I'm turning twenty-seven this month and have never had a sip of alcohol. Nothing. I've trudged through every awkward party, spent romantic dinner wine-less, raised a glass of water for every toast, and endured the humiliation of ordering the swill that is generic bar cola. When people would ask my why I didn't drink, I always had some overly intellectualized, up-my-own ass answer. Something along the lines of, "I never relinquish the reins of my consciousness... bear the weight of the abyss on my own...". I'm a pretentious asshole. As I moved from studying philosophy to my vanity project of going to the gym, my answer laterally evolved, "I'm trying to eat purely out of utility. I'm cutting soda from my diet; I'm not sure there's a lot of room for alcohol in my life."

We act. In my case, that act is abstaining. Afterwards we are forced to give an explanation of our behavior. The truth is that we react in a moment and are forced to give it rational cohesion and meaning afterwards. Only afterwards. We are asked to justify ourselves. The truth is: someone offers me a drink and I decline. That's it. Everything else is an intellectual construction.

As I spend more and more of my life in bars and around people who drink, I am again forced to evaluate my alcoholic abstinence. Though it kills me to watch my brilliant companions rendered unrecognizable in their inebriation, perhaps the source of my chagrin is my refusal to leave behind this adolescent hang up. I've pushed it away for so long it feels like I've created an invisible wall between me and it. There is no wall; it lurks after every practice, during every dinner, and at every intermission. Its temptation is real.

While I previously enjoyed the sense of individuality and uniqueness that it offered, it now feels alienating. Everyone is having a pool party, and I'm the kid who refuses to take his shirt off.

My suspicion is that I abstain from drinking out of sheer habit. There is only one question that drives me: Is my behavior motivated from fear? Do I not drink from a place of fear? Or, is my steadfast refusal a gambit that strengthens my character?

Honestly I have no idea, but I will trust my heart. It tells me not to follow fear.

I just don't yet know what I'm afraid of.

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