Somehow, we started talking about the topic of drinking alcohol and parties. I talked a bit about how I have never enjoyed alcohol like my friends or brothers. I don't like the taste or the effects. The feeling of disorientation makes me nauseated and irritated. I'm constantly on guard in case my brothers pop out and tackle me (although they wouldn't do that now, the feeling is still there). So, I let my niece know how to have fun without compromising if she chose not to drink.
There is always that person who is needed as a chaperone. Someone who will make sure the intoxicated will make it home safe and help if the person drank too much and needs help with a bucket, water, and aspirin. I was always that person. I felt like I had a better control over myself and that I could ward off unwanted attention easier. I was much more concerned with my own protection than letting my hair down.
I had fun in my own way. I was able to listen to silly conversations, laugh with everyone else over some stupid act of innebriation, and be with friends. Thankfully, my friends never pushed me to drink when I said I didn't want to. They had trust in me to help them home and never trespassed on my generosity.
A few years later, when that chaperone was not needed because we weren't going somewhere, I felt awkward. I had different friends by then and I gave in to some drinking, but I never had the fun of my chaperone years. I felt like I was compromising something important, like I was giving up my dignity. That was a hard time in my life. I wish I could take those moments of stubbornness back and hold onto my shroud of self protection. No one ever took advantage of my lack of self control but it could have been easy to do so and I shudder at my vulnerability.
I'm hoping my niece will understand that there is much she can do to have fun without compromising herself. Peer pressure is difficult and for many a vulnerability.