I Used To Go Hard and Now I Just Go Home
In the words of classic philosopher Beyonce Knowles…. “‘I’ve been drinking.”
And boy, have I ever. When you’re 24 and living in a big city with a bunch of your best friends, going out isn’t really part of the territory–– it is the territory. I have friends that work in bars. I have a workplace with a keg. Happy hours and boozy brunches are really standard plans, and it’s still very common to just meet at a bar with no intention for the night aside from drinking.
And yet–– I’m currently in a health-induced no-drinking zone.
It’s not a hard and fast rule my doctors demanded, but in a world where I can’t eat chicken because it irritates my stomach too much, giving up alcohol indefinitely was a (disappointing) no-brainer. And I honestly don’t mind all that much–– giving up cheeseburgers was a hell of a lot harder, personally. But it does put kind of a crimp in all of those aforementioned social plans when I can’t partake in the part that puts the “happy” in happy hour.
It’s not that I can’t have fun without alcohol. Duh, Netflix exists. There are puppies in the world. And funny movies. I can eat cake, and dance badly to Taylor Swift songs. There are a million ways to have fun without drinking. But when you’re a certain age, being sober can make you the odd one out in social scenarios. And explaining why you aren’t drinking can get a bit exhausting as well. Ordering a ginger ale at a bar isn’t exactly the most normal and innocuous thing to do, and while people are always super chill about it when I say I can’t drink, it’s still a conversation to be had.
When I first realized I would have to stop drinking indefinitely, I assured all of my friends that nothing would change. I would still go out to bars with them until 2 AM–– don’t worry! But I’ve realized, thanks to the additional impact of fatigue, that I actually can’t just continue on my social life as normally scheduled minus the gin and juice. So what do you do when your body is conspiring against your ability to have a good time?
You make some changes. You start suggesting evening and daytime hangouts, where you’re more likely to have some energy and alcohol isn’t always an assumed part of the socialization like it can be on a Saturday night. My body pretty much powers off at 9 PM these days, making it hard to make it out at all–– let alone stay out. But you know what I realized? Going out to bars isn’t the only way to see friends, or meet people, or have a good time.
I’ve started having friends over for dinner. I’ve taken up (booze-free) brunch like it’s an Olympic event. I’ve perused locally owned bookstores with my mom, and gone for facials with my best friend. I’ve learned to have fun with a trip to the grocery store or a solid morning yoga session. As it turns out, life exists before 9 PM, and it’s actually really nice. And waking up not hungover on a Sunday morning is a revelation. Last weekend I baked muffins. I barely recognize myself.
Point being, if alcohol is harming your health for whatever reason, giving it up doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your social life. There are plenty of activities (like music events, comedy shows, etc) that might be a little more fun a few beers in, but are just as valid and entertaining as the sober one in the room. And it might sound cliche, but it’s true: if I surround myself with the right people, I really don’t need to be drunk to laugh my face off or dance to Beyonce. It comes naturally.