Yes, you read that headline right. Before I turned 21 I had never tried alcohol. And I mean never tried alcohol. Not even a sip from my parent's wine on Christmas to see what it tasted like. I mean that my first taste of alcohol was truly at midnight on my 21st birthday.
I've been used to explaining why I'm not drinking for the past few years so here's to explaining myself one last time: drinking simply didn't interest me and it wasn't worth the risks that came along with drinking underage.
That being said, it wasn't an easy choice for me, either. I'm not the lame girl who sits at home and has no reason to be drinking, I've been turning down drinks constantly since I was 18. Whether it's at college parties, tailgates, concerts, even being in a different country where I legally could drink, I stood my ground and continued to say no, that I was waiting until I was 21.
In the past 21 years of my life I've only met one person who has ever pressured me and tried to make me feel bad about not wanting to drink underage. Other than that, whenever I've told people that I was waiting to be of age I've been applauded and reassured that "it's something that's really cool and they wish they could have done". Despite that response, it's been an embarrassing few years of constantly having to explain myself to my peers and fearing that they'll suddenly think that I'm uncool.
And although it was an awkward time of my life of having to stand against the crowd: I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I know that I sound like everyone's mom when they were in early high school having to have the talk about saying no to peer pressure, but underage drinking just simply isn't worth it. Sure, I've spent years crying to the song Fifteen by Taylor Swift (am I ashamed to admit that, absolutely not) because I didn't fit in with any of my friends at school, but it's been worth it.
I never once worried about an MIP. When I went to parties with friends, they'd be paranoid about the possibility of cops showing up to the point where they'd hide their bottles. Me? I was proudly drinking my bottle in public because, yes, it really was just lemonade.
I never had to rely on alcohol to have fun. Anytime that I went out, whether it be to a concert of sporting event, I never thought that I needed to be intoxicated to have a good time. I know that not everyone thinks this way, but I hate the mindset that people can't go to a college football game without drinking first. I've learned how to have a good time and be comfortable with myself without ever relying on alcohol. Even now that I'm 21, I've gained such an appreciation for having sober fun. Catch me still twerking on the chairs at Ariana Grande concerts... 100% sober.
I never had to lie or hide things from my parents. A big reason I didn't choose to drink until I was 21 was because when I was in early high school my mom said to me (and I quote), "When you turn 21 I want to buy you your first drink. And if it's not your first drink, I'll be really disappointed in you, but I'll still buy it". For some reason, that's always stuck with me and I've never wanted to disappoint my mom. Plus, never having to worry about my parents finding out about me drinking was just one less thing I didn't have to worry about.
I never had to pretend to be someone I wasn't. Honestly, drinking just isn't something that I'm interested in and I never saw the point in doing it before it was legal for me to do so. I've watched all of my friends drink just because it's something that they're supposed to do. As dumb as it may sound, not drinking helped me stay true to myself. I became completely unapologetic and unafraid to stand up for exactly what I believed in. I learned to stand up to peer pressure and not care what people think of me.
My first drink was more anticipated and enjoyed than any other 21-year-old, and the wait was worth it. Unfortunately, my one voice and my one story will never stop the fact that virtually every college kid chooses to drink underage. And that is their choice. But for me, waiting was the best thing that I could have done and I'll spend forever wishing that this wasn't so out of the ordinary.
Marching to the beat of your own drum? I'd drink to that.