It’s nearly Friday. You want to unwind, or better… clear your muddled brain from the work week by letting your inhibitions run wild. Maybe you’re the type that goes all out and desires the club scene, drinks, dancing, and staying out until the bars close, the bouncers nearly forcing you out. Or maybe you’re the kind that wants absolute, pure silence. The only noise to enter your eardrums will be Netflix spilling out of your tv speakers coupled with a bottle of wine.
It’s your best friends birthday, where do you start? Pregaming with beers, cocktail drinks, or a giant tub of jungle juice before exploring what the bars have to offer.
Perhaps you are going on a first date… “Would you like to get a few drinks over happy hour?”
A work party is coming up… employees bond over a bottle of champagne, beers or cocktails.
A friend gets married, toast with champagne!
Family from out of town come to visit, crack open a bottle of wine!
Your favorite football, basketball, soccer, Super Bowl game is on… Beers!
You graduated from college.. how do you celebrate? Local bar, house party, drinks!
And Concerts? Here comes the alcohol induced dancing and jumping like a goon
21st Birthday? Biggest celebration of a young adults life!
4th of July.. Celebrate Americas freedom with jello shots!
Vacation? Cocktails, beers, wine, Piña coladas, margaritas, Pacificos!
No wonder we tend to crave drinks in virtually every social situation. I mean honestly… when has anyone said;
“Hey, we should grab some appetizers sometime!”
“Last night was so crazy, I had a few too many salads and I’m paying for it today!”
That sentence has never been uttered. We have all of these fun celebrations in life, and alcohol seems to be the center of them all.
Now don’t get me wrong here… I am in no way saying alcohol is a product of the devil himself. I quite enjoy having a few drinks, (responsibly) and having a great time with friends. My question is, do you think that we are so accustomed to drinking when socializing that we associate drinking with having a crazy, good time?
Let me tell you, 10 months into the no-alcohol scene, and I’ve been opened up to an entirely different side to the consumption and the effects of alcohol. What I’ve noticed being sober when everyone else is intoxicated is:
- I am the official go-to DD (designated driver)
- I’ve noticed at an increasingly fast rate how well people can, or cannot hold their liquor
- Decisions are in fact, clouded
- Liquid confidence is a real thing
- Everyone is friends with everyone OR alternatively, fights with everyone
- You can immediately tell the social drinkers and the ones who use it as a crutch (more on this later)
- I’ve saved heaps of money and empty calories
- The longer I go without it, the less I feel like I want it
- Mistakes are still made, even without alcohol
- Less greasy hangover food
- No hangovers, ever
- You remember everything. No ‘blackout’, hard to retrieve, alcohol induced memory
If we look at all of the alluring media images of alcohol, there is no surprise to why we want it. We all crave a good time, and that’s what alcohol sells. Cool, fun, sexy, crazy, good times. And as mentioned before… Liquid confidence.
I dated a guy briefly who told me he felt he couldn’t go out without drinking, that he was naturally shy and that alcohol was the cure to becoming a fun, outgoing, carefree guy. And he’s not the only one, it’s easy to see why alcohol seems to be a source of comfort and enjoyment. Everyone else is drinking around you, and it is an easy agent to blame your ‘not-so-smooth’ personality from the night before; “I was so drunk, I don’t know what happened.”
It’s a scapegoat for nearly everything that didn’t work in your favor.
We have become so desensitized to the cheeky liquid, that it took me 10 months of not drinking to realize the effect it had on me and my social life. Being in my 20’s and trying to find new friends and potential dates in a new city without alcohol has made me feel a bit antisocial and frankly, similar to a prude 20 year old. Watching everyone else around me enjoy a delicious looking cocktail, cider or beer while I sip on my water has been interesting to say the least.
“I’ve come to realize alcohol is a social glue that binds us together, regardless of age, class, race, sex, beliefs or occupation, because most of us enjoy drinking. Offering someone a drink when they visit your home is not only welcoming, but also considered polite.”
On a positive note, I have been able to make friends solely off my personality and silly/stupid sense of humor. This past year has made me realize that I can go without drinking, and I’ve become aware of how the phenomenon of not drinking is mostly frowned upon by others, coupled with concerning faces from bartenders and friends when I say “Oh, I can’t drink right now.”
Many think it’s because I’m clearly a recovering alcoholic or that I have strict religious beliefs. But often I’ve gotten empathetic understandings of “I’m on year fill in the blank of sobriety” and I smile and congratulate them, even if my reasonings are not the same.
I have 16 more days until my best friend and I can have our first drinks together, celebrating her 100 days of being Leukemia FREE!
One more time… CANCER FREE! (insert smiling and clapping emoji’s)
I encourage my readers to try to go a full 3 weeks without having a drop of alcohol, see how your body reacts without it and begin to notice how prevalent alcohol truly is in our world. Notice it, be aware of it, and determine which has more control, your mind, the bottle, or pressure from society/friends around you. Go for that appetizer instead!!!
I’m excited to have my first drink again, but I will 100% remember how I feel without it. I have proven to myself that in fact, I don’t need it to be social, outgoing, fun and silly.
If I’ve learned anything from this experiment, it has been to remain confident, regardless if I am the only sober one in the room, and that unsubscribing from a prominent social life that I have always enjoyed participating in, is possible when it’s not about yourself. I will never understand what it feels like to go through rounds and rounds of chemo, to be poked and prodded with needles, experience a bone marrow transplant or to lose my hair. To be able to join my friend in giving up something we both enjoyed through this exhausting process for her (even if it has been as simple as alcohol), it is beyond worth it!
Cheers (literally) to my friend Megan and her surviving this journey. Love you Meg, I am so overwhelmingly proud of you!