This year was the first I attempted a “Dry January,” and while it ended up being nothing monumental, I still have some reflections on it I feel compelled to share.
Dry January Reflections 2023
So Much of Our Social Life Revolves Around Drinking
This wasn’t a new reflection by any means. I’ve always been aware of just how much of our social lives revolves around drinking and was made doubly aware of it when someone close to me stopped. That’s when I realized I could divide my friends up into “drinking buddies”—people that are fun but whom you realize you might not have much in common with aside from “liking to go out”—and real friends, the people whom you could do any number of activities with (including nothing) and still have a nice time. I also learned then that there are a lot of people who become uncomfortable when someone else decides not to drink.
I already lived that experience through observing friends and family who’ve chosen to no longer drink for various reasons. Still, it truly was wild how often it came up during Dry January, and keep in mind, I wasn’t necessarily broadcasting that I wasn’t drinking, but when asked, I often got replies of, “well, I don’t do dry January because of a, b or c,” or “why do dry January if you don’t have a problem?” Very telling. And while I have plenty of friends who invited me to socialize during January, there were more people than I expected who gave me variations of, “I guess I’ll see you in February,” as if I were unable to get dinner or meet them for their drinks without drinking myself. Again, nothing new, but interesting to note.
So Much of It Doesn’t, Too
Contrary to what I just wrote, dry January was a nice reminder of how much there is to do that doesn’t revolve around alcohol. Part of the onus for doing dry January was saving money. I figured I’d hibernate for our darkest, coldest, most post-holiday month, but I ended up out and about just as much as the rest of the year.
You Don’t Need to Drink to Have Fun
I don’t consider myself someone who needs to drink to have fun. I love traveling, hiking, XC skiing, writing, eating, cooking, tennis, etc.—all hobbies and activities that don’t revolve around drinking. I go out for dinner plenty during wet months when I abstain from drinkings for one reason or another. That being said, I’d be lying if I said I could remember the last time I hung out with friends at a bar or party on a Friday night as the lone sober person. I thought this would be my biggest test and that I’d end up going out with people for twenty minutes and bouncing, but I discovered that when you’re with people you already know and feel comfortable with, hanging out with a bunch of drinkers while you’re not isn’t so bad (to a degree…I think the most I was out was 2-3 hours during a bowling outing, before anyone really started “to turn”…I’m confident that would be a different story).
Drinking Faster Only Gets You More Hungover
One of the biggest lessons I learned during my dry January was one I’ve always known in theory but don’t always follow: that drinking faster doesn’t make the night/day any more fun. Depending on how you look at it, I’ve been cursed/blessed with the “fast drinking” and “high tolerance” genes, which often can lead to imbibing a bit faster than is entirely necessary. Granted, it’s only been a couple of weeks since dry January is over, but I’ve found myself being a bit more mindful of how much I’m consuming when I’ve been out, which has resulted in still having fun times with friends but feeling much better the next day.
January is an Easy Month Not to Imbibe
This is where I should acknowledge that January is 100% the easiest month to do dry January. There are no holidays, or celebrations, the weather is dismal, and after the holiday, onslaught, I’m always ready to lay low.
Bowling is Fun
One of my dry January outings was a Friday night bowling session. Another friend was also doing dry January and organized it as something we could do to be social. It ended up being about eight people, and as I mentioned earlier, six of the others drinking didn’t bother me. More surprisingly, as someone who’s always been indifferent to bowling at best, I actively chose to stay for extra games after half the group left and am somewhat excited about going again (this probably goes without saying, but the bowling alley is A+ people-watching).
Rock Climbing Remains Hard
Another of my January activities was rock climbing at The Riveter (which I’ll have to review sometime because…it’s also A+ people-watching, albeit in a very different way than the bowling alley). Every time I go to the rock gym, I’m amazing just how weak my grip is. I also almost always claim I will get a pass and start regularly going, which always turns out to be one of the many lies I’m constantly telling myself.
“Stop Drinking, and the Weight Will Fall Off” is Bullshit
One of the top reasons (if not the top reason) I embarked on a dry January was to start dropping some weight. I remain the heaviest I’ve ever been.