I set out on a 30 day no drinking adventure on April 28 2019. I had just finished a wicked snowboard season full of mimosa’s, shot skies, and mid-slope fireball swigs. I was prepared for the ultimate challenge; one that would test my will power, my confidence, and the depths of my personality. Fun is in my soul, and ever since my days at Chico State alcohol has been the forefront of that fun. Somewhere in my mid twenties drinking had become the headliner on the main stage and other forms of entertainment were simply side acts. A sporadic few had begun to worry, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally ponder the issue, so I took the plunge. I documented my experience along the way, here is what I noticed and learned.
Day 4 – I drink for others, not myself. Almost immediately I recognized that I often drink to ensure that others around me have fun rather than choosing to do so out of my own desires. I actually realized this long before I started this journey; it’s the biggest reason I brushed off people’s concerns with my alcohol consumption. As you’ll find out on day 11, others people’s impression of me is highly correlated to my alcohol tolerance. If I’m not drinking I must not be having fun, and I more than anyone out there, hate party poopers. So to ensure the masses that I am in fact happy and loving the moment, I drink.
Day 5 – I love the bar scene. I spent my first weekend without alcohol bar hopping with a good friend of mine. We bopped around to bars that I frequented in grad school and even tried some new ones. I ordered mocktails and did shots of sprite – the experience wasn’t any less enjoyable and the energy was as contagious as ever. I love the bar scene with or without alcohol.
Day 6 – The placebo effect runs deep. Maybe its because wine has always been associated with relaxation in my life. Whatever the cause, whenever I sat down with a non alcoholic glass of wine and took a few sips … that deep exhale melt into the couch relaxation consumed me. It’s not the alcohol content, it’s the habit that provokes a mindset. It’s also worth mentioning that fake Rose isn’t half bad!
Day 8 – Alcohol IS entertainment. Planning to meet up with a friend for a drink is all the planning you need, the day or night naturally unfolds from there. Without that option I had to put more effort into my social gatherings – we had to find activities that correlated with our interests and the weather. What can you do in this town besides wine taste and go to happy hour? Having the option of an alcoholic beverage gives the interaction purpose, there’s always an underlying activity that accompanies the conversation. Without it I found myself wondering what to do with my hands. I found it more challenging to end or extend the outing.
Day 10 – I’m not skinnier and my wallet isn’t fatter. I swapped food for alcohol and shopping is much more expensive than drinking – not to mention it keeps you entertained for shorter amounts of time.
Day 11 – Alcohol isn’t confidence. I’ve always been a high energy, eyes on me type of person. Most people assume I’m most comfortable being the life of the party, which is mostly true, but it has to be the right party. In my early years of college I found it a struggle to be social in a room full of new people. I had this skewed perspective that because I wasn’t on the thinner side guys and even girls wouldn’t want to befriend me. So I laid low and faded into the background. In time, with a few sips of alcohol I felt more inclined to engage. Once I discovered I could drink with the big boys I really hit my stride. My tolerance became a silent introduction to those around me, and it fueled my innate center of attention personality. I was thankful for the crutch and I turned to it often; It was comfortable and I was good at it.
Who would I be without that introduction, without that party trick? What I found, was so much more than a party trick. Without the buzzed facade I displayed all of me. My introduction was my confidence and the fuel of the engagements was the variety of facets that compile who I am. People were intrigued by who I was rather than what I was doing. I had grown into my own and I had learned to embrace being the life of the party at every party, not just the right ones. It made me feel like I had come full circle. A roommate from my 2nd year in college once mentioned I was the same drunk as I was sober. 10 years later, I was reminded of that, and the confidence boost is far greater than that of alcohol.
Day 16 – I didn’t forget how to feed my soul, I just forgot to. I began my life as a student when I was 5 years old; with school came friendships, extra curricular activities and of course, homework. I continued my career as a student until I was 28 working my way through a BA, an MA, and a teaching credential. Again with those degrees came friendships, sports and homework. My life has always naturally dictated a healthy balance for me. I had a goal I was working towards, a passion that fueled my soul, and a support system that kept me socially thriving. When sports and school faded I merely had my job, and my social life. In the past, my weeks were so full of striving for goals and exploring my passion that letting loose on the weekends with my girlfriends was the perfect break – it was what I thought made me feel happiest. With only work and my social life on my calendar, my empty days were filled with social gatherings, 99% of which involved alcohol. At first it was euphoric, I could do what made me feel happiest more often…but the more I did it the less fulfilling it became. I’ve come to realize that the only reason I felt the happiest in those times is because I had been “filling my tank” all week. I was feeding my soul with studies of sport psychology and writing my blog. I was working towards a goal and bettering my life everyday in school and at work. Without putting in the “work”, the reward didn’t taste as sweet. A wise elderly woman once told me the secret to life was: “everything in moderation” – I had lost that moderation and low and behold life had become less fulfilling.
Day 18 – Drunk moments don’t correlate to deep connections. Throughout my entire career as a collegiate athlete I believed the easiest step towards team cohesion was a drunken night out together. I wasn’t wrong, those blurry nights allowed us to put our guards down, relax, and share memories together. However, what I didn’t realize is these nights were merely a jumping off point; it took many sober interactions to foster and instill that lasting connection. In team sports this happened naturally because we were together all week practicing, working out, and going to classes. As an adult they don’t happen as naturally. Most social interactions happen during leisure time, which is usually accompanied by a glass of wine, therefore my sober social interactions with my close friends were far more sporadic.
Day 19 – Temptation is fucking real. Before I began, I thought this journey would be tough; I figured that most days I would really struggle to stick to mocktails instead of cocktails. I didn’t, I waltzed through 18 days with virtually no temptations. Then I hit day 19. I was on a 3rd date with a cool guy and wine sounded incredibly enticing. I didn’t need a confidence boost, I didn’t need to relax, but the atmosphere and the company were wonderful and a glass of wine would have been the cherry on top. I almost gave in. He didn’t know my friends or my family, so I felt like I could have a glass, never tell anyone, and still claim victory after 30 days. I didn’t, I stuck to my guns and drank a glass of fake rose. I thought that admitting I experienced temptation would make my commitment less of a success, but it doesn’t. I’m more proud that I was able to resist it, more so than I would have been if I didn’t experience temptation at all.
Day 22 – Ok. I am skinnier . Ten pounds skinnier to be exact. (Welp, that won’t last long). I’m trying to convince myself it’s the morning gym workouts I’ve committed to, but let’s be real, it’s not.
Day 24 – Genuine friendships. All my friends were incredibly supportive, some even stood in solidarity with me when we were out and about. Cheers to you guys! (Irony intended)
Day 26 – I take far less pictures. My social calendar wasn’t any less packed than it typically is. However, looking back through the photos on my phone I notice that I documented far fewer moments.
Day 30 – Already? The last drink I had was a margarita at Mi Pueblo on Butter and Eggs day (April 27, 2019). It’s officially been 30 days. I’m shocked at how quickly time passed.
Is 30 days without alcohol a huge victory? Not necessarily. However, 30 days without anything you typically have or do is something to be proud of. I’m proud of myself for committing to it; I’m proud of myself for diving in and genuinely noticing the differences as time passed. I was able to be still long enough to evaluate my happiness instead of constantly moving to ensure others. As far as what I ultimately learned about myself along the way; I was reminded of who I already knew I was.