Before you brush this off as one of those holier-than-thou attempts to convince the general population that the consumption of alcohol is a sin beyond murder, hear me out; I promise this is the opposite of that.
I love drinking. A lot. I can guarantee I love drinking more than almost anyone I know, which led to my ultimate decision that I might be that clingy girlfriend in the relationship that revolves her life around her boyfriend, and that alcohol and I need a little time to re-evaluate what we want from our lives. That being said, my recent stints with abstinence in the good year 2013 have taught me a few little things about life, why not drinking so heavily in your early 20s really isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you, and if you want to lighten up on binging from the bottle for a bit, that it’s perfectly okay.
1. Waking up without hangovers, ever, might be the best thing to ever happen to you.
I’m serious. You might be thinking “Um, no, hangovers are definitely worth the fun,” but let me just put it out there that an early Sunday morning jog in the sun on a fresh day in October can really change your outlook on life for the whole week.
When every Saturday on the calendar was blocked off for “date with the bar,” these joyous little blips off happiness were never a thing. I definitely don’t miss the crawling out of bed at 1PM routine, desperate for a bottle of water or Gatorade (OR SOMETHING!) and moping around nauseated all afternoon unable to stomach anything but McDonalds or Spaghetti-o’s. Yeah, that isn’t really “living life to the fullest.”
2. Making goals and keeping them becomes far less of a struggle.
Ever made a goal to go on a diet for a month, only to break it by Thursday night because after Wine Wednesday your girlfriends “just really want to order Papa Johns” and in your drunken elated state you simply could not resist? And then again on Thursday? And Friday?
The whole “not being drunk 50% of your conscious (or arguably unconscious) life” thing keeps your goals in the front line of your mind and those uninhibited and intuitive desires in the back. Not to say that you won’t ever get hungry again (I have been known to be addicted to red velvet cupcakes in my sobriety), but the “my future” thoughts have more of a fighting chance against the “I want it now” ones.
3. You will be forced to become more responsible in admitting your own faults to yourself.
All those fun little “you-isms” that you used to be able to shove into the back of your consciousness are now there every day, all the time, reminding you of their existence. It was easy enough back then to freak out over that exam you just failed, then retreat back into the comfort zone where all the vodka lives, but now you have nowhere to hide.
The best way to work towards being at peace with these aspects of your persona that you were able to shield yourself from in the past is to simply accept them, slowly work on changing them (if you so desire) and to begin focusing on developing the optimal “you,” which is inarguably the best thing a person can do for themselves.
4. Not everyone is going to be supportive of your decision, and that’s ok.
You’ll have some people tell you how unbelievable proud they are of you, and you’ll have some people tell you they don’t think you can give up alcohol. You’ll even come across those fine human beings that might try and test your tenacity by attempting to trick you into drinking. What other people say or think doesn’t really matter, but ultimately, whether you want to tee total your little heart out or lush yourself into oblivion, it’s your choice.
5. For the former alcohol enthusiast, weight is far easier to maintain.
What? You’re telling me 1000 extra calories three times a week was making it impossible to shed those last 10 pounds?!
6. There’s more to life than working and partying.
The whole idea that alcohol is the only way to have fun fuels the mentality that when you’re not working, you’d better be drinking. Why does the Friday afternoon after work constitute “needing a beer” all on its own?
I’m not trying to be preachy and say Friday afternoon beers are not allowed, but the idea that life is only work, working out and fun in the form of drinking for this event or drinking for that thing with your friends is something that a lot of people in college and in their early 20s internalize, yet it really is not conducive to developing an interesting and fulfilled life.
7. Whichever choice you make, that alone does not define you.
One of the things that kept me from giving up alcohol initially is that I didn’t want to be “that girl” that didn’t drink. I cringe even visualizing myself having to say “Oh, no thanks, I don’t drink,” when a cute guy asks me if he can get me something.
In my mind, it seems pretentious and kind of condescending as if the world could not measure up to my holy ways of abstinence. The truth about it, though, is that one facet of one’s being can’t define a person entirely. The things you do on a daily basis are parts of your life and who you are is a combination of your personality, interests, choices, actions, dreams, goals, and much more.
Nothing could be more self-critical than thinking that you, your own self, are defined by one part of your life. The ultimate goal is to be the best version of yourself you can be, and if you feel like the only way to achieve that is to make choices that veer the path in that direction, then so be it.
8. There are a lot of people out there that are searching for the same things you are.
And you can trust me on that.