The Upside of Being Underage

Lately I’ve been pretty salty about a couple of uninvited invitations that all happened because I’m not 21. Of course I completely understand matters of legal haphazard and strife, but considering my personal commitment to loving the sober lifestyle the uninvited aspect just stings a little bit.

As a senior on track to graduate in less than four months, every friend I can think of in my major and outside of it participates in these awesome events – together. From sophisticated wine sampling to mingling celebrations at breweries to even the hilariously awesome party bus full of recent grads that happen to be friends with my boyfriend, I’m again (and again) too young to participate and my invitation has been relentlessly revoked given the discovery of my age.

But I’ve decided to look at the upside of things – honestly, it’s probably a good thing that I won’t have legal access to the nightlife of undergraduate studies. Not only has my health benefited from my excruciating fear of any legal consequences, so has my future. So here goes: yet another list written by yours truly.

The Upside of Being Underage

1. It’s not a bad thing to drink, and it’s not a bad thing to not-drink.

I grew up in a household that never touched or even talked about alcohol, ever. It was kind of seen as toxic and the cause of destruction, almost to the level of a sin. I respect my parents for not bringing it into the house and their decision that stood for as long as I could remember, but it sent me into the world thinking that alcohol is evil and that people who drink it are even worse. But alcohol isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just how people chose to use it and often over-do it. But on the other side, just not drinking alcohol isn’t a huge deal – it’s not anything to fret about. For me, it’s a lifestyle choice. Just because I can, doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to.

2. Sleeping is crucial, and drinking could seriously affect that.

I’ve nourished my body with hours of sleep that others dedicate to this nighttime lifestyle so I can wake up for 8 am classes and my internship, allowing me to be mindfully present in my learning and in assisting clients. Think about it this way: if you go out to Tiff’s on Thursdays, Sally’s on Fridays, O’Gs on Saturdays, spend birthday Tuesdays at the Onion, and host wine night on Wednesdays, that’s 5/7 nights of alcohol fueled fun. Even if you don’t drink like me, having those late nights really adds up and even one or two nights of fun could dramatically impact your sleep. For young adults (ages 18-25), 7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation with minimum at 6: every night your sleep dips below seven hours, your body compounds the stress on itself and might even try to start shutting down. I dip below 7 hours at least once per week, and I couldn’t imagine the stress my body would feel if I added going out to that serious hit to sleeping time.

3. Skinny girls that drink stay skinny by adding alcohol into their diets, and eating less food.

It’s true: your diet could literally consist of hotdogs, mac and cheese, and beer – so long as you stay within a fixed calorie range, you can maintain or even lose weight. However, these foods don’t provide your body with the essentials it needs to function well. Even consumed modestly, having any alcohol at all means the potential to have less of a nutritional type of food elsewhere in the daily diet.

4. Not drinking gives you an opportunity to learn how to have fun without the assistance of substances.

I’m not knocking anyone who drinks for fun! Social drinking is social drinking for a reason, but I think being sober in a mix of a tipsy to moderately drunken crowd is something that most people feel awkward doing. Not drinking and always being the sober ride home really taught me how to use the opportunity for my advantage, to learn how to have a bunch of fun without the pounding hangover the next day and consequent-free. It’s a life-long skill that is entirely useful.

5. Being substance-free helps optimize those countless sessions spent sweating away at the gym.

Keeping your body free of substances that it has to break down and detox from, like alcohol or marijuana, provides your body more time to focus on muscle reparations and healing itself to make it more strong and limber.

6. You save so much money.

I’ve seen so many people blow anywhere from $20-$50, and even much more, on a single night at a single bar in the Twin Cities and surrounding area. And, that’s on drinks alone without including other expenses like Uber, outfits, and pregame booze. I mean, in today’s fast pace of life where time is money, you don’t waste hours standing outside (often in the frozen winters of Minnesota) waiting in line to get into your average college bar.

7. You quite literally save face.

Alcohol both dehydrates the body and with regular drinking, definitely contributes to the physical appearance of aging like wrinkles. Although anti-aging products and moisturizers really do help, the best anti-aging product is simply staying away from things that catalyze the process like alcohol and sun exposure.

8. You can take time to form authentic, long-lasting relationships.

There are so many people, especially in college, that form friendships out of convenience. Those people drop you as soon as you stop doing what they’re doing whether it’s a friendship from being in the same class or just always going out together. Real, authentic friendships totally could form from activities like this, but they move beyond the basic convenience. I’ve found, I guess quite anecdotally, that real friendships rarely form from bar-life convenience. Deep talks have a way of happening off of the dance floor and the best friendships I’ve created during my college years have been founded without the help of alcohol, interestingly enough.

And so, that’s it.

I’ve learned how to take a stand and stick with it. I’ve learned how to appreciate everyone from all walks of life; I’ve learned how to not be so judgmental and I’ve learned how to love so many more things. So that’s it, until next time!

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