I got sober at 19 years old, after a teenage era full of drugs, alcohol, angst, sex and rock 'n' roll. Life's supposed to be boring and serious when you're sober, right?
Nope. Not at all.
I love live music and discovering new music. Hell yes, I love music festivals.
People assume I'll get tempted to drink when I go to festivals. They assume it will be hard for me to be around a bunch of crazies on drugs. They think I couldn't possibly have fun without getting something in my system.
Cue my opportunity to shut them down.
At festivals, my pals usually imbibe several drinks (and sometimes other illicit substances).
Does it bother me? Well, it's annoying any time anyone goes overboard.
But usually, I find my tipsy BFFs hilarious, especially at a sensory event like a music festival. And honestly, I usually feel like I'm having just as much fun — if not more — than my intoxicated counterparts.
But there are really so many more reasons I enjoy going to festivals sober:
1. You find ultimate engagement in each and every act.
I attend shows and festivals because I genuinely, wholly and completely love the music, the energy and most of all, the feeling of hearing my favorite act perform my favorite song. I get to experience each note and every flash of light.
I truly have the opportunity to be fully engaged at every performance.
2. No alcohol or drugs means more endurance.
Just like we all do, by the end of a multi-day festival, I feel a little more than exhausted. But I am not dead by any means.
With the right nutrition and enough hydration, I can sober rage all night, and still get up the next day feeling OK.
I'm literally never hungover, which is the best. This makes it easier for me to be in it for the long haul and still go to work the following Monday.
3. I remember everything.
The mind is a glorious entity. In sobriety, I can soak in every moment.
I really retain every weird outfit, every band and every dance move. Meeting people becomes super fun, since I remember each person's name and backstory.
Plus, I don't have to assume I had a good time: I know for a fact that the festival rocked.
4. No one knows whether I'm wasted or not.
My friends make fun of me for my “flailing” during shows. My full-body dance seizures make me look like one of those inflatable blow-up dolls outside car dealerships.
But guess what? IDGAF.
For all everyone else at the concert knows, I'm fucked up to a whole new level. I dress up in my stupid festival outfits, and I let the randos assume I've been tripping for days.
Music festivals provide me with the ultimate freedom to act silly and totally in the moment without worrying about being judged.
5. I have more money in my pocket.
One amazing aspect of being a non-drinker is the amount of money I save. I'm not spending tons of dough on booze and substances. I'm also saved from making those impulsive, intoxicated purchases involving $50 festival crowns and $18 drunk munchies.
I get to save my calories for delicious fish tacos and ice cream sundaes.
6. Festie-bestie bonding hits a whole new level.
There are few greater bonding experiences among besties than enduring Port-A-Potties together or dancing in the rain during unexpected thunderstorms. Festivals are the ultimate friendship tests because people show you how easygoing – or how high-maintenance – they are.
By the end of each festival, I know each member of my party a little better... and it's not because we drank together. It's because we had genuine connections, and they allow for memories that will last.
By no means am I saying everyone needs to be 100 percent sober when attending a concert or festival, but you might want to take a look at your motives. Are you going just to get fucked up? Because there are many other cheaper ways to get drunk.
If you won't remember anything anyway, what's the point? Save the $400 you're going to drop on the ticket and just hit the bar if a blackout is what you're going for.
If you're like me and don't drink or do drugs, don't be afraid to live a little and get out there. There's no reason you can't go to a concert or multi-day festival.
Sure, certain people think it's a little weird that I don't drink, but I just have to own it. I'm doing me, and being myself feels fabulous.
Trust me: Even though you might feel like a freak of nature, you definitely won't be the only sober one at the festival. If you're feeling a little uneasy about the experience, don't worry: You will certainly find other sober music lovers and ravers to let loose with.
Being sober for me is not about hiding from potentially uncomfortable situations: It's about going out, living life and fully experiencing the things I love with the people I love.