1. There was a period of time in your life when every night out seemed to end at 4 a.m. no matter what. It wasn’t seen as being a big deal either. Like, duh, of course you’re not going to go home till the bars close. Is there an alternative? Also, you had endless amounts of energy. You were never tired and even if you were, you could always power through it. You never surrendered to fatigue, are you kidding? Now, when you think of those nights, you immediately get flashbacks of a hangover and think, “How did I do that? Also, how did my party mentality change so quickly? I thought my thirties were my time to be a grandma, not 26.”
2. You’re picky about the kind of alcohol you drink. Recently, I was at a house party and I saw some dude just take giant swigs of whiskey out of a bottle. When I turned to my friend, I asked her, “Um, what is that guy doing?” and she responded, “Oh, he’s 21,” which explained everything. One of the major differences in drinking at 21 versus, well, any other subsequent age is that you actually have had time to find alcohol you enjoy. Since you can’t possibly get wasted every time you drink, you have to stick to what you like. Today I don’t venture much outside of wine. In the summer, I’ll drink margaritas and in the winter, I’ll have hot toddies but that’s about as adventurous I’ll go. If I must, I’ll get a gin and a tonic because, for some reason, I can’t seem to ever get drunk off of them so it’s a safe choice. Plus, I like that gin tastes like you’re licking a battery. Oops!
3. You drink more often than you did in college but you have less amounts. So, for example, in college I probably drank two to three nights a week but when I did, I would get WASTED. Like, puking in my apartment at 6 a.m. and losing my underwear wasted. Now, I probably drink five nights a week but I usually only have one or two drinks. I used to make fun of people who came home after a long day at work and were like, “I need to have a glass of wine to take the edge off!” but now I totally get it. Having one glass of wine just makes you feel normal again, which is sort of #dark but real nonetheless.
4. Again, seriously, nothing makes it more resoundingly clear that you can’t party like you used to than drinking with anyone who’s 21 or younger. You think you’re cool, you think you can hang, and then you spend some time with a college student and realize that you’re a fucking wimp when it comes to boozing — which, I mean, thank God. As fun as it was to be a borderline alcoholic for four years, it was also incredibly painful physically, emotionally, and occasionally sexually.
5. You seriously start to worry about your looks. When a friend asks you why you can’t come to an all-night rager, you simply send them a picture of Lindsay Lohan circa today and write, “Because I don’t want this to happen to me.”
6. Part of the reason why you went out so much and partied was because you suffered from Fear Of Missing Out or, as some people like to call it, F.O.M.O. As you get older, however, you realize that the only thing you miss out on after 2 a.m. is someone calling their coke dealer and a woman in a cupcake dress with smeared eye makeup crying in the bathroom.
7. You have hangovers that are sort of unreal. It didn’t used to be this bad but now whenever you have four or five drinks, you can pretty much guarantee that the next day is going to be entirely deleted. It used to be fun spending your entire day in bed hungover watching Netflix and ordering Seamless but now it’s just depressing. To feel better, you’ll sit in the shower for an inordinate amount of time and let the water wash over you, feeling like a total screw up. It’s a steep price to pay for one night of so-called fun.