In college, I was repulsed by non-drinkers.
It's not like I came across many, though. There was the occasional student athlete who wasn't drinking because they had a big game the next day. There was the designated driver or the casual test-taker who wanted to go out but didn't want to get slammed before an important exam.
Imagine me doing the biggest eye roll in the world every time someone said they weren't drinking.
I was that party girl who was trying to convince you to take just one shot or smoke one cigarette. I had an argument for every excuse people gave me.
I couldn't stand being in the presence of someone who didn't drink. It made me feel icky. I wanted everyone to be having the best time of their lives aka getting as drunk as possible, because what's more fun than that?
Today, I am probably the last person on the planet who you would imagine got sober, but I did.
For so long, I was incapable of even considering the fact that I drank too much. A variety of factors likely contributed to my thought process: the media, social norms and stereotypes.
I thought I was just having fun, living my life with a YOLO mentality. It never occurred to me that addiction is a spectrum. I didn't have to lose my job or drink all through the morning to have issues with alcohol.
When I finally realized my life became unmanageable and almost every negative thing in my life was preceded by alcohol, I thought sobriety might be the best solution.
At first, I was ashamed and nervous to say that I no longer drink, and I dreaded every conservation related to alcohol. What will I say? What will they think of me? Do I call myself an alcoholic? Three years later, I can honestly say I am no longer embarrassed.
Here are five reasons why I'm no longer afraid to admit my sobriety:
I am proud of my sobriety.
It's been liberating to know that I do not have to be ashamed that I no longer drink. It was a long, hard road to get here, and today, I am proud of my sobriety. It makes me different.
It means that I've overcome a great deal of adversity and pain. It means I choose not to lose control and make bad decisions under the influence of alcohol. In a world full of alcohol-related temptation, being sober, to me, is an act of courage.
Alcohol is not the center of the universe.
If you spend any time on the internet, on social media or watching television, you'll notice how prevalent alcohol advertisements actually are.
Sobriety has taught me that alcohol is not the center of the universe. Alcohol is not a miracle drug. It won't solve your problems or eliminate your health concerns. Instead, it covers them up and lets them fester.
I'm happy to know alcohol no longer dictates how I live my life. I no longer scope out the liquor selections at birthdays, weddings or holidays beforehand. Taking booze out of the equation has generally made my life a lot easier.
Anything I did drinking, I can do sober.
Before I stopped drinking, I believed that my sober experiences would never be as fun as the times I spent drinking.
In reality, I can do all of things I did drinking while sober.
I can still have fun, be social, go to bars and clubs, attend weddings and birthday parties and even go to house parties. In fact, I feel like I have more freedom now than I did in my drinking days.
Now, I remember everything. I get to choose when I want to go somewhere and when I want to leave. I don't rely on designated drivers or on friends to tell me what happened the next day. I can also better organize my life by being mindful, present and accountable.
I refuse to contribute to the stigma of addiction.
If I stayed quiet about my recovery or made up reasons why I'm not drinking, I would contribute to the huge stigma that still surrounds addiction.
There's nothing to be ashamed about or keep hidden. We must speak out about addiction and recovery, or people dealing with addiction will never feel like they can ask for help. The stigma will weaken if we refuse to contribute to it.
I've worked hard to get to this point. If I can change one life because I am open about my story, then sharing my struggle is worth it.
I am who I am because of my sobriety.
I don't know if all people in recovery feel this way, but I believe I am who I am today because of my addiction and my sobriety.
Had I not finally put down the bottle, I would have continued on an endless search for "more," whether it was alcohol, drugs, men or material things.
I'm not embarrassed to say I no longer drink, because it was a positive decision for my life. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
It's not just about removing harmful substances from my life, although that was the first step. Rather, sobriety has taught me a lot about who I am, who I want to be and what I want out of life. I am able to harness my emotions and make good, conscious decisions because of the coping mechanisms and life skills I've learned in recovery.
I wouldn't give that up for a margarita, a dirty martini or a single bag of cocaine.
Once I got sober, it was clear to me that I couldn't continue using substances like alcohol and drugs and participating in my toxic patterns of behavior.
When you look within, you begin to understand how beautiful life can be without the harmful parts, and you don't want to go back.
I'm not embarrassed to say I don't drink anymore. I'm proud. I fought hard to get here. Fortunately, there's enough recovery for everyone.