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.