Thought Catalog

Party Girl’s Guide To Being Sober

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Having a friend who doesn’t drink is a fairly common thing. Maybe they’re just over the party scene, or maybe their relationship with alcohol got a little out of control and they had to re-think their lifestyle.

I don’t fit into either of these categories. After drinking like a fish for my first two years of college, my body decided that alcohol was no longer an option for me. My party girl lifestyle was sidelined for reasons that I (and my doctors) couldn’t figure out. To this day I have to tell people that I’m “allergic” to alcohol because I can’t piece together any other explanation.

That was over three years ago. I spent the first six months in denial, still attempting to drink and refusing to accept this inconvenient truth. The drinking games, the crazy late nights, the irresponsible decisions; it was all a world I still wanted to be a part of. After a good stint of wallowing in self-pity and mourning the loss of my liver, I pulled myself out of it and started to assimilate to a sober lifestyle.

I learned a lot of pretty obvious lessons in the cruel light of sobriety. Some friendships I assumed to be rock solid were really based on a mutual appreciation of getting plastered. Some people are absolutely unbearable when they’re drunk. And I’ve made some very, very poor decisions when it comes to men. But I also learned that it’s possible to go out and have an awesome time without alcohol involved, as cliché as it sounds. And today, I can even venture to say that some of my craziest nights have been substance-free. Because it’s really not about the booze, is it? Sometimes you just need to get completely obliterated, but that’s not the real, inherent motive behind drinking. It’s the possibility of meeting someone new, doing something crazy, and letting loose. We all like acting like idiots and making regrettable decisions; who’s to say being sober has to keep us from doing that? I’m not saying that it’s easy, but if you’re really ready to commit, it’s definitely achievable. In tackling a sober night out, these tips may help you still have a night for the record books.

1. Always have a drink in your hand, always.

I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’re at a house party, you better be holding that red cup. If you’re at a bar, ask them for your drink in a small glass — not those conspicuous giant water cups. My favorite drink is club soda and lime disguised as a gin and tonic. Holding a glass is the ultimate safety blanket, and a great way to avoid people trying to buy you drinks.

2. Let yourself get excited to go out.

Put on your go-to pump-up music while you’re getting ready. Look awesome. Bring your A-Game. The anticipation is half the fun.

3. Don’t make a big deal about being sober.

Don’t lead by telling someone you’re not drinking. In fact, don’t tell people at all (this should not be a problem if you follow rule #1 religiously). If you’re put in a position where someone is literally putting a shot down your throat, say you’re driving later, or you’ve already had way too much.

4. Caffeine is your best friend.

Get a buzz of your own going. A few diet cokes deep and I’m chatting up a storm, forgetting that I’m sober altogether. I’ve even had people tell me that they think I’ve had one too many.

5. Be your most ridiculous self.

People can get uncomfortable around sober people because they’re not prone to ridiculous behavior. Give in to the atmosphere and let loose — the only one stopping you from having an awesome time is yourself.

6. Surround yourself with positive people.

I love my friends because they’re the kind of people who immediately storm an empty dance floor like it’s nobody’s business. Hanging out with people who are super self-conscious or who need alcohol to have a good time are people you have no business being around anyways. By surrounding yourself with positive people, you’ll effortlessly play off their energy.

7. Don’t be a wallflower.

Being sober doesn’t mean you have to sit out on the fun. Play beer pong with water or your “mixed drink.” Get involved. Opting out only draws attention to yourself in a negative way.

8. Take initiative.

In some ways I overcompensate for being sober by acting a little more daring than I would otherwise. Go up and talk to that guy. What have you got to lose? If the truth comes out they’ll be impressed by your initiative, and probably even respect you a lot more for it. An aggressive drunk girl is pathetic; an aggressive sober girl is interesting.

9. Don’t be a babysitter.

Being the sober one at the party doesn’t mean you’re obligated to keep tabs on everyone else’s alcohol consumption. If your friends can’t hold their shit together, it’s not your problem. You’re out to have fun for yourself. Never make the mistake of treating sobriety like a chore.

10. Just say “yes.”

Tear up the dance floor, take up the invite to that sketchy after-party, go in for the kiss, and let your judgment get a little clouded. By taking risks and putting yourself in ridiculous situations, you’ll still get those stories and experiences you love recounting years down the road. TC mark

image – Shutterstock
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  • Sam

    why are number 7 and 8 switched?

    • mas

      she was drunk

  • Alyssa

    All 100% true from my experience as well!

  • M.A.

    ah I kind of appreciate this. just as someone who is concerned with their ridiculous alcohol consumption. and not just “someone” but like, definition party girl. but you’re right, I have gone out sober before when I was taking anti-biotics and I can’t believe how epic & crazy my night was. I was in a sweaty mosh pit with a bunch of dancing fucked up bros, dancing my ass off and had so much fun letting loose to the music regardless. anyway yeah, nice post :)

    • M.A.

      people *thought* I was FUCKED lol… nope!

  • jacqueline

    Thanks for writing this! I had an encounter with the law on two occasions after drinking – while not drunk – it was still terrifying and definitely made me rethink my decision-making even when just tipsy. I quit drinking numerous times as per my parents request when I was a teenager and it took a while to figure out it wasn’t that i had a drinking problem, but more that the people I was with were a bad influence problem. So while I do drink (on occasion) now, I’ve been the party turned sober girl and it’s not that bad when you get over the stigma of it. I laughed at #1 because when I DD it’s my absolute first rule. Even one drink and driving with my body is NOT okay. And I definitely understand that stupid inane pressure from all sides to drink, for pretty much no reason – just social lubrication. Cheers to you for putting it into perspective for the party kids out there!

  • rach

    #11 just do drugs

    lol jk…

  • Sher

    It seems like the overall message here is party sober, but pretend to be drunk. Which I disagree with. Of course you should and can have fun, and if wild and daring is your thing then by all means do it, but doing something stupid or silly or ‘out there’ just because you’re at a party doesn’t mean that you’ve proved you can have fun while being sober, it means you’re being fake. At least when the drunk person does something wild it’s something they thought was a genuinely good idea at the time, even if it wasn’t. And going to the sketchy after party isn’t a smarter decision because your sober, you’re still at a sketchy after party. The only things that seemed like legitimately good ideas were 2, 6, 9, and the tagline of 7.

    And I definitely mean no disrespect, I just think that somewhere along the way you lost the message of “you can still have fun while being sober at the party.”

    • Gregor Samsa

      I agree. I like some of the points of the article, such as that you can still get loose and dance and meet new people when you aren’t drinking, but the overall moral of the story seems to be that you don’t have to put alcohol in your body in order to still be considered a wild drunk chick who makes bad decisions. It even posits that you should go out of your way for others to still think you’re drinking drinking drunk. I’ve gone out some nights amid a torrent of drinking buddies without a drop just because I wanted to socialize and couldn’t or didn’t want to drink. To avoid pressure, I’ve tried just pretending–but it doesn’t work for very long. Also, it’s pretty deceptive to be doing a bunch of crazy shit under the guise of being drunk when in fact you’re completely sober once anyone (and most people will) wise up to the act. It’s a great initiative, but just accept it and let others accept it too. If anything, most will find it honorable or endearing, or even by inspired by you.

  • Jessica

    Thank you, thank you! I loved this.

  • Josh

    I’ve been stone cold sober at a festival going crazy in a mosh and had people tell me that my pupils were huge and I had taken too many pills

  • theclairemarie

    The exact same “medical mystery” happened to me in almost an identical way. Doctors swore there was a real issue, which they promised to get to the bottom of, but there were never any answers. I take that back, one doctor did tell me that I must have an Asian gene that lacks the ability to process alcohol. This was just another guess, of course. I am glad to know it’s not just me, that others also have an unexplainable and sudden ‘allergy’. Wish we had some answers, though :)

  • Guest

    amazing. needed this after 5 months of medically imposed sobriety.

  • jacqueline

    by the time anyone realizes youre sober theyre wasted, lol. admitting that you’re sober early on is setting yourself up for having obnoxious drunk people try to coax you into drinking for the rest of the night/make you feel bad for not drinking.

  • HOH

    “An aggressive drunk girl is pathetic; an aggressive sober girl is interesting.” <—— mind. blown.

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