Ever since I puked all over my neighbor’s doormat on my 16th birthday, I saw myself as some kind of alcohol enthusiast. In my teenage years I liked how drinking created a sense of community. Me and my friends would often get together on the weekends with the sole purpose of getting drunk, downing cheap wodka with orange juice on some park bench. It honestly was a lot of fun, and at that moment it didn’t feel as pointless as it seems now when looking back at these times. It gave us a feeling of being grown-ups and an excuse to act even more childish than normally, it allowed us to think that we are outlaws and bending the rules of society, while in fact fulfilling every stereotype about teenagers there is. For experiencing all that, the hangover the next day was a cheap price to pay.
Then I went on to college and it didn’t take long until I fully embraced the party lifestyle. Cocktail happy hours on Tuesdays, pre-party and then clubbing on Wednesdays, beerpong tournaments on Thursdays, house-parties on the weekends. It didn’t matter if I lived in Czech Republic like during my exchange semester abroad, where you get both a beer and a shot in a bar for 1€, or in Sweden, where I did my master and where a single shot can cost about 10€. I loved the party lifestyle and gladly accepted the drinking that came with it.
I am not a big fan of drinking “just a little” either. Quite frankly I never understood the people who can have two beers, but then stop and be content with it. If I go, I go all out! I want things to escalate, I want shit to go down! That’s the fun of going out for me, and alcohol is an excellent catalyzer for that. When I wake up at 6am on the 4th floor of the building next to the club where I originally started the night; when I find my bed completely sticky the next morning and then vaguely remember that the night before I thought it would be a good idea to pour jello shots down my pants; when after a bottle of wodka I let my housemate pierce my ear with a hot needle; when I stumble into my kitchen hungover, only to find my floor covered with peanuts and a girl that I had never seen before sleeping on the table- those are the utterly bizarre, yet hilarious moments I just love to experience and want to keep experiencing in the future! And they simply don’t happen when you limit yourself to two beers.
The problem is that none of this is healthy or sustainable in the long run. As a college student in your early twenties you just don’t care and I think it is ok to act like that. Your body can handle it, your mind can handle it, and you don’t have a lot of responsibilities anyway. But if you keep living like that for too long, never reflecting, never thinking twice, this lifestyle will take its toll. Alcohol has a way of slowly eroding good habits and replacing them with bad ones. After a night of drinking, instead of cooking a healthy meal, you will just order pizza. Instead of reading a good book and then going for a run in the park, you will lie in bed and watch movies. Instead of excelling at your job, you will just hope to survive the day in the office without throwing up.
All these little things add up over time, year after year. You don’t see the results right away when you’re young, but you will notice them when you are suddenly 35, chubby body, lazy mind, and stuck in a dead-end job. Of course you will still be able to fulfill your daily ordinary tasks then, but you won’t have the drive anymore that is necessary to achieve something extraordinary.
So where does that leave us? I honestly don’t know. Alcohol can be a lot of fun, but also be harmful when consumed too excessively. Nothing new there. I guess everyone has to know for themselves what they want to achieve in life and then check whether getting drunk too often might be a factor that keeps them from achieving these goals.
I for one graduated a couple of months ago and decided to shift my focus away from partying for a while and towards other areas of my life that I had been neglecting lately. I haven’t been drinking for the last three months now and since then have been more active, more productive and more creative in many other hobbies that I want to pursue, for example sports, reading or writing. But does that mean that I will never drink again? Absolutely not! I merely believe that every once in a while it is important to reflect on existing habits and call into question whether they might have counterproductive effects on other areas of your life. And after ten years of drinking, I just reached that point.