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“Live your life how you want but don’t confuse drama with happiness” -Ron Swanson

Although this is a quote from a fictional character, the first time I heard it, it hit me hard. For a good portion of my teenage years I thought I was ‘weird’. ‘Weird’ really isn’t the correct description but it’s the only word I can think of to describe how I thought of  myself in that moment. I suppose I felt I was outside whatever circle I imagined the majority of people was in. I had plenty of friends and got on well with people in general. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was a little bit introvert. To be honest I dislike that word mostly because I don’t believe you can just slot people into just two boxes; introvert or extrovert. I think everyone has a little bit of both. But anyway, I forever found myself bored by nightclubs and going out to get plastered (drunk). For some reason the thought of getting your eardrums blasted out while struggling to talk with friends and by the end of the night unable to stand really never enticed me. I got bored thinking about it. I never did the whole underage drinking mostly because of personal things I had seen growing up at home. Drunk people continue to make me feel uncomfortable and uneasy. I didn’t like the idea of being so vulnerable like that either. Even when I did start drinking at 19 I got tired of that scene very fast. I couldn’t explain it, it just bored me. And I know bored seems like a very pretentious word to use, and I don’t mean to sound like that but it was just how that whole scene made me feel. Maybe my previous experiences with alcohol had drained enough of that zeal for drinking before I even started drinking myself.

I quickly discovered that I preferred meeting with friends for dinner or at a café or doing some kind of recreational activity. I’d drink, but only one or two. A lovely Spanish girl who worked with me in a café would suggest we’d go for drinks after work but again it would be one or two, no more. Her culture was different to mine in approach to drinking which was a breath of fresh air. Even a French woman I had known would speak about drinking at home with friends rather than going out to get drunk in France. This relaxed approach to drinking, in a quiet pub, I enjoyed so much more. So I’m not adverse to drinking it just never appealed to me in large quantities. That and I’m a complete lightweight. I prefer to drink alcohol I like, and to actually enjoy it. In Ireland it’s not easy to escape the alcohol-heavy culture and I’d often think I was missing out when I’d hear friends recount stories of amazing, exciting nights out, that often, they could only remember bits of. I remember thinking “That’s happiness, not what I do”. That brings me back to Ron Swanson’s words; “Don’t confuse drama with happiness”. Those kinds of stories don’t always recount a night well spent and are often more bundled up in drama rather than happiness. That quote made me reconsider that there are different types of happiness, and that wasn’t mine. It just so happened that the culture that surrounded me promoted that kind of idea of happiness as the ideal happiness. In other cultures, moderate drinking with friends in a relaxed environment was the ideal.

This has forced me to realise that it’s not a bad thing if that kind of a night out doesn’t appeal to me. It hasn’t been easy to come to terms with that but I slowly have. Getting more involved in recreational activities has helped and generally just doing more of the things that I was interested in. Really I wish Ireland wasn’t such a drink-obsessed culture. There has to be a happy medium in there surely. Thankful the friends I have acquired are completely fine with this and we go out and meet up but not to drink ourselves in to oblivion, at least not me.



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