One Year Sober
Why I quit drinking.
I was still drunk as I trudged across the snow covered campus.
It was Saturday morning in Waterloo and I had regretfully signed up for a Bloomberg seminar. Cancellations weren’t allowed and if I missed it I’d be fined.
The next five hours were a punishment from Hell: instruction on how to use Bloomberg software as I descended from drunkenness to hangover. Convinced it would cure me, I bought an orange juice from the vending machine. Twenty minutes later I was locked in the handicapped bathroom throwing it up.
Unsuccessful in my search for the building’s breaker box to cut the power, I somehow made it through those long hours of learning to use a new keyboard to navigate the dots and lines and numbers pulsating on the black screen in front of me.
I took and shockingly passed the test making me Bloomberg certified.
In retrospect, I think the instructor passed everyone without so much as leafing through the papers because I started guessing after reading the first question five times over without understanding what it was asking.
Although I couldn’t tell you one Bloomberg function today, that disaster marked one of my more productive hungover escapades.
I started drinking in September 2017, the week I arrived at university.
I didn’t enjoy the taste of alcohol but university culture is party culture. My friends partied, so I did too. I joined a frat and they partied even more, so I did too. Monday was the only night of the week that didn’t have a designated bar.
The day after drinking, I would wake up hours after my alarm with a crippling headache. The rest of my day was purgatory. Muddled thoughts, cringes of regret, skipped workouts, zero studying, and a diet that resembled a third graders birthday party.
I was never a one or two drink guy.
The part of my personality that eeks out extra reps in the gym is the same part that drains extra drinks at the bar. A go hard or go home mentality is ingrained in my psyche.
I didn’t drink. I got hammered.
For me, drinking was never about the alcohol. I didn’t enjoy drinking for the taste or leisure. It was just a necessary element of the social scene.
But in my final semester, I started to see the despair and regret that would seep into my life if I kept alcohol in it. I eagerly awaited an escape from the university culture that was centred around booze.
Since graduating in August 2021, I’ve drank a handful of times and only gotten drunk on three occasions that I can remember. My last drink was half a glass of red wine on Christmas Day 2022. I haven’t touched alcohol in 2023.
I still go to parties where my friends are drinking, but I feel zero temptation to pick up the bottle. I enjoy spending time with them as myself, not as the person I was when I drank. When the night’s over, I sleep well and wake up the next day with energy and a clear head.
Quitting alcohol has been the biggest improvement in my life and health in the last two years. Here’s why.
Less regrets. I don’t mean big, life-altering regrets but rather the small things you say and do when you’re drinking that you cringe at later because they don’t align with the person you want to be. The things that no one notices but you. I hated the person I was when I was drunk. By stopping drinking, I killed that guy and gave myself the opportunity to become the type of man I want to be.
Forward progress compounded. When I drank, it felt like all the progress I had made the week before in the gym or school was wiped out and I had to start from scratch the next day. Now each week of progress stacks on the last. While life is not a race, I’m further ahead now in my fitness and relationships than I would have been if I kept drinking.
Be yourself. For me, drinking was about fitting into a certain group of people or being a part of the popular social scene. But relationships built on a foundation of alcohol will crumble. When I stopped drinking, I had permission to simply be myself. People that were okay with that stayed in my life and those who weren’t became distant.
Money saved. Bars, liquor stores, cover charges, Ubers, smashed watches, ruined t-shirts, and broken doors. These expenses have been eliminated entirely from my life.
Improved health and wellbeing. The science is clear: No amount of alcohol is healthy. By not drinking, I’ve reduced my risk for many diseases and feel healthier.
No hangovers. Life without hangovers is wonderful.
No matter the reasons you drink, I urge you to consider what your life could look like if you quit.
Numbing my senses with alcohol is no longer a compromise I’m willing to make.
Life is short. I want to feel every minute of it.
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