At the beginning of my college career, partying had somehow become equally important as studying. I refused to miss out on the opportunity to go out every weekend, most likely due to an unhealthy combination of FOMO and societal pressures. In my mind, drinking automatically made you fun and cool. Without that aspect of my social life, it would be impossible for me to make friends or have a good time at college. It was foolish of me to believe that since, as I got older, drinking only inhibited my mental health altogether.
It started toward the end of my junior year. Due to a concoction of unimportant factors, my anxiety was making a fierce comeback in my life. I was beginning to have extreme difficulty functioning on a daily basis. To make things worse, I wasn’t leading a healthy lifestyle, either. I wasn’t taking care of myself by continuing to drink. Eventually, it got to the point where any time I consumed alcohol, I would have a panic attack. I realized that alcohol was no longer something fun for me, but rather only causing negativity in my life.
Going completely sober wasn’t a difficult decision, considering I was determined to make healthier choices for the sake of my mental health, but it wasn’t something I was exactly happy about. For a long time, I equated sobriety with boredom. I was kind of embarrassed by it. It felt lame to no longer drink because of my anxiety. When I would reject drinks from friends and family, I felt obligated to explain that I wasn’t in a great mental space, and therefore alcohol just wasn’t in the cards for me. Some people understood. Some people didn’t. But the longer I went without drinking, the more I realized that I didn’t care. I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for why I wasn’t drinking. I knew I was taking care of myself and doing what I personally needed, so why should it matter?
Today, I still battle my anxiety every single day. It’s difficult. I have to work extremely hard to make sure I’m maintaining a peaceful and mindful state at all times. Fighting off panic attacks is a task in its own. But it also means that it’s deeply important for me to lead a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. For me, that consists of a sober life, too. Maybe one day I’ll be able to enjoy a drink here and there, but for right now, I’m focused on taking care of me.