Imagine going to a friend's apartment and they ask:

"Hey, do you want a beer?"

"No, that's okay. I don't drink," I respond without thinking twice.

Let's pause here for a moment. Who would have guessed that in the matter of seconds that it takes to say six one to two syllable words that I could go from being a potentially cool girl into a social outcast who has five heads, breathes fire, and has a tail?

Yeah, neither did I. But, just trust me, it is absolutely possible.

From the moment I started college a year and a half ago, I learned something very quickly: don't tell people you don't drink unless they specifically ask. I'm serious. Don't believe me? Try it yourself and see how many variations of "But, why not?" you're asked.

Trust me, as an almost twenty-year old person in college, it is strange to practically everyone including myself on very rare occasions that I don't drink. It's not that I have a problem with it, that I see alcohol as the "devil," or that I view those who drink in a negative light because I don't.

I simply do not see the thrill in alcohol.

If you want to drink then, please, by all means do so. But, by respecting your desire to drink, please, respect my choice not to.

I believe that it is your preorogative to drink just as it is mine not to.

I wish that people would simply listen to my reasons why I don't or just accept that when I say "No" to a beer that I mean it rather than continually try to persuade me into doing something that I don't have the slightest bit of interest in. However, in reality, when people learn that I don't drink, it seems as though instantly there is a big, neon, flashing sign above my head that reads, "This girl is a buzz-kill" or any of the other adjectives that people have felt were imperative to add to my name from priss to prude and everything else in between.

Choosing not to drink and knowing that people thought I was boring never bothered me in high school. At that time, I didn't care what people thought of me and I had a support system of family and close friends who loved me regardless of my decision. At college it's another story. There is no one there saying "If you don't want to drink, then you don't have to." My will-power and sense of self has been tested multiple times over the year and a half that I have been away from home I have never given into temptation. (Sometimes, to the dismay of some of my closest friends).

I've often thought while I was around those who were drinking that it wouldn't be such a big deal if I did or that everyone else is doing it so it can't be that bad. Or, maybe if I did it would be easier to fit in and make friends. Just as those thought creep into my mind and begin to weaken my will-power, I finally come to my sense.

I realize how silly it is to change the way I act or think to please others and to fit in. I refuse to change the way I feel or act in order to get other people to like me. I know that those who are meant to be in my life will respect my choice not to drink. They will still love me for the person that I am. Most importantly, those people who take the time to respect my decision will be the same people who overlook the neon, flashing sign over-top my head saying "This girl is a buzz-kill" and will get to know the real me rather than the "boring, straight-laced girl" people initially think I am when they hear I don't drink.

I know that I can't be the only person on a college campus who has no interest in drinking. I know that there are people out there who don't want to but do so just to fit in. So, to those people: Just because you are in college and everyone around you is drinking doesn't mean that you have to if you don't want to. Trust me, abstaining from alcohol isn't easy. You're will-power will be tested, you may lose a few friends, and you may be known as "boring" to those who can't look past your choice and get to know you for the incredible person that you are. Follow your heart and do what you want to do rather than what others want. I promise that at the end of the day you'll be happier and at peace with your self knowing that you stayed true to who you are and the things you believe.