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How to avoid peer pressure at university

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Alcohol is a big part of the typical university experience. And unfortunately for anyone who doesn’t drink, it looks unlikely to change anytime soon.

Most societies now offer “dry” events, and some are even designed so drinking is excluded. But it can still feel strange if you can’t be a part of the many drink-fuelled nights that permeate social calendars across the country. If you truly want to be a part of the society and university experience, you’ll have to tag along. Sober.

A nightmare

This may sound terrifying for anyone who’s had to suffer through being the sober friend – memories of greasy kebabs, crying friends and the ubiquitous puke stains have probably sprung to mind, all in chillingly clear HD thanks to the fact you weren’t slowly destroying your body via vodka. One of the worst parts can be the peer pressure that you can feel like you’re being subjected to.

Times are changing

Luckily, times are changing – it’s becoming easier and easier to not drink and still be social. When it comes to sports societies, you can easily just attend the sports-based side of things and avoid the socials – alternatively, turn up and stick to non-alcoholic drinks. If anyone tries to force you to drink, just tell them you don’t. If they continue to pressure you, they probably aren’t worth talking to, and most execs will make efforts to include everyone, not just those with iron livers.

Stay comfortable

When it comes to drinking in a purely social context, the same should hold true. Turn up with whatever you feel comfortable drinking and feel free to get involved and take part in everything. If anyone tries to pressure you to drink, politely and firmly decline – just because you don’t have to drink to have fun, it doesn’t mean you’re boring. Similarly, try not to act superior about staying teetotal. If you can’t hide your smugness, then you’ll find yourself invited to things less and less.

What you have to remember is that university is whatever you make it. If you want to hole up in the library for three years, then go for it. Similarly, if you want to enjoy all the social side of university has to offer without sousing it in spirits, don’t be afraid to stand up and say so. Anyone who only wants to be your friend when you drink probably isn’t worth talking to, and there’s no point wasting time on that sort of people when there’s bound to be swathes of friendly and open-minded people milling around campus.

Struggling to cope with peer pressure at university? Tell us about your experiences below.

Photo: Kimery Davis / Flickr

Nicholas BuxeyHow to avoid peer pressure at university

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