If You’ve Ever Dreamed Of Giving Up Going Out & Drinking — Read This
When I say I don’t drink the most common question I get is:
I usually just say, “I hate being hungover.”
People usually understand that. They laugh, and say, “Yeah, me too.”
And while that isn’t entirely a lie, it’s not entirely true either. Like everyone, I hate being hungover. But that’s not why I gave up drinking.
I gave up drinking because I believe, deep down in my soul, that I am a better person when I choose San Pelligrino over Jose Cuervo. And my number one goal in life is to be the best possible person I can be (as much as possible).
It came to a head a few years ago when my mom died.
Life became predictably more difficult.
I started doing a lot of inner work to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. I was relentless at slashing activities and people out of my life that I didn’t think served me.
It took awhile, but eventually, drinking got the ax, too.
I had this realization one day that I would never do what I was capable of doing if I stayed connected to the “old me.” So, I simply decided that when I moved to Los Angeles every new person I met would be introduced to “sober Kate” not “life-of-the-frat-party-Kate.”
With the exception of a few drinks in the last two years (all can be counted on a hand) — I’ve stuck to being “sober Kate.” Anyone who knew me in college would be baffled by this fact.
Which brings me to the next question I get over and over again:
How on earth did you do that? I could never…
Sure you could. You just need a big enough reason to give it up.
My reasons were huge.
For one, drinking made my grieving process harder, not easier. It made me feel guilty and shameful to some extent — that I should be spending my time doing things that mattered while I was lucky enough to be alive.
But more importantly, I was convicted in the belief that I needed to do something with my grief — that I needed to become someone and do something BIG because of it [see: www.thegoalofgrief.com].
Drinking was out of alignment with that vision. So, I dropped it. Simple as that.
I began linking way more pain to being out of control or hungover than missing out on a few hours buzzing with my friends.
And so, staying convicted was easy.
Being honest about it, though? That was awkward as hell.
This one time, when a waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, I literally blurted out, “I actually don’t drink!” in an uncalled-for, elevated tone when a simple, “Water, please,” would have sufficed.
I pretended to drink at company gatherings, literally pouring tequila into my cup and then throwing it out and filling another cup with water. I did the same with beer bottles. And I poured my fair share of wine down kitchen sinks and threw numerous shots out over my shoulder.
Eventually, I got over my fears of being questioned and just started being honest about it. Just ordering a club soda instead. Just saying “no thank you” to a round of shots. Just telling the truth.
And I can tell you now, I’m better for these experiences.
So many people tell me that they wish they could give up drinking.
That they could just quit cold-turkey.
But it’s the social aspect that stops them from trying. The fear that they won’t have any friends left or anything to do on the weekends. They won’t know how to interact with colleagues or find dates.
You know what I say to that? If you really want to do it, you’ll do it. Right now, you’re conflicted (and that’s okay). There’s nothing wrong with drinking (or being conflicted).
But there is something wrong with living in a cycle of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and guilt.
If drinking is the cause of this for you, then here’s what you need to do to stop:
- Link MASSIVE pain to continuing. Picture yourself as an old, miserable person with a huge beer gut. See all the dreams that are going to pass you by if you continue. Figure out what it’s going to cost you in your finances, career, and relationships. And then fully feel it.
- Build a vision for what’s possible. If you really want to give up drinking, then you need to find things that you want to invest your time in. You have to completely dismantle the belief that drinking is a source of pleasure. You need to create a vision for yourself that is worth working towards — and start. There’s no use in giving up drinking if you’re just going to watch TV with that time instead.
- Realize you can’t rely on sobriety changing your whole life for you. Your life changes when you change. When you make consistent, better, and different decisions. That may start with the external world and bleed into other areas, but you have to continue improving for your life to improve. Giving up drinking may make you feel better for awhile, but it won’t change your whole life.
- Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Your ego is going to hurt for awhile in social situations. You may feel the need (as I did) to overcompensate from time to time. You are going to have to break through a threshold of discomfort. Prepare ahead of time for that and think about how you’ll handle it.
- Don’t attach your identity to sobriety. If you don’t have a problem with alcoholism, it’s actually okay to have a sip of a cocktail here and there. Don’t become so wrapped up in being sober that you forget to be spontaneous and fun-loving. That’s the worst thing that could come of this.
But here’s the other thing, I don’t give a flying fart if you drink, smoke, or trip every day.
I’ve had so many people voice a substantial level of discomfort with the idea of my seemingly uncalled-for sobriety.
They feel as though its a call to action or a judgment on their choice to drink, smoke, or whatever else.
It’s not. For these two reasons:
#1: Choosing not to drink doesn’t make me better than anyone else. The last thing we need in this world is more people out here acting all self-righteous about the arbitrary decisions they’re making. Going with or against the grain doesn’t make you or I better. Being a loving person does. I love you for you. All of you.
#2: I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Being in a moment with the people that I’m with, drunk or not, is beautiful. I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on some important layer of this shared experience by refusing the Fireball. You don’t have to feel bad for me. You don’t have to feel like we aren’t connecting because you’re drinking and I’m not.