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I used to think that alcohol was my key to happiness.
I remember arriving at a party wide-eyed, anxious, and insecure as a college freshman. I recall guzzling my first of many beers that night and feeling a sudden unfamiliar ease despite being surrounded by tons of strangers.
“Wow, this is it. This is what I’ve been missing,” I thought. My anxieties melted away and I found myself finally able to strike up a conversation with new people, flirt with a cute guy, or go on some crazy adventure where anything was possible. It all seemed so thrilling and so right.
I thought I had finally discovered the secret to life.
Many of us go through a party phase in our lives, but then we usually move on. I didn’t move on, and instead remained stuck in a seemingly chronic loop of destruction for years in my young adulthood. One night, one of my friends told me that I was his “favorite party girl.” I remember feeling so proud—it felt like I finally had an identity and something I was known for.
Night after night I’d drink and let the alcohol whisk me away, transforming me into this rowdy, brassy, down-for-whatever girl who was deeply at odds with my true nature. I could sometimes hear the small, still voice deep within whispering, “This isn’t you. Get out before you completely lose yourself,” but time and time again, I ignored it.
Obviously, not everyone who drinks has a problem, but in my experience, if you even have to question your drinking or partying habits, it’s probably having a negative effect to some degree.
I was a social drinker and denied that it was causing me harm because I hadn’t lost everything in my life yet. It took me five years until I realized that my partying was hurting me and to get the courage to try a different lifestyle.
There were many false starts, nights spent doubting myself, missteps, and frustration, but one day I decided I had had enough. I was tired of doing the same thing over and over again. I was ready to step with shaky legs into uncharted territory.
Making the drastic life decision to hang up your party-girl heels is scary. I get it. There’s the fear of losing friends, the fear of never having fun again, the fear of not being able to let loose and easily talk to people, the fear of losing your very identity. We get so wrapped up in this lifestyle that we lose sight of who we are and what actually makes our hearts sing.
When I used to visualize my ideal life, I would see myself on the beach in Hawaii with a piña colada in my hand or front row at a music festival double fisting $10 beers. Now, when I visualize my ideal life, I see myself backpacking in the Sierras surrounded by fresh air, wildflowers, and towering trees or traveling and actually experiencing the culture of each new place with a clear mind.
Alcohol problems come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you drink five days in a row, or maybe you only have a couple drinks every night, or even just a good binge drinking session every now and then. Maybe you’ve lost everything, or maybe you haven’t had many repercussions at all, except deep within your soul. Bottom line is, if alcohol is taking away more from you then it’s giving, it’s time to take an honest look at its presence in your life.
You don’t have to be a stereotypical alcoholic to have an issue with drinking. You don’t have to be a stereotypical alcoholic to acknowledge that alcohol is negatively affecting your life. You don’t have to be a stereotypical alcoholic to want to quit drinking, for whatever reason.
What one person considers a problem, might not a problem for someone else. I openly admit that I’m a person who became emotionally addicted and reliant on an addictive substance. Maybe this has happened to you, too. That doesn’t make us faulty or bad, it just makes us human.
Today, with much gratitude, I can say my life looks totally different in the best way possible. I am enjoying the simple beauty of life once again: a quiet walk through the wilderness, the scent of an overly-priced, but beautiful candle filling my room, looking into someone’s eyes, and knowing that we’re both fully present in that moment.
Things in general are just easier. Unnecessary drama, guilt, and consequences from poor choices are a thing of the past. I’m fully in charge of what I say, what I do, who I associate with, and how I spend my time.
Above all, I’m finally learning who I truly am.
I wore many masks during my partying days, transforming into whoever I thought I should be that night. I’m learning to value myself exactly as I am and am consequently attracting people and experiences that match who I actually am, not who I was pretending to be. I’m becoming my own best friend. I’m much more kind and compassionate to myself, and am enjoying watching my walls break down to make room for new, beautiful things to be built.
Whether or not you think your party lifestyle might be causing you more harm than good, it might be worth exploring a different path for a month to see how you feel. Your life will undoubtedly change, you might lose some friends, and you’ll probably have to do some work on yourself, but it could end up being one of the best decisions of your life. In my experience, the moment you feel like retreating back into your well-worn ways, but choose a different way instead, is the moment your life opens up to you.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m not making any progress—like I’m just treading water in an endless sea of uncertainty. But when I look at my life back then and compare it to my life now, it’s clear I’ve come a long, long way and I’m really proud of that. I’m proud that I finally chose myself and started respecting and valuing who I am as a person.
I’m happy to say, I’m no longer a party girl. I’m now a woman who is strong, confident, and, most importantly, awake.
Is your soul calling you to higher heights? Something different? A new path?
Love yourself enough to dare to explore that.
Author: Katie Koschalk
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Lieselle Davidson