This article was recently featured on Stuff.co.nz.
Disclaimer: I’m no longer a non-drinker (I’m now a wine lover who wants to own a winery!), but I’m still a big believer in sobriety leading to productivity and in drinking in moderation – if you can only have fun whilst drinking then I highly recommend reading the below, who knows what turn you’re life may take, just as mine did.
I don’t often talk about my five-year long sobriety, but after almost being attacked by a man with a steel baseball bat last night near my East London apartment, I thought it was about time to answer the most frequent question I’m asked on a night out: “Why don’t you drink?”
I initially gave up drinking for health reasons. I had an unrelated illness and decided to detox for a couple of months. Before I knew it, eight months had passed, and it hit me one day – my life was now so much happier, healthier and more fulfilling.
I was studying law at Canterbury University at the time and up until then my life had revolved around drinking. Any time I wasn’t studying I was drinking, or talking about drinking, or hungover from drinking.
The lack of alcohol in my life left a huge void that I started to fill with interesting and fulfilling things. I picked up my passions again. I started writing and within a couple of months became a columnist. I picked up flying lessons that had previously seemed too hard to accomplish and within a year I became a private pilot.
I celebrated my 21st birthday by flying the length of New Zealand landing at 21 airports – something that was much more fulfilling than downing 21 shots.
I also reignited my passion for travel and have since visited 12 different countries, including living in New York City for a year with a dream job at a digital design firm.
Now I live in East London and work for a creative agency and it was here in East London where I was reminded of another good reason why I don’t drink – safety.
I was walking home with my housemates from a party in a very quiet area. I was aware it wouldn’t be safe to walk alone there, so I had waited for them to leave so we would all walk together. Even so, a menacing man with a metal baseball bat, who had two accomplices, began following us.
By some miracle, a police car was driving past moments later and because I was sober and aware, I was able to run (from behind a car where I was now hiding) and tell them about the man who was now running away with the bat.
I do feel somewhat secure in the knowledge that I was able to assess the situation and would probably have been able to run away and get help if the police hadn’t fortuitously arrived. If I was under the influence I’m not so sure.
It feels great to have control over your own life. Since I quit drinking I only do things I actually want to do. No artificial fun.
I get my highs naturally from success, adrenaline activities and my passions. My life has been completely renewed; it’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would want to drink.
So when I’m asked that oft-asked question, I’m always tempted to ask the never asked question: “Why do you drink?”