Why a Month Without Alcohol is Actually Something You Should Consider

No alcohol in barAt the beginning of September 2013 I started a new life that was different and better than the one I had been living. I moved into an apartment in Chicago with two roommates I met on Craigslist, determined to start entirely from scratch. I was not a pioneering risk-taker moving without the security of gainful employment, but I did move without owning a bed, or any furniture for that matter. I didn’t have bath towels, or kitchen knives, or a vacuum. I did have wine glasses and a cocktail shaker.

I started thinking about how to cut other costs while I was spending what is to me an alarming amount of money on apartment furnishings, and the solution I devised was to give up alcohol for the entire month of September.

I am a person who typically has at least one drink three to five nights out of the week. This venture in no way seemed like fun. Instead, it became a challenge.

More Room for Productivity and Health

The first mistake I made was assuming I’d go out with friends and simply not order anything. This is incorrect. If I hadn’t forgone most social engagements revolving around drinks, I never would have made it. Instead I kept to myself most weekends, finding solace in all the new neighborhood coffee shops at my disposal and all the caffeinated work I could accomplish, because it wasn’t like I had anywhere else to be on a Friday night at 8pm when I was decidedly NOT drinking.

It was rainbow-magic productivity time and a giant fuck you to my social life—I saw almost no friends for the entire month. But I was getting enough sleep and waking up at incredibly early hours for the weekend, which is how I got back into my running routine, and how I was able to kick-start this blog into existence.

A Lesson in Moderation

Even though I was purposely avoiding situations in which I’d be tempted to have a drink, I couldn’t avoid them entirely. I can mostly thank my job for this. I work at a boutique PR agency and September happened to be a busy month full of events and parties to work. So I had plenty of practice saying no not only to champagne but to champagne that was free. The benefits being 1) that you can focus on doing your job and not on how many glasses to consume before you verge on unprofessional, and 2) abstaining from complimentary booze in the same proximity as your boss will at the very least absolutely not get you into trouble and at the very most make you slightly impressive.

Save Your Money

You know what adds up?

Fancy cocktails.

Beer.

Wine.

All the booze.

The fries you order with your whiskey, the pizza delivered to the apartment party, the cab ride home after a night of drunken cavorting.

These are all expenses that vanish when you opt to stay in on a Friday or Saturday night and, say, fix a nice dinner and catch up on your reading or get ahead on some work (see Jen Dziura’s advice on using hours/times of year most people aren’t working to get ahead here and here).

I’m not suggesting that going out is a not-so-great thing to do. When you’re young and vibrant and single especially, please do go out often and with purpose. Make it about socializing, meeting new people, enjoying good drinks and killing it on a dance floor; a night out can be just as productive as a day of work. If we didn’t make our social lives somewhat of a priority we’d be missing a grand piece of the puzzle, as it were. But for most of us, it’s financially impractical to go out every Friday and Saturday night, so I find it worthwhile to practice re-framing a night in as another kind of opportunity for productivity. Take to a relaxed night of reading, catch up on lower priority work-related tasks that have been on the back-burner for days, or do some mindless cleaning around the apartment if your brain power is exhausted. Whatever you do, get to bed early and tackle the next morning with panache because you got a good night’s sleep and didn’t wake up hung-over. If I can get a four-mile run, a shower and a trip to the farmer’s market out of the way before 10:30am on a Sunday, the world is mine for the taking, and I feel pretty excellent whether I end up writing at a coffee shop or at home reading and napping for the rest of the day.

4 thoughts on “Why a Month Without Alcohol is Actually Something You Should Consider

  1. It also helps if you find a group of friends that also don’t drink and like to do things like watch movies and play board games.

    It’s hard to convey my feelings on the matter on paper, since there’s no tone. However, my personality was never a good fit for going out to clubs and hanging out in noisy places to socialize. Instead, I found a group of friends in college that enjoyed fencing, contact juggling, feminist knitting, and going to various free events hosted by the university.

    I’m not judging those that do go out and drink, it’s such an accepted form of socialization in our culture. I think that you’re absolutely right in that you’re right in that all of it adds up. It’s also a good thing to change our habits from time to time so that we can keep improving ourselves.

    1. I agree that it can be frustrating when you’re trying to find a way to socialize that doesn’t revolve around drinking, whether you’d like to get away from it for a while or drinking simply isn’t your thing. You’ve certainly found some awesome alternatives! (What is feminist knitting, exactly, in case it’s not exactly what it sounds like? Because I would totally join a group of feminists knitting together.)

      Thanks for reading.

      1. It’s exactly like it sounds. It was founded by a group of feminists, but it was mostly just a knitting club where we would just hang out in a room together socializing while knitting or crocheting.

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