I stopped drinking for all of February
…and to be honest, it kind of sucked.
Dry month (n.): a month out of the year in which you choose and vow not to consume any alcohol.
Most people do a “Dry January” as a way to “cleanse” and “be healthy” after all the holiday festivities. Some people swear by it, while others swear it off. I generally lean on the latter because 1) I’m not an alcoholic and 2) I genuinely enjoy alcohol – in social settings, for a casual dinner to pair with food, or for a relaxing night in. BUT my brother decided to be bold and try a dry year, and my friend and amazing chef Jordan Andino does a dry month every year, so I got on this kick about doing it. I followed in Jordan’s lead and decided to do a dry February instead of January because it’s the shortest month of the year aka less days without alcohol. I’m on my 28th day, and here are some takeaways:
1) Even as a full blown adult, peer pressure to drink is STILL REAL. WHY?
It was really interesting to see how doing dry February affected my social life. Some people were quite supportive and said things along the lines of, “That’s really cool,” or “Good for you, that takes a lot of strength,” but others were either judging me or adamant about persuading me otherwise. I had to do a lot of justification as to why I wasn’t drinking because the opposite is considered the norm. I was at a pre-game party playing King’s Cup, and in lieu of alcohol, I drank seltzer so I could play. If you’ve never played King’s Cup, you usually play with alcohol and a deck of cards, and when certain numbers come up, you have to follow specific rules or you lose and have to drink. One of the card numbers correlates to a person playing being able to create their own rule. When that card came up, someone in the group (whom I just met that night) really tried to set a rule that I HAD to drink alcohol before the game was over. Long story short, I didn’t, but it was hard not to crack under social situations like this. But the thing is – WHY do we do this? Why do we try and guilt or pressure people into doing things as silly as drink? It’s one thing if you’re trying to persuade someone on an important cause or issue, but why is my personal choice of what I want or don’t want to put in my body up for debate? Going through this month made me realize that I will not do that to someone again because I am guilty of this myself – trying to get my friends to drink more or with me even if they did not necessarily want to. It’s a dumb concept, trying to force alcohol down someone’s throat. We’re adults; let’s stop doing it.
2) I learned a lot about self-restraint and resolve.
For those of you that don’t drink at all or are recovering alcoholics, I commend you and I apologize for idiots that try and break your resolve. It took a lot of energy and honestly purposeful reminders to stay sober. I almost forgot one time this month, and my friend reminded me of my self-pact. Although there were times where I certainly did want a drink, having self-control was also rewarding in it’s own way. I learned a lot about the power of saying no and that I didn’t need to say yes to every opportunity presented to me. Each time I specifically chose to follow this pact felt like a small achievement and a small step toward reaching my goal. I think this idea is important, not specifically when it comes to drinking, but in life. It’s important to set goals, stay focused on them, and take it one step at a time. It’s equally as important to relish in those small triumphs and then continue to keep growing and keep disciplining yourself. But trust me when I say this wasn’t easy, and God certainly gave me the strength and control to keep going.
3) I missed drinking most during meals and intimate get togethers.
It wasn’t even at parties or bars – everyone is loud and obnoxious anyway and it’s kind of fun to watch drunk people whilst sober. However, I craved a drink during dinners with my parents or during dining experiences in which a nice glass of wine would have paired really well with the food.
4) I saved a ton of money, I feel slightly “healthier” and have been able to think more “clearly”
My bank account is looking nice at the end of this month. I don’t even want to calculate how much money I’ve lost from alcohol in the past.
I also do feel more active and like I have more energy. I’m not claiming to be an expert on health-related topics and am just speaking off personal experience, but I have been waking up earlier, I have more energy throughout the day, and I feel like I am accomplishing more and thinking on my feet more quickly.
5) I cannot wait for March 1st.
Pretty sure this is self-explanatory. This experiment has been great and all, but I’m excited to have a drink.
I will say though, I would do this again. As hard as this was, it felt good to give something up and test myself in this way. I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe the idea of “lent” is necessary to be a Christian or is a true test of your faith, but I understand the concept of sacrificing something to test your integrity and see how much the thing you’re giving up means to you vs. how much God means to you. I do see this as an act of service to your faith, and I think this exercise/experiment is a way to test yourself and good indicator of your mindset and tendencies. After this, I’m more self-aware of my little actions, which even if they are small, produce consequences. In turn, I feel more deliberate and purposeful about the things I’m doing.
With that being said, I’m not sure what I want first: Cabernet Sauvignon or an Old Fashioned with Bourbon.