Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

A lot of people drink. Sometimes it feels like everyone drinks. But I’m here to tell you, Rooks: not everybody drinks, and I know, because I did not take my first sip of alcohol (seriously, I am serious) until I was 26 years old.

Why? Because I was Mormon until I was 18 (so no drinking), and after I left the church…I just never wanted to start. I couldn’t tell you exactly why—I just figured I’d made it a long time without drinking and might as well keep it going. I’ve never had, and do not have, a problem with anyone who wants to drink; it was just something I didn’t get interested in, at all, until a much later age than most of my friends.

What this means is: I have many years of experience being the Sober Friend in a room full of drinking and drunk people. And while being the only non-drunk person in a crowd can be annoying and tiring, it can also be really fun! Think of it: You’re out with friends and spending little-to-no money! You’re the only one who clearly remembers (and has a good Snapchat of) when Savannah backflipped off the roof! You’re the keeper of soooo many drunken confessions and often the only reliable witness for how events actually went down. If you can drive, you are often the designated driver, meaning you actually hold many of your friends’ lives in your hands. You’re rad!

If you don’t want to drink, or can’t drink, for any reason: It’s OK, and trust me—you’re not alone. But in my years of not drinking at all, I’ve noticed something crappy: Sometimes people can be really insecure about the fact that you’re not drinking. It sometimes bothers drinkers that you’re not also drinking; it makes them feel like you might be judging them, or that you’re “not fun.” Now, THIS IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM. This is their problem. But! People who feel insecure about the fact that you’re not drinking will often try to pressure you to drink, or stop inviting you to events where there will be alcohol, and that sucks. So! What can you do to stay sober and also alleviate everyone else’s insecurities, which can make parties less fun for you?

Go find a glass or a red cup. Fill the cup with seltzer or the soda of your choice. Put a thin straw in the cup. If there are limes or lemons, put one on the side of your glass. Now you have a decoy. Carry this glass around with you, sip from it occasionally, and presto! No one will say ANYTHING to you. Or feel weird, like you might be judging them, which again: Not your problem, but still a bummer for you. If anyone asks you if you want to go get a drink, wave your glass gaily and say, “I’ve got one!”

If you’re at a bar (I realize you are probably underage, but fake IDs and negligent door-people at bars exist), go stand at the bar and ask the bartender for a glass of club soda or ginger ale with a lime. (He/she might give it to you for free, but it’s still nice to tip $1, because that’s the standard tip for getting a drink at a bar.)

There is no reason you should have to hide the fact that you’re not drinking, but if you want to, the decoy drink is always an option—and there are others! My roommate Kaleigh suggests, for example, chewing gum at the party/bar, and when anyone asks you if you want a drink, wrinkling your nose and saying, “Oh, no, I’ve got gum, and it’ll taste weird, thanks though!” Good, right?

In the end, it’s no one’s business but yours why you do or don’t drink, but I hope this helps you opt out, if you want to. Now, go dance, bb! ♦