Reflecting on a year without alcohol

Sometime this month last year, I quit drinking alcohol. I had no goal, no reason and no expectations. I just wanted to see what it was like. The changes that happened since not drinking are subtle, but they are very real.

First, I go out less at night. I barely visit bars, pubs, clubs and concerts. Traveling plays a part in this as well, especially for the concerts. Activities and events at night usually end earlier, or at least I end up leaving earlier than I would in the past. I’m usually in bed before midnight, also on weekends. This causes me to have a much more balanced sleeping pattern. I sleep 8 hours most nights, and usually get up before 8.

I used to get up late-ish (9-10am), feel tired during the day and feel unfinished at night. I would work late to finish work I didn’t get done because I got up late and was tired, leaving no time for other activities.

I barely work (professionally) in the evening anymore, except hobby projects. I usually feel satisfied with what I’ve done that day around 5-7pm. I now spend that time for example on cooking, walking or playing boardgames.

Overall I feel so much more balanced. I’m relaxed, sleep well, eat well and have time to pursue things outside of work. I experience less ups and downs and moodshifts.

Now there’s one aspect that I could consider a downside of not drinking, and that’s making friends.

Drinking bonds.

I have made less friends the past year and I think not drinking played a part in that. I find it harder to relate to people, or I think people find it harder to relate with me.

If most people are drinking and you’re not, sometimes people, or you, feel awkward. There can be judgement from either side, which makes it harder to bond. That has also been a reason for me to avoid some situations, activities and events.

At the same time, the friendships I did make feel stronger and deeper. I’ve had meaningful conversations instead of a shared night of fun. I’ve learnt from people by talking about topics that are valuable to me.

I don’t think one has to exclude the other. You can probably have meaningful conversations and drink. I try to not let my own preferences and decisions, on this topic and on other topics, influence my opinion on others. I think relationships come from understanding. Sharing the same values likely means you understand each other, but you can still understand each other without sharing the same values. It just takes a bit more effort and a bit less judgement.

Published on April 12, 2019