Sorry, My Idea Of A Good Night Isn't Drinking The Same Poison That Killed My Family Member

Sorry, My Idea Of A Good Night Isn't Drinking The Same Poison That Killed My Family Member

You're never going to get to take me out for a drink, not now, not five years from now, not even 20 or 30 years from now because I don't drink.
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I'm 21 years old and I don't drink. I tried alcohol once and to be honest, it wasn't nearly as amazing as everyone says it is.

The texts I got leading up to my 21st birthday all looked something like this:

"Hey, Bri! We'll have to go out for your 21st."
or
"Bri, finally you're 21 and can come out with us."
or
"When are we going to go out to celebrate your 21st?"



I have a one-word answer for all of you: "never."

You're never going to get to take me out for a drink, not now, not five years from now, not even 20 or 30 years from now because I don't drink.

Before you think I don't drink for a religious reason or because I think I'm "too good for people who drink" or something else along those lines, allow me to stop you.

Allow me to tell you that the main reason behind my choice to not drink alcohol has nothing to do with my religion or my personal way of living.

Instead, it has everything to do with what I've witnessed.

I don't share my private life on the Internet very often, if ever, but sometimes, the need to speak out about something outweighs our desire to stay within our comfort zones and our mind-numbing mindset that we shouldn't say anything that makes us uncomfortable.

I'm 21 years old and I don't drink because I lost my uncle to drug and alcohol addiction.

People tell themselves that it's "just one drink" and that they "won't get addicted," but then they like that taste, they like that feeling and one turns into two turns into three and so on.

Seeing my uncle's life be cut short at only 51 years old from preventable causes doesn't sit well with me.

It doesn't sit well with me knowing that his death was preventable, and it doesn't sit well with me knowing that I wished I had gotten to know him even better while he was alive.

I could very well have made the choice to drink and not end up getting addicted--tons of people around the world drink but aren't addicted.

Yet, knowing how alcohol ruined and took my uncle's life makes the very smell of it something I cannot stand.

When my friends ask me to go to a party, I politely decline, hearing my uncle's words ring through my head.

"You're a smart girl, don't get involved in this stuff like I did. It messes up your life."

See, the worst part of this, for me, is that he knew he had a problem, but he couldn't get help. Seeing a family member deteriorate before your very eyes is heartbreaking.

When I look at my future, I want it to be what I want it to be. I don't want to make wine or beer my drink of choice, and I certainly don't want to leave my family, friends and other loved ones behind.

I want to determine my future, the bright one that my uncle always told me I had. I don't want alcohol to determine it for me.

And no matter how many times you tell yourself you won't get addicted, no one really knows that. No one drinks alcohol to become an alcoholic and have their life taken away from them prematurely.

No one wakes up, drinks a can of beer and thinks, "I'm going to end up being an alcoholic someday."

As cliché as the old saying "if you play with fire, you're bound to get burned" may sound, it holds a lot of truth here. When drinking alcohol, you run the risk of getting intoxicated or eventually becoming addicted.

This year will mark five years since my uncle passed away, and there's not a single day that goes by where I think, "Oh, it's so easy to not have him here."

There are days I find little signs of him everywhere. Like when I see someone with a do-rag walking around or hear an AC-DC song somewhere around campus.

I believe that my uncle was a great person, I truly do. I just believe that he had a very big struggle in life with alcohol.

I want to live to remember every single day I'm given and I want to live without regrets. If I were to drink, I think that would be a regret because I feel like the one promise I made to myself and to my uncle before he passed was that I would live the life I'm capable of living.

That life doesn't include alcohol.

It includes big career goals and personal goals that I want to meet and uphold, and those types of goals are best met sober.

So, to answer all of my friends' texts collectively, no, I won't be heading to a bar with you anytime soon, but if you want to buy me a cup of coffee for my belated 21st, I'll gladly accept the offer.

Cover Image Credit: cbeck527 / Flickr

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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10 Things You Will Learn During Your First Semester At College

Ramen for dinner... again...

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I am a freshman at Elon University in North Carolina and have just completed my first semester. It was a crazy couple of months, but I would not change them for the world. Below is a list of important lessons I have learned, and I hope that this helps incoming college students prepare for their next four years!

1.  You are never alone

Kate Tulenko

Seriously, never. Whether you are in class, in the dining hall, or hanging out in your room, you are always surrounded by people. Me being a people-person, I love the constant stimulation of people around me, and quite honestly, it was weird being alone in my room when I came home for breaks.

2.  Not spending money is hard

Giphy

Whether it's stopping at the local coffee shop or getting groceries, you will put a big hole in your spending account, so save up your summer job money while you still can!

3.  You'll find out who your real friends from home are

Kate Tulenko

Going to college is hard because all of your high school friends are all over the country. The people you called your best friends are now far, and only a few still keep in touch—These are the realest friends you could find.

4.  Your roommate will be your rock

Kate Tulenko

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful roommate this semester. We have been through a lot, and I am glad to have her in my life. Hopefully, you will be this lucky too (I'm not going to lie, some people are not as lucky) but try to make the best of the situation, whatever it ends up being. Your roommate will be there for you when you need them and will be there for every crazy story that happens, so get excited!

5.  There's no "Popular" group

Kate Tulenko

Sure, in high school there is that group of girls that seems to run the school and have everyone wrapped around their fingers. But in college it's different. There is no popular group—everyone just does their own thing and has a great time, and the best part is that no group judges another. Everyone is friends with everyone.

6.  Naps are IMPORTANT!

Kate Tulenko

I have said it once and I will say it again: College tired is a different kind of tired. And I think it's because you are always talking to people and doing things all day, and never really resting or doing nothing by yourself. It's honestly a blessing and a curse.

7.  Free food is a blessing

Giphy

PREACH! Whenever there is free food you know I'm there! You will get bored of dining hall food, so when you see a different type of food being offered on campus for free you should tap that.

8.  High School was nothing compared to college

Kate Tulenko

I love my high school friends and had a great time with them, yes, but nothing compares to the freedom and fun you have at college. You will have the best time because you can do whatever you want whenever you want—just remember that you are at college for the education, not the parties!

9.  Working out is a necessity

Kate Tulenko

It's no secret that your entire body changes when you get to college because of the change in diet and different daily schedule than what you are used to. So try to go to the gym or get some type of workout every day or so to stay in good shape. I was a swimmer, so one of my go-to workouts is to swim.

10.  Your new friends will be your new family

Kate Tulenko

You will form an unbreakable bond with your friends at college because you all are facing this new chapter in your life, and no one really knows what they are doing. You will figure out this path together, which is what brings everyone so close. Me and my new friends felt like a family not even two weeks into the semester, and now that bond is even stronger. I cannot wait to see what the next three years will be like with my new family by my side. So, get excited for college—I promise it's everything people hype it up to be!

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