40 Days, 40 Nights: 6 Ways My Life Has Changed Since Forgoing Alcohol

This summer, I was initially enrolled in classes. However, I soon dropped out.

I started down a path of self-destruction, including too much partying and drinking. I didn’t want to burden my friends with how much I was struggling, so I put on a happy face and continued to be reckless.

After I ended up in some messy situations, I realized I had to ask for help. I was miserable, so I decided to take a break from drinking to see if my life would improve.

Now, I haven’t had a drink in 40 days.

Here are six ways I feel my life has improved since:

1. I am finally out of my comfort zone.

Growing up, I was always super anxious. I would constantly be skeptical about trying new things.

A lot of the time, my anxiety prevented me from figuring out what I liked to do. Staying in my comfort zone helped me feel “safe.”

However, I can clearly see that not exposing myself to risk of failure was hurting me in the long-run. When I stopped drinking, I realized I was going to have to find other activities to entertain myself with.

I also realized I had to push myself to try a bunch of new things, in order to figure out what I liked. I was determined to fight some of my irrational fears and expose myself to things that made me anxious, such as completing a ropes course (fear of heights, check!) and paddle boarding/swimming in a waterfall (fear of fish, check!).

It turns out, facing my fears wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.

Thanks to this newfound discovery, I’ve found a bunch of new things I like.

Lately, I've felt super inspired to keep trying new things and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It feels awesome.

2. I am working on building more meaningful relationships with the people in my life.

For far too long, alcohol was the main foundation for a lot of my friendships with others. I found it hard to connect with some of them over anything other than what we did last night.

I have come to the realization that for me to feel truly connected with others, I need to be vulnerable and open. So now, I am really working on improving the relationships with people in my life.

After being in a long, unhealthy relationship where I was treated pretty poorly, I had become terrified of being intimate with others. I was seeking out other emotionally unavailable people like myself, in order to avoid any chance of intimacy.

However, over these past couple of weeks, I've been forced to put the focus on improving my relationship with myself.

As I worked on myself and starting feeling a bit better, something totally unexpected happened: I met and connected with someone.

We connected through similar vulnerabilities. As we get to know each other more, I’ve realized how nice it is to have a real, genuine bond with someone who treats me the way I deserve.

3. I am continuing to practice being vulnerable.

I originally started blogging as a way to become accustomed to putting myself out there. I started my blog as an outlet I could express myself on. It makes me feel better when I can get out what I'm feeling inside.

However, I've been struggling with being vulnerable. If I had a bad day or bad month, I would feel anxious about sharing my feelings in case someone judged me about it.

I have realized I am human.

I am far from perfect, and life is full of ups and downs. I will have good days, months and years, and bad days, months and years. I will most likely continue to make mistakes. This is the only way I’ll learn.

Alcohol was becoming a problem in my life because I was using it to cope with uncomfortable feelings and painful life events. So here I am now, taking a break from drinking and addressing underlying issues.

This doesn't mean I am never going to drink again. However, I am hoping as long as I keep working on myself, I will be able to drink in a less destructive way.

4. I am even more eager to help others and make the world better.

The definition of compassion is feeling and understanding the pain of others, and then wanting to reduce that suffering.

Throughout my life, I've become increasingly more compassionate, and eager to help others who have been through similar things. There is so much pain and suffering in this world. I feel even more motivated than usual to make a difference, whether I manage to do that in one person's life or in many.

I am planning on going to graduate school to get my masters in social work, so I can eventually get into counseling and therapy. I would love to be able to help others become the best person they can be.

5. I feel better, physically and mentally.

It is so easy to drink your calories, slack on exercise and diet after a heavy night out, especially in college.

Without really doing anything except cutting out alcohol and eating more balanced meals, I have lost over 10 pounds since I’ve stopped drinking. It feels pretty good. My complexion is much clearer, my face is less puffy and the bags under my eyes have become significantly smaller.

Not only do I look better, I also feel better.

Each morning, I wake up refreshed and motivated to do something productive with my day. I don’t wake up feeling confused, ashamed or anxious about something that happened the night before.

It’s empowering.

6. I feel a sense of gratitude I have never felt before.

I feel so thankful for everyone who has helped me get to where I am today.

Yesterday, I went on a hike with some friends, and I appreciated the whole experience more than I ever would have in the past.

It is so important to appreciate the simple things in life and to stay present.