decisions, that is all that matters.
I’m not gonna tell you I’m not worried at all, because that’s unrealistic. It’s okay to feel anxious about starting University because it’s a new chapter of your life! But every time you’re worried about your drinking habits being the centre of attention, just remember you are strong and independent for making your own decisions. Plus, it’s no-one else’s business anyway! And there are so many other cool things to do during Fresher’s Week, you are bound to find other people with similar interests.
It has taken me a long time to realise this, but I am happy and comfortable with myself as someone who does not drink. It shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. I decided to write this today because I start my Fresher’s week at my new University in four days. And I say, bring it on. Bring on the society events and first lectures. Bring on the new friends, and new experiences. Bring it all on. Just don’t bring me alcohol 🙂