I will openly admit that 80% of all the mistakes I’ve made in life were probably, in someway, fuelled by alcohol. Ranging from small errors like losing £20 or eating fried chicken when I’m supposed to be veggie to the bigger regrets like nearly missing my flight home from Barcelona or telling my ex-boyfriend I actually fancied his mate… when we were together.
Being from the north of England, heavy drinking comes hand in hand with coming of age. The first time you’re slumped over the toilet throwing up is a right of passage and going for a ‘quiet one’ is anything but civil. But over Christmas, I had a change of heart. I went for a night out with my cousins and got that drunk that I got home and threw up in a bag of presents my mum had bought for the children of some family friends and I knew it was time to call it a day.
I hadn’t ever felt inclined to participate in Dry January- why would I waste my youthful years? Get all the drinks in now whilst the hangovers are at least semi-bearable. Although statistics show that collectively people aged 18-25 are the heaviest drinkers, alcohol consumption has been depleting year on year. And after this month I can completely understand why. Surprisingly, Dry January was a rather enlightening month for me. Here’s what I learnt once I removed the beer goggles:
Alcohol excellerates desperation
Unfortunately, the first week of Dry January was my housemate's birthday and one thing led to another and we had a houseparty in our house. Obviously. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so impressed, and simultaneously embarrassed, by the end-of-the-night-grapple people have to find someone to go home with them. When I witnessed one girl spontaneously ask a guy to ‘come home and fuck me’ it made me feel great pity. With alcohol, inhibitions may drop, but so do standards, values, pants...
Boring people/ things are still boring
I hadn’t initially noticed, but when I met up with certain people that I know, I’d have a few drinks first or I’d aim to drink a lot whilst with them. And I’ve realised it’s because I don’t find them that interesting. Sorry. The same goes for certain activities that, to be honest, I just don’t enjoy- like dates with guys off Tinder. Drinking had made certain people and certain things at least tolerable. Now I’ve removed that social crutch I feel more willing to decline invites to stuff that aren’t my thing (*deletes Tinder).
Alcohol is one big reason why we are skint
I can easily breeze through a minimum of £30 on a night out. E.A.S.Y. So on the second weekend of Dry January, during yet another birthday night out, spending £1.50 on a glass of Diet Coke was like a dream. In the heat of the moment, fuelled by excitement at the price, I nearly bought everyone a round of drinks- but then I obviously didn't. Because it would’ve defeated the point...
Alcohol can increase tolerance to intolerable things
In sober life, men awkwardly and often relentlessly flirting, making sexual comments about me and taking the piss out of my accent, are all really annoying or inappropriate. But when I drink, it's just banter. After a few drinks once, a mate told me I was fat and a whore (clearly none of which are true, thanks) and at the time I was like OMG THAT’S SO FUNNY. It’s not funny, it’s a disgusting way to be spoken to. And something I doubt I’d have tolerated had I been sober.
Alcohol is, in fact, the cause of most mistakes
Drinking definitely heightens the spontaneous and impulsive parts of my personality and it was really nice having that toned down. It’s liberating waking up on a Sunday morning without the unexplained guilt or the inability to remember what you did or what you said the night before. Watching your mates make mistakes instead is partly funny/ partly tragic and it becomes clear how bad of an influence we all are on each other after a few drinks.
Although I highly doubt I’ll become permanently sober (because I do actually like the taste of alcohol), I definitely think I’ll drink less. Aside from the social and mental benefits of being sober, my body feels way different; my skin has a glow it’s not had in a long time and my clothes fit better. If you didn’t do Dry January, then you should consider having a month hiatus- even if it’s just to stop you pissing away your money!