I recently agreed to give up drinking for the month of August. August being one of the most drinking friendly months of Chicago’s year. It’s warm, there are festivals every weekend, and a ton of new friends with which to drink.
Why would I do this to myself?
Especially after withstanding one of the coldest and longest lasting winters in Chicago’s history?
Because I got dreams dammit! Big ones!
And I have felt quite strongly for a good while that alcohol is not helping so much as hindering my pursuits.
In this post I’m going to talk about some of the challenges so far and the deeply ingrained relationship we have with alcohol.
It all started when my favorite entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Work Week (this book convinced me to pursue alternative better options to my Budget Analyst position at NASA) sent out an email with the challenge to abstain from alcohol and porn for a month. The porn section being something I strive to abstain from 12 months a year.
This seemed like a lofty and interesting challenge especially during “The Drink Cacaphony” that is the month of August.
I emailed all my closest “Drinking” buddies to see if anyone was interested. Unsurprisingly I’d be doing this challenge alone.
I knew the porn section wouldn’t be that hard as I hadn’t watched any for the about the last 9 months (give or take a few moments of weakness) but the drinking part would definitely be a challenge.
Here’s why: For some reason I have it deeply and unshakably ingrained in my head that “In order to have a great time, look great, feel great, party with beautiful people, find your soulmate, and dream job you need to be drinking like a fish!”
No matter how many drink fueled poor decisions, bad times, sick mornings, and terribly wasted hungover days I experienced, this thought remained relatively unshaken.
Why do I and most people I know think this way? Is it the media sending us 1,000’s of images of smart, sexy, fun people with drinks in their hands? Our icons with their club bottle service? Our favorite characters getting drunk at Moe’s Tavern? The fun we had in college when we were all but immune to alcohols deeply troubling effects?
I say YES to probably all of those things. But are they true? Do we really need to drink mass quantities, make bad decisions, inhibit our ability to engage in coitus interruptus, and wreck any chance of productivity for the following day/s, in order to have a good time?
I’m thinking no.
And I am hoping this month of relative soberness will help me prove it to myself. I have had plenty of great nights out where I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. One could argue that (back in the day of course) my kill ratio (picking up a desirable mate) was significantly higher if I abstained from drink. Which is usually the goal of going out in the first place as far as I can tell.
Drinking for all intensive purposes doesn’t make any sense at all. If I told you hey I have this stuff that will cause you to make poor life decisions, you’ll feel like shit potentially during and after, and it’s going to drain your wallet. Any right thinking person would kindly tell me to go fuck myself.
But when I phrase it as “WHO WANTS TO PARTY?” people line up for $7 beers.
And with all of these clear and reasonable objections my 10 days of drink abstinence has been an INCREDIBLE challenge.
Most recent example being:
I offered to help one of our clients at their beer tent for Market Days. Normally this is an excuse to day drink for 6-10 hours FOR FREE!! But not this time. I took an oath.
It started out fine. Everyone at the tent was super friendly and fun; as everyone is in Boystown. But then when it got hectic and I had 10 people yelling at me for drinks that’s usually when I would soothe my rattled nerves with a refreshing swig of the substance rightfully called “Nectar of the Gods”… beer.
This was now, unfortunately, not an option. I had to nut up instead of chug up. It was not easy and I was definitely feeling the stress. But then something clicked, and I got in my groove and interestingly felt as if I was drunk.
Leading me to wonder if:
A. I had been given something without prior consent or
B. This is just what happens to me after being in a highly social environment for at least 30 minutes. The edge just comes off.
Which made me think “had drinking ever really made me feel more relaxed or was it just how I naturally responded?”
Had I been paying for booze while my body just naturally relaxed me anyway this whole time?
What a jip!
Long story short I did succumb to let’s say about 3-5 normal sips of delicious beer. Which WAS SO DELICIOUS OMG! But that was it. No shots, no chugs, no mixed drinks, no nothing.
Easily one of the most challenging abstinence related moments of my life. (given there are not a lot to choose from)
Another great plus I have noticed from drink abstinence is my wallet has a lot more money in it.
I still go out with friends as if we were getting drinks I simply order club soda and lime. Which looks a lot like a vodka club 😉
I’m not sure if I was just too drunk to realize but drinking is the biggest frivolous expense in my life! Each night I went out and DIDN’T DRINK I easily saved $60-$100. And I still got to eat delicious food and dance!
With all this in mind it should be a no-brainer to give up drinking now and into eternity. But for whatever reason it remain a super challenging feat.
I plan to finish out August, allowing myself a few sips here and there.
I am hoping to continue gaining new perspective on this arguably toxic relationship.
In the meantime wish me luck!!
And just because I ain’t drinking doesn’t mean I won’t hang out and buy you a drink! #LetsDance