09 November 2013

Like most fun stories this one starts with getting drunk. One summer night I got very drunk at a party. In the morning I hated the hangover and myself.

Drinking heavy was the norm for me at the time, but this time I had a trigger to try something new. I was going for my first internship the following week, travelling to California. Getting to a new place, I decided to try an experiment - try to make it until my birthday without drinking - month and a half on the dry. I didn’t. I gave in and watched Batman drinking two bottles of Corona after about 26 days.

But hey, I still made it 26 days without alcohol. I was proud and happy for my new personal record. I told myself that next year I will beat that record. The challenge motivated me. And I did beat it by a tiny bit. Six years in a row I have been setting a new personal best - beating the score from the previous year by few hours or a day. Now my best is 29 days.

Most surprising was the observation that I can be having so much fun without drinking. I reasoned that if there are people who don’t drink but are always ready to laugh, dance or do something crazy, then I want to be one of them. I didn’t want no-drinking to make me boring. Alcohol makes it easier to start and keep partying but I thought that since the brain is the one deciding what to do, then maybe I can tell my brain to party without alcohol. I tricked myself to imagine that I was buzzed and to act accordingly. And it worked for me - I could relax and dance, make jokes and enjoy the party.

It all happened very slowly and gradually. Dancing on the sober was pretty hard to start, but easier to keep once I had started. I pushed myself to dance for a couple of minutes even if I didn’t feel like it, and then I just kept it going. And the rest of the party felt different when I had my head working and could think more clearly than when intoxicated.

I noticed that after putting myself in fun mode at parties without booze, it become easier to put myself in fun mode in my everyday life. By changing the way I party, I got more out of my non-party time. As a result I now drink less on average because I value my sober and non-hangover time more, and every time I drink it costs me few hours to a day. I still love a nice cold beer in a hot day, or a glass of red wine with a tasty meal. I’ll never go completely boozeless, because I don’t want to. Overthrowing alcohol didn’t mean killing it, but rather getting an improved, more balanced relation with it. I’ve increased my enjoyment threshold for alcohol. It better be really good or it wouldn’t be worth it.

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I write these posts to clarify my thoughts and improve my communication. They are mainly written for myself, and my future self, but I'd love to hear any comments you might have, especially if you disagree with what I've written, or if you've found it valuable in any way. Message me on Twitter @themitak or email me at comments@dimitarsimeonov.com.