Standing Out Sober

Soraya Roberts relates the difficulties of being a non-drinker in a culture where drinking “is a rite of passage”:

A high school friend of mine who now lives in Edinburgh said that after she stopped drinking she had a “general feeling of ‘left-outness.’” “I’m pretty sure I don’t get invited to gatherings because I don’t drink,” she explained. My friends neither leave me out nor seem to mind drinking when I’m around, but I do sometimes feel like being a half-Pakistani in Toronto is less exotic than being sober. I am more often than not the virgin at the orgy, a quaint and prized object of interest. Seen as untainted, pure, I become the ideal to which those around me pretend to strive, defending their pint count and regaling me with tales of their own brief spells of sobriety.