Anna and her friends

Courage From One of Our Own

Reflections from Freshman Year

Starting college can be scary. Everyone is trying their best just to fit in – and a lot of people choose to fit in by drinking alcohol. I wasn’t one of those people. I went through my entire freshman year of college without drinking. But I wasn’t always comfortable sharing my choice to be alcohol free. At every party, I would carry around a bottle of water, Vitamin Water Zero Lemonade, or Gatorade Lime Cucumber, all of which looked like vodka or a weird concoction of alcohol. I would play along with people who guessed I was drinking because I thought I was the only person on campus who didn’t drink. I would peel the labels off my water, Vitamin Water, or Gatorade and pretend to be drunk, because I thought that was how to fit in.

On Halloween weekend, I went to a party. It was really loud inside, so I walked out onto the deck of the house and met Bryan (a stranger at the time who now is a friend). He looked at my water bottle and asked “Straight vodka? You’re hardcore!” I told him it was just water because I don’t drink. We talked for a while that night about how he wished that he had the strength not to drink. He was the first person to tell me that he respects the fact that I don’t drink, but he wasn’t the last! When I opened up to people about my choice to be alcohol free, the reactions by teammates, friends, coaches – even random people I met at parties – surprised me. They told me they respected me for not drinking.

Through all of my experiences during my freshman year of college, I learned that instead of being ashamed that I don’t drink, I should be proud of my decision. I am sure there are more people at my college who don’t drink. They may be carrying around a bottle of water or drinking Vitamin Water Zero Lemonade that I assumed was alcohol. As I head into my sophomore year, I will look beyond the label.

Anna Kedjidjian
Randolph-Macon College, Class of 2021
Deerfield High School, Class of 2017

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