Why I Decided to Stop Drinking Alcohol
This is a question I get often by people entering my life and people I haven’t caught up with since college. The circumstances where I am asked this question are interesting. It’s very similar to the, “Hey, how are you doing? Good. And you? Good” situation. You know…if you’re having a bad day, you can’t just respond with “not good” because then it requires the person who’s already walked past you to stop and ask “why” simply for the sake of not wanting to seem rude. So you just say, “good.”
The short answer? I just don’t like it so I don’t do it.
That’s the answer I tend to give. There’s often confusion in their eyes. Or I can practically see all the questions running around in their head. Let’s face it, if someone has decided to go dry, there’s a lot more to it than that simple answer. But there’s hardly a time and place that’s appropriate to fully discuss it.
So here are the reasons I decided to stop drinking.
1. There are other things I want to spend my time doing
Don’t get me wrong. Some of my favorite memories happened when I drank:
- It’s how I met my boyfriend and I started talking. I was at a house party. I asked people to come with me next door to McDonald’s. I didn’t order anything. Then I took the fries he’d ordered.
- My best friend in college kept a Notes page dedicated to shit I said when I was drunk. When graduation got closer, she read the quotes to me. We laughed and reminisced about the experiences that brought about those quotes
- And I’ll never forget the time my coworkers and I went to someone’s house for breakfast. Then we got lunch delivered. We spent the day drinking champagne and giggling on her back patio until we realized it was 7 PM. Her husband had to run to the store then make us all pasta.
But I like learning new things, exploring different cities, waking up early, and working out. When I have a hangover, I can’t do these things well (if at all).
2. There are other things I want to spend my money on
When you’re just starting out in your career, your budget can be pretty tight. I thought that spending $20-$30 every other week at happy hours with coworkers, catchup up with friends, or networking was investing in relationship building. But I realized that I had other priorities.
My alcohol funds went to things like paying off debt, getting coffee by myself to read, workout classes, investing, and other self-care investments. Don’t worry…this didn’t happen all at once. I didn’t spend THAT much money on alcohol.
3. It had an extremely negative impact on my mental health
Like I mentioned earlier, I like waking up early and getting things done. I’m an Enneagram type 3 if you can’t already tell. What this basically means is that I’m driven by achievement.
So the morning after I’ve had a lot to drink and have to lay in bed longer or do anything with a hangover, negative self-talk is at it’s strongest. Or as Brene Brown puts it, “my little gremlins come out.” I think about how it’s Sunday and there’s way too much to do. I can either:
- Stay in bed until my eyes can handle light shining and risk messing up the rest of the week. Because if I don’t meal prep on Sundays, I eat out for every meal. And that’s a hard hit on eating healthy and my budget.
- Suck it up and go about my day. But risk getting a migraine or blowing up at my boyfriend over something small because I’m irritable.
4. I wanted to improve my physique
Because I’m skinny, whenever I talk about unhappiness with my body, people tend to dismiss the way I feel about it. But my frustration is less about my body and more about putting in the effort and not seeing results. I wake up at 4 AM to get in a good workout, workout six days a week, and eat relatively healthy…I expect to see my body improving.
After I stopped drinking, I did see an improvement.
5. I don’t like the taste
Okay…There are some craft beers, wine, and bubbly that I genuinely enjoy. But for the most part, I’m not a fan. I’d rather put those calories toward eating a slice of cake.
6. I get bad hangovers easily
After one drink at happy hour, while catching up with a friend, I tend to be hungover the next day. Sometimes, a headache kicks in midway through my drink.
The transition wasn’t easy
The action of not drinking alcohol was the easy part. It was explaining to people who were in my life at the time that was hard.
When I made this decision, I was working at a startup tech company in downtown Seattle where there was always alcohol in the office and happy hours were well attended. To their defense, it is a bit of a shock seeing someone get fucked up at the Christmas party and then suddenly decide to completely stop drinking alcohol at the next event. Things quickly turned into a “she’s boring and wasting away her youth” image…so I was told. My boss at the time was the only cheerleader (Thanks, Lucy!).
Don’t get me wrong. The feeling of being tipsy is fun. And the feeling of being drunk enough to share my thoughts with people I usually have walls up around is freeing. But at the end of the day (or maybe I should say the very next morning?) the hangover, amount of calories wasted, and feelings of regret, embarrassment, and anxiety aren’t worth it anymore.
Thanks for giving this blog post a read! Just to clarify, I’m not saying that drinking alcohol is bad. If you genuinely like the taste and find the experience enjoyable, then by all means, keep doing you! If you are one of those people who don’t find joy in drinking alcohol and only do it to fit in, know that you are not alone and it’s okay to stop.