Column – You do not need to drink to have a good time

Sofia Gjerstad and Sofia Gjerstad

After another drunken Santa Barbara night downtown, I was tired of being tired, so I decided not to drink alcohol for a month.

I need to study hard and I try to care about my health. It isn’t fun to go for a run when you’re hung-over.

I never really partied without alcohol before, and I need to learn how to do so. I’m pretty shy and I honestly thought it was going to be super boring to go out sober. It has so far turned out to be the opposite.

Don’t get me wrong here. I have five years of drinking under my belt, and I think drinking is fun most of the time. I like wine and dark beer, and don’t think it’s unhealthy to drink moderately, but binge drinking is nothing I enjoy anymore.

Three days after my decision, I went to the Irish pub Dargan’s downtown. Standing in the bar I wanted a Guinness really bad. My friend and I met some British guys and they had a hard time wrapping their heads around me not drinking.

I have to explain to every person I meet out why the heck I’m not drinking, because I seem to be the only one. I’ve been asked if I’m the designated driver (no) or if I’m on medication (no!). It’s tiring, really, and like I said, I don’t have time to be tired.

When I make plans with people to go out, I feel the need to tell them I’m not going to drink. I almost feel like I’m lying if I don’t, and disappoint people who thought my goal of the night was to get hammered with them.

I have met people who seem offended when I say I don’t drink. I guess because they feel like they shouldn’t do it either or that I’m just pooping their party. It is like I’m pushing a sensitive button on people, but that’s not my intention. I don’t care the slightest if people around me drink-unless if they vomit on me or try to drive drunk.

I was 16 and my sister was 14 when she got heavily drunk at a party. At the beginning of the night she seemed fine, but suddenly she couldn’t sit up and was cascade vomiting. I went with her in the ambulance to the hospital where our mother met us.

My sister means the world to me, and this incident tops the list of the worst happenings in my life. It bugs me to this day that alcohol was the main factor. I sometimes get a rush of disgust when I see alcohol, because I get a flashback from that night.

I thought it was going to be boring to go out sober. Not me-alone-in-a-corner-boring, but that I would have a hard time dancing and meeting new people.

But I have been out both downtown and to Isla Vista, and surprisingly enough it has been tons of fun every time. And I danced sober, which I didn’t think was possible.

Through my experience I have come to learn that it’s not the level of alcohol in my body that decides if I’m going to have a blast. What it comes down to is the people I’m with, the mood I’m in, and whether I like the music.