What I Learned When I Stopped Going Out All The Time

It’s 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. My friends and I are all sitting on the floor of my room, mindlessly passing the time by talking, scrolling through Instagram and laughing at Snapchat stories. After some time passes, silence permeates the air, and one of us pops the inevitable question in our friend group.

“Should we go out?”

Yes, it’s a Tuesday, and yes, we have no logical reason or occasion to celebrate that requires drinking at Midtown, but this was the start of some of our most fun nights the past year and a half.

The thing is that we didn’t need a reason to go out. We would have the time of our lives even if we were the only ones at Mid. The question “How/why do you guys go out so much?” was one that my friends and I would get on a daily basis, but we just shrugged our shoulders and continued to party on. We were unsure of the answers ourselves.

And then all at once, spring semester surprised us out of nowhere and with it came a harsh reality: responsibilities.

Our classes got harder, we had to start taking more credits and waking up for 8:30 a.m. classes, we got jobs and internships, we became leaders and more involved in organizations, and we realized this going-out-on-any-given-day-of-the-week thing might not be so practical anymore.

We made a pact that we would all become “real people” (aka people who don’t start drinking at 7 p.m. and who don’t spend the whole next day hungover in bed) together this semester. While this only started with going to all of our classes, doing homework during the day and limiting going out to once or twice a week, it eventually became more of a lifestyle change – one that has taught me quite a bit.

I never realized the other kinds of fun that I was missing out on when I viewed going out as the only way of letting loose.

Maybe it’s just a Gainesville thing, but hitting the bars requires a much earlier start than I’d like to admit. When you don’t have to start getting ready for the night at approximately 5:30 p.m., you have the time to go to a sit-down meal with your friends and not rush through it but rather hang out, catch up and enjoy the whole experience.

I would have never imagined spending a night in, watching movies as my kind of fun prior to my “real person phase.” Now, however, it is one of my favorite ways to relax with my friends. There’s something about laying on the couch in my slouchiest sweatpants, eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the carton and watching funny movies with my friends that makes standing in line for Fat Daddy’s for an hour and a half in heels and a mini-skirt seem very unappealing. Where I used to have FOMO in these kinds of situations, I now feel bad for the people that aren’t experiencing the pure bliss of relaxation that movie nights bring.

Where waking up at 8:30 a.m. used to seem absolutely impossible to me almost any day of the week, it has now become a part of my daily routine. Waking up early (not hungover) and going to the gym is a guaranteed start to a productive day. Less drinking equals less drunk-eating, less sleeping in and more working out, which is an equation for a better you.

The spontaneous adventures my lifestyle change has brought me are by far my favorite aspect. Just this past Monday, my friends and I decided we should wake up at 6 a.m., get Bay Island coffee and breakfast sandwiches, drive to Paynes Prairie and watch the sunrise to start the week off right. I’d like to say that this was a beautiful, perfectly-executed experience, but the fact is that it was far from it.

My roommate and I woke up at 6 a.m. sharp and drove to pick up our other friends. When we pulled into Bay Island, we realized it didn’t open until 7 a.m. Since we were determined to carry out our plan, we got Chick-fil-a breakfast instead (which took much longer than you’d expect it to that early) and sped to Paynes Prairie so we wouldn’t miss the sunrise.

Well, not only were we still driving when it started to get brighter, but there was also so much fog that there was no sunrise that we could see.

Even though it didn’t go as planned, it still gave me and my friends a good laugh and a better game plan for the next time we tried to watch the sunrise. More importantly, we would have never even attempted something like this when we were stuck in our old ways.

Going out less makes going out more fun. When I do go out now, it feels as if I’m celebrating all of my accomplishments and hard work during the week, which makes it that much more satisfying.

Contrary to what Drake says, I started wearing more and going out less in 2018… and I kind of like it.