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When you’re used to taking shots before any social interaction, it feels weird when you show up anywhere sober. But I learned that it’s actually better this way.
Let’s face it, socializing is something that is historically associated with alcohol. If you’ve watched television, surfed the Internet, or even browsed your Facebook feed, you’ve seen advertisements from the alcohol industry—or pop culture sites in general—on what you should be doing on a Friday night, what you should be mixing your vodka with, and how you can meet good-looking people at the bar. It’s one reason it took me such a long time to try sobriety. I truly thought the only way to socialize was by going out for drinks or by eyeing up my next boyfriend from across the club while listening to “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”
It took me a little while to adjust to life sober and socializing has been a big part of that. When you’re used to taking shots before any social interaction, it feels weird when you show up anywhere sober. Each event and situation that I participated in sober was a new learning opportunity, and they proved to me that socializing sober is much better than socializing drunk.
1. It’s genuine
I was always the drinker who felt these deep spiritual connections with their drunk friends. I would meet someone at a nightclub in a bathroom at 2 a.m. and she would just get me. We’d be besties for the rest of the night. Sometimes these “friendships” lasted and we’d become party pals. I had tons of party pals, people who I could call on any day at any time and convince them to drink with me. Since getting sober, I’ve come to realize just how fake these connections were. It takes a lot more than sharing tequila shots to become close with another human. Sobriety has shown me that genuine connections are made with a clear head.
2. It doesn’t entail a hangover
Socializing for me in active addiction always had a hangover attached to it. That’s because I didn’t know how to socialize without consuming alcohol. I won’t lie to you, I had a lot of fun on some days while drinking, but the price I always paid was a nasty hangover. No matter how much fun I thought I was having, the next day I paid for it. Socializing sober doesn’t require the social currency of a hangover. Today when I socialize, I get to wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.
3. You develop connections that have substance
Along with drunk connections not being genuine, they also don’t have substance. When I got sober, I left a lot of friends behind because I realized we had nothing in common. What we had in common previously was drinking and drama. Once you leave that stuff behind, you realize you need to socialize with other people who have similar world views and goals. It’s easier to find people like this when you are sober, understand what you’re looking for in this life, and go out to the right places and get it.
4. You don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself
My drinking years were a long history of embarrassing situations. I know people who drink and aren’t alcoholics who have embarrassed themselves, at least a time or two, while indulging in alcohol. The beauty of socializing sober is that you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself! Of course, it’s possible to make a mistake or do something silly while sober, but not to the extent that I used to do it when I was drinking. I can make the conscious decision to behave in a certain way while socializing instead of leaving it up to who I become during a blackout.
5. You can remember all your conversations
Do you know how many times people confided in me and told me serious stuff while I was intoxicated? More times than I can count. Not only that, serious things in my life happened—surgeries, deaths, and other important events that I can hardly recall. It pains me to know that I can’t remember crucial details of my life due to my addiction. Now that I move through the world sober, I can remember all of my conversations, big and small.
6. You might find new hobbies you love
Socializing sober has been advantageous because I’ve found new hobbies I never knew I liked. It’s a common misconception that you won’t have fun in sobriety and that socializing is hard. But the truth is, you find new ways to socialize. I’ve started CrossFit and have met new people through that community. Sobriety offers time to find new hobbies and new friendships with people who enjoy those hobbies.
7. Friendship will be based on values, not booze
I never realized how my entire life was based around alcohol until I got sober. I thought I was drinking like any other 20-something party girl. It wasn’t until I looked deep within and examined my relationships, that I realized I sought out “friends” who could drink a lot, who liked to go to the same nightclubs as me, and had connections to get drugs. It might seem like common sense, but these are not the qualities that make up a good friend! Today, my sober friendships are based on real values like loyalty, honesty, and reliability.
8. I have the choice to socialize or not
I never realized it until I got sober, but socializing became forced for me, meaning drinking was equated to socializing and socializing was equated to drinking. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I felt like I had to put on a face, be the life of the party, and act like I was enjoying and interacting with people no matter what. Now that I’m sober, I get to choose if I want to socialize or not—what a crazy concept. I also don’t equate socializing with drinking anymore.
Once I made the separation of drinking and socializing, it made sense to me why socializing is so much more enjoyable sober. You can be who you are and thrive in any situation. Of course, it took time to adjust to being a part of a crowd sober, making friends without exchanging shots of tequila, and knowing when I just want to stay home on a Friday night. But socializing has become one of my favorite things about being sober. All I have to worry about when socializing now, is being myself.
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida whose work has been published on the Huffington Post among other sites. She writes about her life as a former party girl living in recovery on The Adventures of The Sober Señorita.