Turning 21 in America, or 18 in some other countries, constitutes the primary age to legally consume and purchase alcohol. Within those places, I’ve noticed that there’s so much emphasis on alcohol as being the “right of passage” into adulthood. There are tons of commercials, ads, billboards, restaurants, newspapers, magazines, television shows, sportscaster and even regular people in our lives who stress the importance of alcohol consumption. But why is alcohol seen as a right of passage for the cultural norm of society? Why do we place so much emphasis on consuming alcohol?
Once upon a time, I used to be a social drinker — that means that I’d only drink on occasion when I was in a fun environment with friends. In college, hanging out on weekends, kicking back a few glasses of wine, champagne, vodka or Grand Marnier while “living it up” partying the night away until 6 o’ clock in the morning was the life for me. Now, as a non-drinker, I’ve received more flack from people about not drinking than when I used to drink.
Whenever I’m in an atmosphere where there’s alcohol being served or provided, which is rare because I typically enjoy cooking at home, the first question that’s always asked is, “What are you drinking?” Am I the only one that finds this a bit odd? Why is it that at most restaurants, the waiter always starts with the special cocktails of the day followed by asking to take the drink orders before even offering up complimentary glasses of water. When did we become a society that values wine over water? Again, why has alcohol become such a staple in our communities?
Before, when I was a social drinker, I’d receive a pat on the back for drinking. It didn’t matter how many drinks I had, as long as I was drinking then everyone was cool and felt comfortable enough to be around me. Now that I’m not a drinker, I receive an odd look of confusion and discomfort, followed by a bombardment of questions like,
- “What’s wrong with you?
- Why don’t you drink?
- What do you drink then if you’re not drinking alcohol?
- You don’t even drink wine or champagne?”
Hello, have people forgotten there are other beverages to drink besides alcohol? Why is it such a hard pill to swallow that not everyone is interested in having a drink? Society has become so backwards nowadays. It’s now unacceptable to be a non-alcoholic and totally acceptable to be an alcoholic / social drinker. It’s now cool to be drunk and uncool if you’re sober. Why can’t you be the life of the party without having a drink in your hand or on your breath?
I’ve been walking this sober path ever since I took an oath of adapting a vegan diet over 7 years ago. You’d think with time passed, things would be different and those who know me would be used to the fact that I don’t drink. Yet still, after 7 years, I’ve received questions and blank stares when I tell someone I don’t drink. Heck, I receive those same responses even from people I don’t even know. Since I don’t drink anymore, I’m now considered socially awkward and the odd ball out. I’ve hosted parties and have had people ask if they could BYOB since I don’t drink. It’s quite sad that we’re in a culture that people will only show up to an event if there’s alcohol involved.
At times, I’ve become so frustrated with the bombardment of crazy questions that I’ve chosen to turn the tables on them. When I’ve asked why they drink, I’ve received more blank stares followed by sarcastic remarks about how crazy I am for not drinking and how boring things are without alcohol involved. However, I disagree with those sentiments. I’ve found that I have more fun sober, clear headed and level minded than I did when I was intoxicated. While being sober, I’ve noticed that those who drink have underlying issues that they refuse to deal with. Coming to this revelation helped me take a look at myself to better understand my own drinking past.
I took a small poll from a few people and the response was surprisingly overwhelming. Almost all of them said the reasons why they drink were to:
- Feel something / less of something
- Release tension / stress
- “Break the ice” /nervousness
If those are the surface factors of why someone drinks, then shouldn’t we look at the underlying issues of anxiety, social awkwardness, fear, stress, and dare I say, depression? If alcohol is the ice breaker or stress reliever, then clearly the issues one faces are much deeper than a seemingly boring party. Most people fear rejection, fear being in the spotlight and fear that their dance game may not be up to par with what’s hip and cool today. We’ve seemed to fall into a pitfall of fitting in versus standing out. No one wants to be seen as different or weird. This reminds me of the high school / primary school paradigm where the boys and the girls would rather stand by the punch bowl, nestle on the bleachers or hold up the wall due to fear of rejection or appearing different / uncool.
However as adults, shouldn’t we have passed this stage? Shouldn’t we be secure in ourselves and our own uniqueness that we don’t get so caught up in what other people may think, say or feel? It seems the reason why we still resort back to childlike behavior is because we haven’t dealt with the issues that haunted the kid within ourselves. We never dealt with those childhood insecurities, we just learned how to bury them deep down inside and mask them with alcohol and adulthood.
One of the best things that I could’ve ever done in my life was turn a mirror on myself. When I stopped making excuses for my behavior and started to execute changes to my behavior, my actions began to change. Once I took the time to truly discover the root of my problems, I was able to take them to God and have Him fix them. Even when I wasn’t able to quite identify the issues plaguing my life, I opened my bible, read it faithfully and asked God for guidance. I knew I didn’t want to be the same person anymore. I knew that just existing and masking my problems with the egotism of adulthood was not enough. It wasn’t cool to fake like I wasn’t hurting inside. It wasn’t cool to pretend anymore like I had it altogether. I needed God and I needed him to step up and show out in a huge way.
By God working through me, my life began to change. I was able to gain a confidence I never knew I had. I was able to gain enlightenment that I never knew existed. I was able to come to terms with fully loving myself and accepting myself as imperfectly perfect. I was able to see that I didn’t need inhibitors to enable my movement, all I needed was God. I was able to understand that I was not designed to be superhero and handle life on my own. I was able to experience the power of God and receive a new perspective on a divine level. He gracefully broke me down in order to build me up and make me perfectly whole in Him.
God works in mysterious ways. Years ago when I stopped drinking, I had no idea that I would be here today talking about the effects of drinking and the links it has to our childhood and adulthood issues. I never knew the emphasis of alcohol that was placed on my life because of my family’s generational curse of never dealing with their problems. Had I continued down a destructive path of drinking, I’d never known nor been able to identify not only the patterns in my family but the connections within my own life.
Drinking helped me mask the pain and anxiety instead of dealing with it. However, once I brought my problems to God and started to examine the root of why I was drinking, I was able to start seeing clearly and addressing my underlying issues. I was able to transition and eliminate the need for any inhibitors besides Jesus Christ altogether.
Today’s writing isn’t judgment on anyone who drinks — to each its own. God is the judge and jury, not me. I’m just providing some perspective that I’ve noticed through my own research and life’s experiences. I know what you’re thinking, “Well, Jesus turned water into wine,” and yes this is true. However, Jesus also said later in the text (Bible) during His Last Supper,
“Mark my words– I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29 NLT)
So as this holiday season is in full swing, I know that many of us will be going to or hosting dinner parties. Instead of handling things as you used to, I challenge you to embark on something new: figure out why you’re drinking.
- Are you drinking to deal with social anxiety, fear or awkwardness?
- Are you drinking to de-stress?
- Are you drinking to block out loved ones?
- Are you drinking to cope with pain, hurt, depression, etc?
If you’re drinking for any of the above reasons, then you need to find a better way to conquer your demons. Embrace other meditative ways like prayer and studying the Word of God. Drinking solves nothing. It offers you a false state of mind. It allows you to be inebriated and feel numb to your pain but it does not take away your pain. The drama, headaches and stressors in your life will not magically go away because you drink a bottle or glass of something. The only way to conquer fear, anxiety, anger, anguish, stress or pain is to take it to the King. Only Jesus can fix it! Only God can make you new and whole again. It may sound cliche, I know, but I speak from experience. I, too, once thought that God wasn’t “all that” powerful and couldn’t possibly be bothered with trying to fix my mess. However, it was in my mess when God showed up the most!
“When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.””
(Matthew 9:12-13 NLT)
So take heart with God. Pick up your cross and lay out all of your cares and burdens onto The Lord. Let Him work through you and use your past in order to change your future. You are not bound to lead any life less than what God has in store for you. Enjoy your holiday season with your family and loved ones but remember to be healthy and merry for there’s always a better way through Christ!
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””
(Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by IG user & my alma mater: @lasalleuniv