Teetotal at 20

People always find it really odd when I decline a drink. After all I’m only twenty years old and should be ‘living it up’. I should be travelling and partying and doing stupid things.

I have no issue with people that do those things, by the way. It’s simply a personal preference. General society assumes that I’d be a drinker and for this reason I’m somehow strange or boring for not liking a drink.

With my 21st birthday coming up, there’s so much pressure to go all out and do something big because I can’t not celebrate it. I’ll regret it if I don’t, I’m told. Maybe later I will regret not getting into a state for my 21st birthday, for it’s what normal people do. But now? It’s the last thing I want.

People probably think I’m wasting my youth with a full time job, long-term boyfriend and no interest in parties or travelling. In a way this is a bit offensive to me – my life may be settled – boring, to many – but I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done with it so far.

I used to drink, almost every weekend in fact. I’d be in clubs with sticky floors and pervy men, waking up with Jäger in my hair. I enjoyed it then, but that was before I gave any kind of value or attention to my mental health and the way I spend my time. I prefer to spend my time (and money) on other things now. All the spare time I have goes into my boyfriend and blog and all the spare money I have goes into #TalkMH.

My mental health was one of the main reasons that I stopped drinking. Alcohol wreaks havoc with depression and anxiety. I gave up the things that I knew would make my mental health worse: alcohol, caffeine, in some cases, people. I went back to caffeine but never alcohol. It just didn’t appeal.

I have nothing against those who drink. It’s simply a personal preference. All of those closest to me are drinkers and I don’t think any differently of them for it. I’d just rather a cup of tea.

Maybe I’m old before my time. Maybe I’m boring. Ok. I’m ok with that. This is how I like it.



  1. youthfulhysteria
    January 8, 2017 / 2:43 pm

    I love this! As a fellow 21-year-old non-drinker (who did also used to drink) I can totally empathise with being branded “boring” and “weird” just because I don’t enjoy drinking and I accept that it’s not helpful for my mental health. Like you, I am surrounded by people who enjoy a drink and see nothing wrong with this, it’s just not for me.

    Keep being you gurl, you’re doing a bloody great job of things as you are! x

  2. Nicole
    January 8, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    I loved this post. I also don’t drink. I’m a bit younger, 18. But even now people find it odd that I don’t drink and didn’t go out partying for my birthday. Like you, i don’t drink because of my mental health but also because it’s not just my thing and there is nothing wrong with that.


  3. January 8, 2017 / 5:35 pm

    I’m 23, and I’ve never had a drink in my life. I’ve always felt like such an outcast because of it, but I grew to love that this is who I am. Keep doing you!

  4. January 8, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    I’m so glad someone else feels the same way! I drink occasionally but hardly ever. People think it’s weird, especially my boyfriend’s family as they’re all big drinkers. They think that for some reason it’s not possible to celebrate or have fun unless you’re drinking alcohol and that’s simply not true. You do you girl and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  5. Rachel Rogers
    January 8, 2017 / 11:29 pm

    As always, a wonderful post, Han! I stopped drinking for ages for the main reason. Now it’s an occasional thing, like the odd glass of wine. You should be so proud of how far you come, I personally find looking forward to the weekend so you can get wasted quite boring! Much rather my life as it is….home every weekend that I’m not working with tea, ryan and a movie!

    Rachel of Rachel Rambling On

  6. oawoodward
    January 9, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Okay this is literally like you looked into my soul! I’m 21, and although I do drink, I rarely get drunk, and I’ve not been out to a club since I was 19. I got engaged this Christmas, and honestly I’m more interested in saving for my wedding and also a house deposit than I am in going out or travelling. I spend my weekends blogging, watching telly with my fiance, and going to National Trust properties!

    I spent a lot of time binge drinking, going out, and going to parties when I was 15 – 18, so I’m kinda over it now.

    Liv // petticoatsandpatriarchy.com

  7. January 10, 2017 / 11:26 am

    I didn’t drink at my 21st (nor my 18th) and I had an absolute blast…. best part of all… I remembered all of it. Drinking has never been part of my social life, I’ve maybe gotten drunk a handful of times in my life and I’m nearly 30 but I’ve seen what alcohol does to people, I’d rather have no part of that.
    You’re definitely not boring because you don’t drink – if anything it makes you less boring because you don’t need to drink to have a good time 🙂

  8. January 11, 2017 / 1:10 am

    I don’t what it is with drinking and people feeling like it’s a need in life. I don’t drink because I have a family history of addiction, take mental health meds and have super anxiety around drunk people. Loving all your content by the way.

  9. January 11, 2017 / 10:20 am

    I don’t think you are boring just because you don’t fall in the mold of drinkers, quite on the contrary, you are interesting because you don’t need an artificial poison that is alcohol to make you talk. Be the rebel, you, don’t let anyone dictate what you should or not for fun or your life. Follow your heart, your conscience and if that means no drinking and prioritizing, so be it !

    I also find it offensive when people say stuff like that ; in fact, I find it offensive what people do when they drink (rude, loud, gawking, loosing one’s grip with common decency, become aggressive, or sick, and so many other actions).

    I’m ok with responsible, infrequent drinking where people don’t expect everyone to follow.

    Lastly, as someone who saw a person die from alcohol (and smoking and bad diet) related cancers, I had chosen not to drink myself a few years ago. because I knew I had the potential to become just as a bad alcoholic, and didn’t want to aggravate my already precarious mental health. I never regretted this choice, tho I would eat something that has been cooked with wine (since the alcohol evaporates).

    All in all, I want to end my comment by congratulating you on being responsible and doing what’s right for you, it shows your maturity and self-care.

  10. Matt
    January 12, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    Despite now being 30, I came to a similar conclusion a few years ago about drinking. It was actually training for a marathon that put me on the idea of giving up drinking, but I found a sense of clarity with it as well. I’ve never been able to drink a lot anyway but I was always one of those types who would just go quiet and sit in the corner of the room after having too much and that’s not something I enjoyed at all.

    The only time I’ve not stuck with this was at my friend’s stag do last year and I really didn’t feel good about it both physically and mentally but felt like it was the ‘done thing’. I’m getting married later this year and have every intention of seeing it through despite what everyone around me may expect.

  11. January 13, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    Go you! It took me 11 years after my 20th birthday to realise I actually hate alcohol. And I no longer need to use it to be a more sociable self. To fit in. To write myself off. To stumble home at 3am with a stranger, or wake up in their bed. To spend the whole next day on the couch watching crap TV and eating pizza. You’re an inspiration to younger women…I wish I’d read this when I was young age. Well done on being YOU and living according to your values. xx

  12. Hannah
    January 24, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    I relate to this so badly. I work in an industry where EVERYONE wants to go for a drink after work and I’m fine when I actually drink, so long as it’s not too much because I take antidepressants and their not good to mix. It’s the hangover though that affects my mental health the worst. I get anxious and I generally feel depressed for 2-3 days after. It’s hard to explain to others and generally people don’t just want to hangout or go for food. They want to go on a big night out and I hate feeling like the only one not drinking. Thank you for speaking out about this x

  13. February 3, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    You’re not on your own with this one. I’m 24 and stopped drinking around 3 years ago. I’ve had about 3 drinks in this time out of wanting to see if I could relax around alcohol again, and found myself hating the stuff even more.
    I don’t drink caffeine or alcohol for the same reason, it makes my mental health ten times worse. I get judged all the time, especially since living in Wales as it’s a big thing here. Maybe one day I will go on a night out and have everyone be completely accepting of it. Who knows, maybe one day.


  14. Lisa
    April 24, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    This is such a great post! Good for you for not bowing down to social and societal pressures and speaking out on the effects it can have on mental health. I don’t think you’re boring at all! Although I do/will drink, I don’t feel the need to do it frequently or in large quantities. I’m quite happy to have a glass of wine with friends every now and then, and even that’s weird to some people. Why do people have to question every little thing people do – that doesn’t even involve them!

    Lisa | http://www.abadvegan.co.uk

  15. June 3, 2017 / 9:11 am

    I can relate to you so much in this post! I was the same I used to drink but I stopped as it really wasn’t worth it and I would rather put my money into other things I’m also turning 21 soon and the last thing I want to do is get so drunk and forget what even happened, so I won’t be drinking on my 21st either great post!

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