“You are bad at alcohol!” a Finnish friend of mine said seeing me sipping Tequila when I was supposed to drink it as a shot. I was 18 at the time, and my alcohol “skills” were indeed bad. They never improved as I never became a heavy drinker. Once in a while, I did drink on New Year’s Eve, birthday parties or other occasions. It was enough with a glass of wine or champagne to get tipsy. Finally, in November 2013 I quit alcohol for good. For sure, it did not happen exactly in one day; it was my lifestyle and habits that eventually led me to the right decision.
Image Credit: Peace Revolution
Sweet vs. bitter
When I was a teenager, and an opportunity came, I would try anything just to be cool and fit in the company. As I grew older and formed my own character, the first subconscious step towards quitting alcohol was understanding which alcohol I liked and which I did not. That meant saying “no” to drinks with a bitter taste, like beer, whiskey, rum, vodka and “yes” to those that had a sweet taste – white wine, cider, champagne, some cocktails. This way I was no more drinking for others, but for myself.
In 2009, I moved to Egypt. I had never lived outside Europe, so when absorbing the new culture and especially the religion (Islam), non-drinking policy came to me by itself. Since most of my friends were decent Muslims and abstained from alcohol, I rarely encountered a situation when I would need to drink. Moreover, Egyptian nightlife was more about cafés and restaurants (where they normally do not sell alcohol) rather than bars and clubs as it is in Europe. So I got used to going out for Pepsi, coffee or juice, not anymore for cider.
No money support
When back in Europe, alcohol culture became real again. But now that I was used to having a good time without alcohol, I felt unwilling to spend my money even on cider. It often happened though that I was attending a fancy reception, where a glass of wine or champagne would be offered for free. Then I said: ok if it’s for free, I can drink. Moreover, why would I miss an opportunity to taste some famous Italian, Hungarian or Georgian wine? So, this became my new rule: I won’t say “no” if it’s for free, but I would not support alcohol with my own money.
At the beginning of 2013, I moved to Brussels for a traineeship at the European Commission. Brussels, of course, is known for the famous Delirium café with thousand flavors of beer. I did not like beer, but kriek, a sweet cherry beer that tastes like lemonade. It was my true weakness. So, I broke the rule about money and allowed myself to have a pint of kriek on weekends. However, later I realized that I was spending too much money on it and also breaking my own rules. So, in the last months of the traineeship I did not even drink kriek. Instead, I was walking around with a glass of water at the final trainees’ party.
Last honey beer
When I returned home from Brussels, I moved in with my parents in a small city where I have no friends. So, no occasion to get together and drink. Moreover, my life was so much fulfilled with other activities and projects that there was no space for alcohol. Even when I sometimes happened to see my friends in Riga, I was either too busy to hang out with them or did not want to spend my money on alcohol. So, I said: “I don’t drink.” It was partly true as my alcohol consumption had decreased. Moreover, that statement made me feel somewhat proud, individual, and different, as if I was doing the right thing. Then I asked myself: why not really quit? After all, there is nothing good about alcohol. So many accidents happen and people die because they drink and drive. Also, at this time I met some people from an anti-alcohol organization who encouraged me towards such a decision. However, the final step was made on my friend’s nameday party in November 2013. After a long discussion, he convinced me to try honey beer. I thought – alright, just this time. Next morning I woke up and couldn’t believe it – I had a hangover. From honey beer?! Moreover, I had planned to work on something important, so basically my day was ruined as I was not able to have a clear and focused mind. And that’s when I finally said to myself: no more alcohol! Goodbye honey!
I understood one more thing: I care for my mind more than anything else. And I need a clear mind to think and live not only today, but also tomorrow. So, when I started the self-development program a few months later, alcohol became my easiest act of self-discipline. Moreover, seeing it written as a rule made me realize I had taken the right decision.