I remember the good old days (I admit I cringed writing that), when my favorite place in the world, the place I felt most at home, was the club.
As party girls, we spent days catching up on sleep, woke up at 9 pm to get ready so we could meet the promoter at midnight on the dot because we never waited in lines.
We'd see our club friends, painted in the shattered, fluorescent light of a disco ball, never really knowing what they looked like in the daytime. We hit up the after parties, chain smoking and watching the sun come up over the lined brownstones on the roof of some five-story walkup in the East Village.
It was an exciting time: I was young, I was free; I was a party girl.
And there wasn’t much responsibility, either. I felt like my club friends and I would be together forever -- like this was a life I could go on living until the day I died, or my feet fell off from dancing.
But as most things go, eventually this life began to wear on me — it began to feel tired.
There comes a point when you start to feel like you've sat on one too many rooftops, puffed one too many Marlboro Reds with one too many drugged-up friends and you realize this life is as shallow as tumblers of watered-down vodka. It's vacuous and dry.
It becomes obvious this life has no real permanence, and these people are not real friends -- they're not in it for the long haul... just until the drugs are gone, and the music is turned off.
It stops being fun and starts being laborious.
Going out is no longer something you look forward to, but something you dread. The music isn’t pumping; it hurt your ears. The place isn't hopping; it’s f*cking crowded.
Once the party is over in your party-girl soul, it's over forever. You want something more tangible -- a career -- something to be proud of. You want to complete projects and gain respect from superiors, not complete drinks and gain the respect of bouncers.
And so, after years of being the life of the party, you pull the plug — hang up your knock-off Hervé dress and put your spiked heels in the back of your closet. You change your life, get a job and become an adult.
While this is all part of life, a reformed party girl faces struggles making it in the real world. You have to learn how to go to bed at 10 pm, wake up on time to be at work at 9 am and eat foods good for your body instead of surviving off $1 pizza and Svedka.
These are the struggles of being a retired party girl:
1. You have trouble cutting yourself off when you reach a buzz.
You never had limits on drinking before now. You always went to the club, blacked out and acted like a hot mess with no consequences. Everyone was a hot mess.
But now you’re a responsible adult, you have to teach yourself to have limits and to stay in control. Sometimes it’s better just not to drink than to risk accidentally getting sloppy.
2. You get FOMO when you go to bed at 10.
Ten o’clock comes around, and you can barely keep your eyes open -- and yet are stricken with anxiety because you know your old crew is getting ready to go out.
It makes you feel like you’re missing something. This could be the legendary night you all always promised to have. What if you’re not there and the story of a lifetime fails to include you?
3. You ditch the guy behind the DJ booth for a guy behind a desk.
You’ve traded in guys with tattoos for guys in tailored suits -- guys you thought were exciting for guys you know are stable.
The problem is these adult guys you’re dating are so unlike the ones you’re used to being with. You find them slightly dull and find yourself frequently wishing they had an edge.
4. When you're sick, none of your club friends will take care of you.
Your once fantastic and fabulous friends don’t seem to be so fabulous when you actually need them to be.
You go through hundreds of contacts, texting everyone you know, hoping someone will bring you a ginger ale. And you never get a reply.
It feels like the "friends" you were so sure about were only interested in talking to you when you wanted to party.
5. You have to completely alter your sleep schedule.
Now that you’re strapped into the old 9 to 5, you have to change the way you sleep entirely. While you might be used to sleeping the day away, only getting up for classes in college and then pulling your sh*t together at 9 pm, you now know you need to go to sleep at a reasonable hour so you're up and ready for work.
Your night owl days are far behind you because the early bird catches the worm.
6. You realize you're going to need to buy a whole new wardrobe.
Your closet's stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with Band-Aid dresses, sheer tights and club heels. You realize your first few real paychecks are going to have to go toward buying new clothes.
You can’t show up at the office wearing an outfit that looks like you swallowed half of it.
7. You try not to resent your bae for never wanting to go out.
Your adult boyfriend is one who keeps you grounded, turning out the lights by 10 and keeping his drinking strictly for the weekends. While you respect him and are happy he’s a guy with his life together, you find it difficult to stave off the itch to go dancing.
8. On the rare occasion you do end up at the club, you realize you're the oldest girl there.
Clubs are crowded and while you once delighted in the scene and pumping music, you now just find it claustrophobic and deafening. All the girls who surround you barely look old enough to pass for 21.
It makes you feel old, which only makes you grumpy.
9. Your emergency contact is still your mom.
While you were busy partying away your late teens and early twenties, you suddenly realize you forgot to do something very important — make real ride-or-die friends.
You might have one or two people in your life you legitimately trust, but your mom is still occupying the number one slot.
10. Having a cigarette makes you feel like a criminal.
When you were living the party girl life, you had no problem chain smoking under the pathetic shelter of a heat lamp and faux fur jacket, surrounded by drunk party people.
Now when you indulge in a cigarette, you can feel the eyes strangers burning into your skull, judging you. Your once gallant, carefree behavior seems immature and ridiculous.
11. You fear permanent damage from your previous lifestyle choices.
Now that you’ve stopped drowning your liver in vodka cranberry and actually taken up residence in adult life, you find yourself wondering if all of those years of beating up your body have caused cirrhosis and lung cancer.
Though you’ve turned down somewhat, you hope those reckless years won’t haunt you in the future.
12. You used to be carefree, but now you just constantly worry.
You no longer feel like "the world is your oyster," and "nothing can hold you down." You worry about everything -- bills, health insurance, excelling in your career. You have real responsibilities now and though it's a really excellent thing, it can stress you out.
13. You wonder if having your sh*t together means it's all downhill from here.
If the party's over, what happens next?
14. You don't fit in with the party kids anymore, but you don’t fit in with the adults either.
You used to feel like you were at the center of it all — a whimsical party girl with all of the hookups. Now, as a reformed child of the dance floor, you’ve outgrown your club friends, but still don’t feel like you’re a real grownup.
You don’t want to talk about Tiësto, but you don’t want to talk about Martha Stewart either.
15. The most exciting thing about your week is your company happy hour.
You look forward to this one night of fun all week long. It’s your only chance to let loose (a little bit) and enjoy yourself. You used to party every night -- and every night was the most exciting night of your life.
Now, you’re just a grownup with errands to run in the morning.
16. You never used to wait in line.
You now find yourself waiting in line for the most exclusive club in town: the line for Trader Joe's.