2020 Gratitude: Alcohol (or a lack thereof)

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My relationship with alcohol has changed a lot in the past 10 years.

(10 years? How old am I again?)

Around the time I settled into my post-grad life, I likewise settled into a predictable drinking schedule – maybe a beer or two during the week, pre-game and go out with friends over the weekends, maybe get a little too drunk sometimes, but who cares? I’m young! I can handle it!

However, like a lot of things in my life, I’m constantly re-evaluating and trying to find a balance of what feels good and what doesn’t. And late last year into early this year, for many different reasons, getting drunk just didn’t seem to suit me anymore. While I appreciated how getting drunk made me feel more personable, friendly, and funny, it also made it too easy for me to slip back into old ways, which I had mindfully and purposely put behind me.

(Also, I’m getting older, and hangovers are getting worse! Are they even worth it anymore?)

Instead, I evaluated what I like about drinking (the taste, the camaraderie, a little buzz) and weighed it with what I didn’t like about drinking (overdrinking, especially without realizing, the price) and set strict limits with myself. I decided to be mindful about my drinking and consciously listening to my body while I drink. In a less rah-rah way, I’ve had to set limits for myself, and strictly hold myself to them.

The thing that I’m specifically grateful for is that 2020 has all but eliminated any societal pressure to drink! No concerts to pregame! No bars! No house parties! While this sucks in almost every other way, it’s been perfect for my newfound journey with alcohol and limiting my intake.

I’ve made sure that the few times that I have drank this year have been within my self-imposed guidelines. In January and February, I had a drink or two at concerts or shows, but actually wasn’t drinking that much because of my upcoming marathon. When that got cancelled, I let myself go a little too much and ended up violating my own rules and, as expected, crossed lines that I didn’t want to cross and, frankly, ruined everyone else’s fun. Though this was a tough pill to swallow, it did make me feel more secure in my decisions around controlling my drinking moving forward.

(Oddly enough, I did drink more than I expected in Japan. Highballs, in particular, were plentiful and often cheaper than getting water! However, I often get nervous when travelling, even more so in a country where I don’t know the language, and have already limited myself to not getting too drunk on vacations for fear of getting myself in a sticky situation.)

In self-isolation, I had a drink on my birthday, a few times on Zoom calls with friends, sometimes just because I felt like it! But I always made sure to stay within my limits and do only what made me feel good. Actually, a nice side effect of cutting down on drinking in general is that it’s easier to get a slight buzz with less volume – so I’d consider that a win-win!

I know that, as things become more “normal” going into the new year, that these boundaries are going to be tested even more and more. I’m using this time at home to really feel confident and secure in my decisions so that I can hold my ground in the new year – hopefully!

2 thoughts on “2020 Gratitude: Alcohol (or a lack thereof)

  1. Well put. I\ lived in Japan, and it’s not the best place if you’re trying to lower your alcohol intake, for sure. Or maybe it’s perfect because the challenges are around you constantly and you can always give yourself a pat on the back for doing the right thing? I guess it’s a perspective thing. Anyway, really great summary of what it’s like to face some hard truths and make changes because you are your own master.

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