sober january really works.

You guys, I am so excited about Sober January! I’m very excited because Sober January really works. At least Sober January really works for me.

By “works” I mean that I feel amazing during and after. Last year (2019) was the very first time I did Sober January and I didn’t regret it. NOT ONE BIT. I felt great, I felt strong, I felt fully alive, and my mind was CLEAR. I almost didn’t start drinking again at all. But it IS still fun sometimes.

Last January was also the very first time I took a break from having a drink for longer than 4 or 5 days since 2003. 2003 is the year I started drinking and a lot of drinking happened between 2003 and 2018 and it was often on consecutive days.

sober january really works...sober january at work!
Sober January 2019 joy!

the early sober life.

In high school I didn’t drink. I never drank because somewhere deep down I knew that if I drank I would never get anything done. I knew that I would not succeed in school or get into/pass any AP classes or be a good athlete or get into college or honestly have any valuable connections with friends, family, or the world at large.

I knew that I couldn’t have it all. I had to choose. I could choose drinking and partying and falling into party girl oblivion or I could work hard and get the hell out of there in order to party in a much better place later on. So that’s what I did.

And my peers seemed to think I was like, smug or something for not drinking. Oh look at SHANNON she is so SMUG on her HIGH HORSE of not drinking oh she’s SUCH A BITCH.

Suck it, high school peers.

I recall being at a high school party one time and everyone was drunk and I wasn’t drinking but I was FINE, I did not CARE, I was just hanging out. If I was THAT SMUG I wouldn’t have BEEN there. And at some point I ended up making instant mac and cheese for some gals that seemed like they needed a snack and I brought the prepared mac and cheese over and a couple of them were nice but one of them scoffed at me and rolled her eyes. Like I was so SELF RIGHTEOUS and PRETENTIOUS for presenting her drunk stuck up ass with mac and cheese.

You guessed right, I’m not over the instant mac and cheese incident of 2002.

drinking is normal. so incredibly normal that not drinking is “abnormal.”

What I’m getting at is that no one trusts you if you’re not drinking. They think you’re a loser or you’re a spy or that you’re judging them. Because their perception is impaired and yours isn’t, and they know or feel or assume that your clear(er) head gives you some kind of power over them. Even if the power is in their own minds. And they don’t like it. They don’t like it at all.

hungover at Cats on broadway
UN-Sober January, 2017.

Drinking is a thing that a lot of people do, and drinking is fun. You DO often form valuable bonds with your fellow drinkers, this cannot be denied. It’s a good way to tell funny stories and make pals and have fun.

But drinking is also a terrible demon and makes you feel like complete shit the next day so you can’t really get anything done. And you just wallow in feeling like shit until the clock approaches an acceptable hour when you can drink more in order to feel better.

A less sober morning and a reminder to hydrate.

And the cycle continues.

Sober January really works to break that cycle. And it is wonderful.

sober january 2020 is here!

It’s a new decade now! But in the majority of the last decade I spent many nights, weeknight and weekend, out on the town drinking. Drinking and chatting and yelling and kicking my leg and making friends and generally having a grand old time. And I loved it! It was fun as hell! Especially the leg kicking part, that’s my favorite!

Not so sober january at Kane Brewing, 2018
UN-Sober January, 2018.

But it got to a point where I started to feel so tired and out of it the day after. Some people would call this “hungover,” and I would call myself over dealing with it. I didn’t want to cope with living an entire day and fight through it anymore. The reward was not worth the consequences any longer.

At the suggestion of a good pal, I did Sober January last year as a kind of “reset.” She said that doing it for a month helped her to “do better” for the rest of the year. By “do better” she meant not drinking on weekdays and not drinking as excessively much the times she did drink. And she was right! It worked for me too and I was glad.

fight the sober january enemies.

But the problem is, even now, as “adults,” people are uncomfortable and suspicious when you don’t drink. They aren’t total dicks about it like they were in high school, but they’re always kind of WONDERING why you aren’t drinking. Are you an alcoholic? Are you pregnant? Are you, gasp, NOT FUN ANYMORE?! And the answer is no, unless it’s yes, but either way IT’S NONE OF THEIR BIZ.

Unfortunately people THINK it is their biz because of our SYSTEMIC DRINKING CULTURE. They have been brainwashed by Spuds Mackenzie and Captain Morgan and their band of wily undercover alcohol brand reps into thinking that drinking your face off every day of the week is normal and actually preferable and if you’re not doing it something is wrong with you and you’re a freak and a sellout.

Very UN-Sober January, 2015.

“Well meaning” friends and peers and associates and possibly enemies will try to talk you into drinking. They will try to talk you into staying out later. They will try to weaken your resolve and disrupt your plans to get shit done. And you must stay strong. You must fight them. Because you have plans and better shit and frankly simply feeling better and more alive ahead of you.

The reason Sober January really works is because you have a socially acceptable excuse. It’s unfortunate that you need one for people to not try to push you around, but at least for this month you have one. “It’s a new year!” you can say. “Oh sorry, Sober January!” “Oh man I wish I could drink but, you know the drill, Sober Jan! <insert meaningless eye roll that is meaningless because you don’t mean it because you actually LOVE ‘Sober Jan’ and never want it to end>”

One of the best parts of Sober January is the desserts. Because I decided that I DO need to have SOME KIND of vice because WHAT IS LIFE WITHOUT VICE?! So I just eat desserts instead of drinking drinks. I usually eat desserts anyway because I love desserts, but if I’m not drinking I feel even better about the desserts. They’re my special treat. Since I have a tendency to over-consume food and drink until I feel sick like a medieval king with gout, it’s a better choice to try to pick one or the other. And I prefer dessert eating to drinking alcohol any day of the week, and any month of the year.

Do you participate in Sober January? Do you do sober LIFE? Do you have any tips for people trying not to drink? Do you have tips for standing up to “well meaning” friends and peers that try to boss you into drinking? Do you have any ideas for fun desserts I can eat this month? Let me know.

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