Drinking in college is not a must

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am a college student who doesn't drink. I was raised in a very religious family, and it was instilled in me not to drink until I turn 21. My roommate drinks and pressures me to drink. She and my other friends never invite me out because they think I will be no fun. They don't even give me a chance to show them that I can be fun and not drink! One night I gave in and had a few sips of alcohol. All of a sudden my roommate was inviting me to parties. When I went, I felt very uncomfortable, yet at the same time, people were finally accepting me. A few people came up to me and told me that until that night they didn't want to hang out with me because they thought I was too uptight.

Is it wrong to change what I believe in so that I can have a common bond with my new friends? I'm so torn on what to do -- drink occasionally and have some friends, or stick to what I believe in and sit in my dorm room alone while my friends are getting drunk. What should I do?Torn

DEAR TORN: The job of the older teen/young adult is to try to answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want? The most important guiding principle is that you cannot let other people define you.

Ultimately, true friendships are all about authenticity and the possibility of being accepted for your true self.

By all means, go to parties and have fun without drinking. I assure you, as your friends get more drunk, you will either seem more hilarious, or they will become more belligerent and bullying. Your sobriety will put you at an advantage because you will still possess the ability to discern the difference.

Many universities now offer "clean living" dorms/communities. You should apply for a slot. You may not form friendships with every sober person you meet, but at the very least you will not be unfairly judged for having the integrity to live according to your values.