Alchohol-Free, Specifically, Part 1: Alcohol is Everywhere
For years I was the person who mostly didn’t drink around all the people who did drink. Then sometimes I would drink, and I was usually really bad at it. I'd say things better kept to myself and make decisions I was bound to eventually question. The next day I'd feel like I'd betrayed myself, like I'd let people see what I most didn't want them to know. All of my regrets and shames are tied to those times. There’s nothing I hate more than waking up wondering, What did I do last night? What did I say? Who did I hurt?
I thought I was socially less than because I wasn’t good at drinking. I wanted to be like everyone else bonding over drinks and laughing about their exploits the next day. I wished more than anything that fun could be as easily attainable for me as it looked for others.
Like most people, I come from a place where alcohol is a huge part of the social fabric, so much so that it didn’t occur to me until last year that it didn’t have to be that significant in my own life. Cocktail parties, boat drinks, underage drinking and a casual attitude towards over indulgence were the norm I knew growing up as a WASP on the Connecticut shoreline. Drinking looked like the thing happy, successful, sophisticated people do. Alcohol was inherently aspirational. It's no surprise then that when I started a business, logic told me you have to party with people to win their business.
Unlike most people, I’ve spent almost two decades building a business that places me frequently in the path of all sorts of substance intake. The opportunities I’ve had over the years to ingest, experiment with, or abuse drugs and alcohol are more than your average person could ever wrap their head around. Working at music festivals and concerts since 2001, I have spent a huge percentage of my life around intoxicated people and intoxicants, creating art for and selling merch to a subculture that conflates partying with social opportunity and spiritual exploration. More often than not, I abstained amidst this chaos, and I have never touched most of the drugs I have come across. My way of being a part of this scene was to work while others celebrated.
When I'm not on the road, I live in New York where I've been since I was twenty one years old. Coming of age in a city where domestic space is limited, what I knew about socialization was life in bars. I moved here at the peak of Carrie Bradshaw teaching aspirational young women that fancy cocktails and fancy shoes were symbols of independence, and I too was convinced that a real woman must be able to drink with the men (in heels). To do anything in New York - see friends, network, date, or get down on a dance floor - meant being around alcohol. Starting my business early in my twenties, I never had the schedule nor the budget to keep up with my city peers.
No matter where I went it seemed I was on the outside, a witness to the party. My business was my habit I was hooked on, for better or worse, and yet, I would constantly lament, why couldn’t I have a good time like everyone else?
Since I didn't have a problem with alcohol, I never thought about giving it up. The problem was me, I thought. I just needed to learn to be more fun. And then one day I realized I don't like drinking, and I don't want to do it anymore.
Keep reading to learn why I made the choice I did, and what it has meant for me.
*** Note: If you’re questioning your relationship with alcohol and need someone to talk to, click here to connect.