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A Toast to Change: How I’m Navigating the 2024 Sober-Curious Wave

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

In recent months, my digital feeds, news articles, and even casual conversations with friends have consistently gravitated towards a subject that has piqued my interest: “sober curiosity.” The emergence of this trend ranged from my newfound awareness of the Dry January Challenge, a month dedicated to abstaining from alcohol, to trending discussions on the concept of “micro-dosing” as a substitute for alcohol consumption. But what really caught my attention was a conversation with a friend I made on vacation. She was a few years my senior, and had chosen a sober lifestyle for five years to enhance her mental health. Our heartfelt discussion about her lifestyle choice prompted me to reflect on my own habits, leading me to ask myself a fundamental question: Why do I drink?

The entire concept of sober curiosity revolves around this “why” mentality— “The idea is to question the personal and societal reasons why you drink rather than mindlessly sipping”.

I wouldn’t claim that I’ve ever been genuinely worried about my alcohol choices per se, but what I’ve never really pondered about is the mindful decision-making behind why I grab that extra drink or two. When I took a step back and reflected on those nights out, especially the ones that resulted in “hangxiety” filled mornings (cue the hangover remedies and apology texts), I notice a pattern. I often drank because “it would be boring if I didn’t” or because everyone was doing it. In western university culture, it’s challenging not to get caught up in that mindset. I’ve witnessed many close friends and loved one’s struggle with the societal pressures to “keep up” and “let loose.”

Beyond my reflections, I took a moment to consider the messages I’ve been fed about alcohol over the years. What I’ve noticed is how alcoholism or excessive drinking is often normalized in your early 20’s and throughout college/university years. It’s almost like this unwritten rule – a rite of passage because, well, you’re in college and everyone’s doing it.

For instance, look at TikTok sensation Alix Earle, a UMiami graduate. A significant chunk of her online presence revolves around the party scene and those inevitable hungover mornings. No shade to her – everyone’s got their thing. But it’s not just her; many other influencers seem to paint these habits as something you “go through” as part of the “college experience,” and these messages get passed along as the social norm.

As someone who struggled with their mental health, I realized this step towards navigating a sober-curious lifestyle, or at least a more conscious one will help me a lot in the long run. I know it would be ignorant to proclaim myself as someone who will never drink again, so I won’t! And I certainly won’t be judging others who choose to, but I’ll devote myself to making more conscious choices. Luckily for me, and anyone else venturing on this 2024 New Year’s path, the widespread interest in this topic has led to an abundance of helpful resources. So, this change of lifestyle will feel manageable knowing that a lot of us are in this together. My go-to favourite tips thus far include:

1. Entering My Mocktail Era

Pinterest has piqued my interest in learning how to make fun mocktails at home because it’s always nice to have a sweet, fun drink before going out or during dinner! If you’re a peach-lover, check out this recipe for a frozen peach Bellini mocktail.

2. Reading Books/Blogs

As I mentioned before, 2024 is the year that many people are trying out this alcohol-free lifestyle, so there are many great reads out there. Poosh  (Kourtney Kardashian’s wellness blog) has excellent posts about this topic, ranging from mocktail recipes, to health benefits and more! For something more on the educational side, up next on my reading list is “Sober Curious: the Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” by Ruby Warrington.

3. Planning Events that Don’t Require Alcohol

Obviously, making adjustments in other areas of my life are necessary to help shift this change in lifestyle. Planning entails choosing activities that don’t involve consuming alcohol every weekend, such as steering away from the bar or club scene. Instead, I’ve looked into fostering some new hobbies with friends such as Pilates classes, pottery classes, and even a cute girl’s night in watching movies; a perfect time to test out the mocktails!

I’m excited about this journey and thankful for the messages and people that led me to choose this lifestyle. I look forward to seeing where it goes, and good luck to anyone trying it, too! Here’s a toast to change and conscious choices.

Cassandra is an executive writer at Her Campus, McMaster chapter. She plays a pivotal role, where she provides insight and direction for content creation. Beyond her campus, Cassandra is currently in her third year at McMaster University, pursuing a BA in Honours Social Psychology with a concurrent certificate in Business Administration. Professionally, she holds the position of Clinical Administrative Assistant at the Family Psychology Centre in Toronto. In this capacity, she collaborates closely with psychotherapists, amassing invaluable, real-life experience in the realm of child psychology. Recently, she has also embarked on a short-term marketing project with Everwell Counselling. This venture not only provides her with a deeper insight into psychology but also offers an opportunity to apply her technical and digital writing expertise in the domain of social media marketing. In her free time, Cassandra has a passion for working with children, often babysitting, fueled by her aspiration to one day venture into the field of child psychology or family counselling. She's deeply engrossed in understanding the nuances of mental health, with a particular interest in both sexual and mental wellness. Always up for an adventure, Cassandra enjoys hiking with friends, shopping, and exploring new coffee shops and restaurants. As a true extrovert, she thrives on meeting new people and effortlessly forms bonds, constantly expanding her circle of friends.