I have been thinking about this for a while- giving up alcohol. I know, it’s something not many people in college would admit to thinking. After all, drinking is the number one social entertainment at most universities especially at mine, we have an entire season dedicated to drinking. So yes, it may be weird for someone who just turned 21 a little over a month ago to give up drinking, but after three years of dedicated drinking in college and one (or two) years of sneaking booze in high school, I’m ready for a break. I don’t usually drink in excess, but I have had my (embarrassing) moments.
It’s the second week of spring semester and I’ve already drank more than I did over the entire course of winter break, I hardly drank during my four glorious weeks of relaxation. I didn’t miss it either. During that time, I felt like I had a clearer state of mind, more energy, and I felt like I had more control over my life and my emotions.
Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with drinking alcohol, but for about the last year, I just haven’t really enjoyed it.
Number one. I’m in college O.K. And I work hard to earn all of my money. I pay my rent and my utilities myself. Alcohol is expensive, whether I’m cruising the liquor store for a nice little somethin’ somethin’ to sip and relax in my fat girl pants or if I’m going to the bars uptown. It’s expensive. And there is no such thing as “having only one drink.” It doesn’t exist.
Number two. I like to eat. We all have habits that we don’t really have total control of whether we like to admit it or not- well mine is eating. I love eating. Drunk Hannah likes eating even more than Sober Hannah does. And guess what, that’s more money! Not to mention I wake up feeling like a heavy ball of gross because of the unwelcoming mixture of liquor and whatever grease covered, over priced drunk food my inner goblin shoved in her face the night before (I say that with self- love:).
Number three. Is it just me or does alcohol make everyone lazy? Whether I drank a lot or a little the night before, I wake up feeling groggy and my body feels unhealthy. I have to resist staying in my fat girl pants and watching cartoons all day.
Number four. I dread feeling like I have to drink to have a good time going out or being with my friends. None of us want to admit it, but alcohol is a social function and it does make us more relaxed. Well drinking has become the main way I spend my time with my friends and it’s gotten me thinking- can’t we be friends sober? Also, I don’t enjoy going to most of the bars on campus- they are loud (there’s too much Fetty Wap playing for my taste) people are pushing and shoving, and the butt grabs are seriously unwelcome.
Number five. Last but certainly not least. Drinking is a distraction. A distraction from the bad day I had, from the heartbreak, or from the stress and anxiety I don’t have full control over. Working out is such a great stress reliever for me personally, but as my reasons number two and three illustrate, drinking makes me less motivated to exercise. Working out is a much healthier alternative than pushing my worries aside for tomorrow morning and this is the main reason I want a break.
I know, I know. Why not just get some self-control and drink less and less often? Because my mom always said to my brother and I, “If you’re gonna do something, don’t do it half-assed.” That motivational little wonder used to only apply to doing chores, but as I grow I’m able to apply that saying to more and more areas of my life. Given, that might not be the most beautiful motivational blurb but it works. The whole function of alcohol is to relax your barriers, if I want to give up liquor then I can’t half-ass it (mom) because there is no such thing as only one drink, I need to commit.
I draw a lot of motivation for myself from a book called Meditations from the Mat. The book draws on Buddhist teachings to spiritually enhance one’s personal experience of yoga. I rarely do yoga anymore but I still read the book (shame on me). Yesterday I opened up to day 40 and a short discussion of brahmacarya which in short means moderation (if you look it up online you’ll find a lot about celibacy but there’s more to it). I was surprised by how relevant this was to me- it spoke of immoderation and imbalance due to cycles of “addiction”. Now I am certainly not addicted to alcohol but I do use it as a distraction. The book spoke of how when we tackle these habits and cycles of essentially self-doubt, we can free ourselves of anxiety, “We are no longer making up excuses for our reality.” I said I had been thinking of giving up the juice for a while, and when I read this I knew that I needed to make the leap.
In the book The Last of the Mohicans (which I did not read all the way, shame on me..again) the Native Americans called alcohol ‘fire water.’ I learned something in that book that no history class ever spoke of- that colonists gave Natives alcohol in order to weaken them. Native American’s never had ‘fire water’ until the colonists arrived. Many of them became alcoholics and thus their forces were considerably weakened. I know I can’t take a novel too seriously, but it’s something that has stuck in the back of my mind. Look at the living conditions of Native American’s today, many of them are crammed on small reservations where crime and drug addictions run rampant. But I’m veering off topic.
My point is that alcohol isn’t really good for you, in fact it’s terrible for your physical and emotional well-being.
So here’s the scoop; I’m giving up alcohol for two weeks. Why only two weeks? Because I know myself and I know that straight quitting won’t work and two weeks is a very reasonable amount of time for myself. It is a nice amount of time to get my bearings and if I realize I want a longer break, I will certainly take it. Over the course of these two weeks I’m going to reflect on my physical and emotional well-being and I’m also going to track my progress on some of my personal goals such as working out. I have set a few goals (not resolutions because that’s a lot of pressure) that are important to me and I want to see them through to completion. I believe that without the distraction of alcohol I will be a happier, more proactive person.