As of one week ago, I am officially in my last month as an undergrad, which means an insane amount of final homework and papers. I now have post-graduation plans, which include moving back in with my parents and commuting an hour to and from a job every day. I recently found out that my boyfriend will be moving and living three hours away, which equates to a long-distance relationship in my mind.
And so on. You get the point. So much is changing, and I’m just not convinced that I’m ready.
I know that this transition period is not unique to me. All of my classmates are going through it as well, but here’s the thing: they can go out, drink, and forget about it for a bit. Although I’m sure that’s not the driving force behind their drinking, it’s got to be nice to be able to let loose and allow those pressing matters to take up residence in the back of their minds rather than the forefront.
But that’s not an option for me. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. Of course it’s an option. It’s always an option to go pick up a drink. But it’s a choice not to. So why should “sober you” keep making that choice, even when it feels like life is kicking your ass?
1. You’re probably an inspiration to someone. While you may not know it, someone likely admires you for your choice to be sober. More often than not, your story has affected someone more than you know. Don’t shatter that by giving in to stress.
2. Your life is better this way. If you got sober, it was because your life was not what you wanted it to be. If you pick up a drink, this will likely be the case again, and quickly. Don’t let stress and uncertainty take that away from you.
3. Opening the door to one addiction leads to another door and another addiction. Luckily, I only ever dealt with alcohol as an addiction, but there were a few times that I cut while under the influence, thinking it would alleviate the pain. It didn’t. I never cut sober, so clearly the alcohol had something to do with that blurred decision making. It makes sense.
4. You’ll want to remember this time later on. Even though it seems like life is kicking your ass, you’re probably gaining some valuable lessons, insight and information for down the road. Drinking yourself into oblivion would just undo that. A few weeks down the road, you’ll be glad for the chaos and stress of this time because it taught you, as life has a way of doing.
5. A hangover will just exacerbate the force of said kick in the ass. Hangovers make everything worse. Everything. If you’re already stressed out and overwhelmed, a pounding head and turning stomach will not help. In fact it will do the opposite—it will just make everything seem less achievable.
6. You’ll avoid making stupid, drunken decisions. If you’re sober, you’re no stranger to a past where you woke up in the morning with major regrets from the night before. When life is already kicking your ass, the last thing you need is additional stress created by choices made while intoxicated.
7. Your emotions should not dictate your life. Yes, this is easier said than done. But really, being stressed out and uncertain about points in life is normal. There is nothing unique about it, it’s just something you have to push through and feel. Numbing won’t do any good because the stressors will still be present, waiting to be confronted.
8. You’ve worked hard for your sobriety. Actually, I can’t speak for you. But I’ve worked harder for these almost-two-years of sobriety than I’ve worked for most things in my life. The last thing I want to do is throw that all away so that I can de-stress for a few hours. Because that’s all it would be—a few hours—and then back to reality. It’s not worth it.
9. You won’t have to explain yourself. Again, I can only speak for myself, but I know if I were to go out to a bar in this college town and get a drink, it would be in front of about 50 people who know I am sober, including the bartender. I would have a lot of justifying to do, which would just result in shame and guilt. I kicked shame and guilt out of my life a long time ago, and I don’t want to let them back in.
10. If you were strong enough to get sober, then you’re strong enough to get through this, too. (Whatever “this” may be) Getting sober was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Therefore, this chaotic time of my life has got nothing on it. Nothing. If I can get and stay sober, then I can make it through this stressful few weeks without losing that sobriety. I can, and I will, one day, one hour, one minute at a time.