9 lessons I’ve learnt from the first 9 months of sobriety

9 lessons I’ve learnt from the first 9 months of sobriety

Nine months ago, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. It was something I’d been thinking about for a while, and I had already completed short periods of abstinence. At 27, my alcohol intake had already decreased from my university days, and for ease, I was often driving home after night outs. When I did drink though, the effects were really taking their toll, both physically and mentally and I finally reached a point where I realised it wasn’t worth it. So, for anyone who’s in a similar situation and has been considering cutting down or stopping completely for a while, here are nine things I’ve learned in the nine months I’ve been sober.

1. I’ve saved the pennies

The most obvious advantage of not drinking on nights out is the amount of money it can save you. Now, it does depend on both where and what you’re drinking because there are many bars and clubs that will still charge you £9 for a non-alcoholic cocktail, but for me, looking at my account the next day is done with a lot less dread. I no longer have to get involved in costly rounds of shots and I’m far less likely to seek out a dirty kebab at the end of the night, or order a KFC delivery the next day because I’m too ill to get out of bed.

2. I’m less anxious

There was nothing worse than waking up after a heavy one and having to desperately try and replay every conversation I had with people, trying to work out if I’d upset anyone or did anything wrong. Coupled with the shame of having to spend a day in bed, the anxiety alone was enough for me to stop drinking.

3. I’m a morning person

Speaking of being too hungover to function, being sober means I’m 100% more likely to be up and about the next morning, albeit maybe a bit tired. I’ve realised that I actually like getting up and going about my normal day after an evening out, not confined to my bed riddled with hangxiety and shame. I feel proud of myself for getting up and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

4. I’m more productive

As well as being a morning person, I’m much more productive with my time after being out the night before. I’m actually writing this on a Sunday afternoon, after being out for a friend’s birthday and getting home at 1am. Before sitting down I cleaned the kitchen, hoovered the flat, and even made myself food. 

5. My (real) friends don’t care if I’m sober

One thing that worried me, and I think worries a lot of people when they consider giving up drinking, is how the people around them will react. We live in a society where the number one to socialise is by consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Unfortunately, there might be people in your life who will think you’re boring and will stop inviting you to things because you don’t drink. My answer? F*** ‘em. If that’s how someone’s going to react to you taking such an important step in your life then they probably weren’t a very good friend to begin with. Of course, it’s always going to be awkward when you first meet up with friends and you have to tell them that you’re not drinking but I found doing it in phases helpful. Initially I said “I’m not drinking today”, then gradually “I’m not drinking at the moment” to finally, “I don’t drink.” And you know what? Absolutely nothing has changed regarding the relationships I have with my friends.

6. I’ve found new things to do 

Being sober means that you find new ways to go out and have fun. My partner and I decided to give up drinking together so when we do go out, drinking is not involved. We recently went to a Friday night comedy gig and now we spend most mornings in the gym together, never having to worry whether the other is too hungover to go. There are also some wonderful groups, (like Sober Girl Society) that throw amazing mixer events for like-minded sober and sober curious people.

7.I have more confidence

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a shy and introverted person. I hated having to interact with new people and spending too much time with people would drain me. Even going to a work event or party with people I don’t know terrified me so the only way I thought I could get through it was with some Dutch courage. The problem is that this isn’t giving you a chance to grow as a person and will make it so much harder to put yourself out there in situations when you have to be sober. I remember the first SGS mixer I went to, I was so nervous and had no idea how I was going to talk to a room full of strangers without a drink but forcing myself into that kind of situation meant that I had to act somewhat confident in order to get through the evening. I recently attended my second SGS event at Sipsmith and on reflection the change that I’ve seen in myself is incredible. When I think about it, it’s also translated into my everyday work and home life. I will always be an introvert, and that’s okay, but now I know if I’m thrown into a room with strangers I won’t be so awkward and silently stand in the corner wishing for it to be over. I will throw myself in and try to make connections with people, and that is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

8.I have more fun when I’m sober

I’m not going to lie, the first few times you do a night out sober is weird. You feel awkward and self conscious that people are looking at you and judging you, and it’s definitely strange standing around without a drink in your hand. But nine months in, I’ve done a few of these sober nights now and I’ve realised something – people don’t care whether you’re sober because they’re often too drunk to notice. So go to the dance floor with your friends, make a bit of a tit out of yourself – everyone else is. And the best thing is, you will remember everything the next day and have a wonderful memory of a fun night out, not a fuzzy, black mess of shame.

9.I’ve got to know the real me

As I’ve previously said, I’m an introvert. I prefer having a one on one or small group conversation, to being surrounded by 10 plus people all talking over each other and trying to be heard. I used to hate myself for being shy and wished I could be more like some of my more extroverted friends. But now I realise being an introvert is just me, and the louder, dancier me that came out when drunk isn’t me at all and I don’t want to be her. I know what situations I like and I know when I need to get out, and for me, that’s much better than forcing alcohol down my throat to try and convince myself I’m having a good time. So embrace who you are, be proud and the people around you will love you for it.

Written by Rachel Gunter

Rachel is from Southampton and is a Senior Admin & Editorial assistant for BBC Good Food & Olive magazine. You can find her on Instagram @rachel.gunter

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