I haven’t been drunk in 3 years… and I’ve been partying way more than you.
I had my last drink of alcohol 3 years ago and it’s been a dance-battling, boat-cruising, skinny-dipping, word-traveling, HUGE party ever since.
It wasn’t a choice of restriction or having less fun, but rather of fully experiencing everything and truly having the most fun possible. The way I pitched it to myself was “You should be able to do all the dumb, crazy adventurous, fun stuff you do drunk… sober. If you’re drunk, you’re not fully there. You don’t remember everything. You can’t experience the adventures fully. You’re half-assing partying!” I took the challenge, but I was in a place where one reflects on life and big changes like this are easier to make.
I had recently been recruited to work in Microsoft Live Labs getting paid $100k+ a year to do a job that didn’t take my full mental abilities. Late twenties. Newly single. Big house. Nice car. In good shape… And then I found out I had cancer under my right eye.
Basal Cell Carcinoma. I was soon told it wasn’t terminal, but having any kind of cancer in your twenties comes as a shock. And it didn’t help that I immediately started searching the web for information… where with anything medical you end up on WebMD which is a choose your own adventure that always ends up with you dieing of cancer.
I wasn’t going to die from this cancer but was going to get a big ol scar smack on my face. If you’re going to get a reminder that life is fragile and you should be living it to the fullest, in the middle of your face is actually a pretty good place to have it. My life had a dramatic moment to help me make a change, but you don’t need to get cancer to change. Every day is a dramatic moment. Every day you have the opportunity to change you life for the better. Tomorrow looks open in your calendar…
My past 3 years have been the most exciting, interesting & passionate of my life. I’ve partied in exotic places on levels that are on par for music videos. I went skinny dipping with the hottest girl from my childhood… and then married her and made a beautiful daughter. I quit my cushy job and went full-time on my startup with $1M in venture capital from top investors. I traveled to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Hawaii, Miami & Haiti. And I was fully present for all of it. I made those experiences awesome. I owned them. And I want you to experience life the same way.
If I write a book about this topic some day I’ll call it “Wasted” because that’s the perfect way to describe both sides of the coin. You get wasted drunk… and totally waste an opportunity. It’s fun beating a game on easy mode… it’s much more satisfying to beat it on hard mode.
Winning a marathon probably still feels awesome, even if you did it riding a bike… But so much better to win the race on your own two shredded legs. Making good love is amazing even if the lights are off… but do it with the lights on where you can see the person with you and remember everything… Now that’s REAL good love.
My point is. Being sober isn’t being a party pooper, it’s about being a party. All the time. If you can achieve this, to party sober and have as much fun as you would drunk… you realize you have the ability to have an awesome time anytime. It’s like finding out you have a party super-power!
And being drunk doesn’t make you more awesome, funny, adventurous and charismatic. It just helps you forget that you don’t think you are.
Lessons Learned About Sober Partying
Permission to Be Stupid.
Liquid courage is nice. It helps you get up the nerve to dance, spark up a conversation, relax… But you don’t need to drink in order to do this. Chances are if you’re in a club/bar, everybody else is drunk. Go ahead and act like an idiot. They won’t know. This is something I’ve experienced several times. Somebody will offer me a drink late into a night of partying, or 3 days into a party-fest and I’ll have to say “no thanks, I don’t drink.” Which almost always gets a “WHAT? Dude you were so fucking drunk the other night.” No dude, you were. And I was just having an awesome time along with you and you couldn’t tell the difference.
Twiddling your thumbs isn’t very sexy. Having your nose up in your phone isn’t very engaging. Truth is, having a drink in a bar/club helps socially. It gives you something to hold onto and fidget with. Taking sips allows for pauses in conversations. And cheers-ing people is pretty fun. But that drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic. A bottle of water screams “I’m sober & no fun” to drunk people, so drink something bubbly in a glass. A coke in a drink glass will just look like a jack & coke. (Warning, you can end up drinking several cans of soda in one night which isn’t very good for your body, so I recommend switching it up to something like soda-water with a splash of cranberry and a lime on the rim. Or just soda-water and a lime wedge.)
Bigger Bank Account. Smaller Waist.
In my drinking days, I could put down 8-10 drinks in a night… which can end up being your entire suggested caloric intake for a day. And at $10 a drink, you could save $4k from year of social drinking. And $4k is a trip to an exotic place and a true once in a lifetime adventure.
Best Idea Ever!
I don’t know how many times I’ve been drunk… hundreds? But I can’t say that I ever woke up the morning after and thought… “Wow, I’m so glad I did that thing I did last night. It’s significantly improved my life.“ More often than not the next morning is full of regrets. I for sure haven’t had the best mornings of my life hungover, but top 5 worst days of my life were all recovering from a lot of drinking.
Enlist Your Mates.
It was much easier to sell myself on the change then it was to sell my best friend. “Dude, you’re no fun when you’re not drinking.” Now this is a guy I’ve done countless ridiculous, well-being endangering, hilarious stuff with. And all it took was a shady sex club to convince him, I would get into whatever adventure presented itself, regardless of being sober. (It wasn’t really an eyes-wide-shut sort of thing… more awkwardly sitting in a shady theater laughing at what was going on.) If your friends can’t accept the change they’ll constantly make you not drinking an issue, even though the issue is clearly theirs. My gut tells me a few nights of awesome times sober and they’ll eventually forget the issue, and more than likely appreciate the designated driver.
I Challenge You.
I challenge you to fully realize how awesome life is. To: Party hard. Go on adventures. Make good love. Be bold. Scare yourself. Laugh it up. Be awesome. You already are, and when you can party without alcohol, the rest of your life will become a party too.