I’ve never had a problem with alcohol, nor did this decision and post come from fear of a potential problem. If you looked at the bell curve of alcohol consumption across America, my habits would fall in the middle. The majority of social interactions take place at happy hours or in bars - so drinking and socializing culturally go hand-in-hand.
For the record, I don’t dislike drinking. I enjoy drinking and socializing. The problem is that the effects of drinking last beyond the social part. If I grab 1-2 drinks with someone after work, I won’t have a buzz, but I also feel lazy. I don’t have the ability to think as clear and I will just waste time.
My time is valuable, especially my free time. A 1-hour social interaction actually costs 3 hours - that’s expensive. I value sharp mental clarity. A casual social setting is a time when I don’t need it - but I want it for the rest of the time. If I could close my tab at a bar and be immediately back to 100%, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
In May, I challenged myself to quit drinking for the month. I was surprised to find it easy. My only complaints were that sparkling water got old and I wished that bars carried more non-alcoholic options. Although easy, it’s too extreme to adopt permanently. I have since developed the following rule:
I will only drink if the social engagement spans the rest of my day. I will not drink for anything else.
This is easy to follow. For big events such as parties or weddings - where the rest of my time for the day is allocated to the event - I will drink. For everything else (e.g. happy hours, casual beers, etc.), I won’t.
I have no intention to avoid or reduce my social interactions. It’s nice that most people respect my decision - some even seem a bit envious. I’m still open to catch up over a drink, but I will order seltzer.