Somewhere in unwritten societal law it is written (ha) once you turn thirty everything changes. You should be approaching mid-level comfortability at your job. (ha) Fridays are a day of rest, not going out. (halfway true) And finally if you are a girl, you are, as one of my friends so eloquently put it, you are on the “clearance rack”. Thanks, patriarchy because we women are just sitting around waiting to be chose. (*Rolls eye*) You shouldn’t be partying, read drinking as much.
Never one to subscribe to societal rules, I did begin this year by checking in with my drinking habits. I took a moment to reflect and realized that since September 2012 I probably had not not drank for more than a week. So I decided to take a break for twenty days.
Before you categorize me as a raging alcoholic let me explain a few things. I was one of those lame kids who followed all the rules and didn’t drink until I was 21, with the exception of mixing cheap red wine and vodka at a CO-OP party, sorry Ine. Part of this was because I was scared to get caught and go to jail (extreme) but also because I had a negative association with alcohol growing up. After college, when I moved to Los Angeles, I only drank on two occasions, club night on the weekends and taco Tuesday (Well, this switched off with wing Wednesday). I maintained a fairly structured life, work M-F 6am to 3pm, gym, cable television- Intervention was Monday was a thing. In New York structure flew out the window, as I was able to survive working two to three days a week, leaving a TON of time for socializing. Every social occasion has liquor, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but always something.
I could always find a way to rationalize breaking the commitment I made to myself, a birthday, an event….summer. I told myself all kinds of lies to make myself feel better about failing: life is just more fun, there was no real reason to stop, I’m young, I’m responsible, I pay my bills, I deserve, I don’t need these drinks I just want them, I got really good as pulling the wool over my own eyes.
Then suddenly at the end of last year something just clicked and I understood the promise to not drink wasn’t really about alcohol at all but about self -discipline. If I tell myself I’m going to do something it is important to do it. I was having so much fun basking in the fun of no structure I had forgotten keeping promises to myself makes me feel good. Setting out to do a task, no matter how menial, and completing it gives you a sense of pride that helps you face even larger challenges. Not to mention in this case alcohol really is poison that sometimes can contribute to bad life decisions like buying all your closest friends (the whole bar) drinks, headaches that feel like leprechauns have split your head open and are doing a jig, and several unpleasant trips to the bathroom.
Life is seemingly more fun with alcohol because it turns off the switch in your brain that makes you feel like you have to be a certain way. Alcohol gives a sense of freedom most people don’t have sober. It’s an exaggerated confidence that releases you to dance like no one is watching, and even flirt, successfully, with the person you feel like you have no chance with. No judgement here, but I think the goal is to find this freedom without a drink in your hand. Life can always be fun; it’s just about letting go and being comfortable with who ever you are.
Admittedly not drinking and still being in social situations was super hard. While it did make me feel accomplished and even challenged me to bring out that confidence without needing a tool, by no means am I going to stop completely. I wish I was on some elevated level of inner peace but for now life is still sometimes a struggle and it’s easier to cheat then force myself to do the work. As long as I’m aware and moving with purpose I give myself grace. I even celebrated the end of twenty days dry with a margarita or two. Life is all about balance, ya know?
PS. The discipline carried over professionally, exciting news coming soon! Also if you haven’t yet check out newly revamped chefleen.com