I have way too much to lose now.
“Don’t be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón
When I stopped drinking over three years ago, it was a little experiment to see if I could possibly be successful as an entrepreneur.
I had left my previous company and was 18 months into pretty much failing miserably at trying to run my own company. I had made close to no money after leaving my company last year and was close to making not much more than that in the current year.
It was November of 2018, and I didn’t have anything that had happened in the past 10 months for me to believe the next two months were going to be any different.
As I made the decision to stop drinking to see where it led, I pretty much had the thought process of “What do I have to lose,” as my life was nowhere near what I thought it would be at that point.
Fast-forward three years, and my life is so much better than it was that the thought of ever having a drink again scares me about as much as anything could right now.
To the point that even an accidental drink makes me cringe, as I think about how far I’ve come related to not allowing alcohol to control my life anymore.
While I was drinking, I felt that alcohol gave me a lot in terms of confidence and willingness to do and say a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done without it. This, in turn, did allow me to experience things that I’ll never forget.
However, as I now think about my life and take an assessment of where I am now versus where I was three years ago, there are a number of things that are so tremendously better, there’s no way I could ever drink again, as keeping them would be impossible.
When I decided to stop drinking with my wife in 2018, our relationship wasn’t bad by any means. We had been dating for two years at that point and had decided to move in together, so clearly things were going in the right direction.
The difference now, however, is that the bond we have been able to build from going through sobriety together and experiencing alcohol-consciousness as a couple has elevated our relationship to an entirely different level.
We were lucky enough to not have fallen into all the pitfalls of why alcohol makes it difficult for relationships to last, but that is not to say that we wouldn’t have with time.
Before, we had a great relationship because we enjoyed drinking and partying together. We liked to have a lot of fun hitting the streets of Atlanta and traveling the world experiencing all that the world had to offer.
This didn’t call for us to have much in terms of a great communicative relationship that allowed us to share our feelings and thoughts with each other all the time. Instead, we just drank and partied together like two college-age students.
When we stopped drinking and had to find other things to do with our time instead of finding fun at the bottom of a Ciroc vodka drink, we were forced to do other things with our time and talk more to really get to know each other.
Not to say that I didn’t know that we had a special relationship before or else we wouldn’t have moved in together.
However, as we began to spend more time talking about our feelings, as well as hopes and dreams for the future, our appreciation and love for each other grew because our relationship was being built on something more than just a good time.
Now, three years later, it continues to grow and evolve, and I don’t want to lose that evolution by partaking in anything that alcohol could offer.
My fitness level
I’ve written about this numerous times, so there isn’t much new to say about this, but my fitness level is at its top peak at my current age of 40 plus years.
While I may have been able to run a bit faster when I was in my teenage years, there is no doubt that overall I am the fittest that I have ever been from a strength and functional response standpoint.
I am able to do things now with my body that I couldn’t even imagine doing when I was younger, and I continue to impress myself as I get stronger, lither, and more balanced overall.
Not only am I stronger from a workout and just an overall physical fitness standpoint, but my intellectual understanding of what is important to my overall health is beyond anything that I knew in my younger days.
Making sure I get as much sleep as possible, eating the right foods, and making sure to keep my stress to a minimum are the stalwarts of what is important to me now and have made all the difference in the world.
Alcohol ruined all of these things in a number of ways and going back to a life in which these aren’t at the top of what I consider in regards to my everyday health is just not an option.
My mental clarity and dexterity
When I was younger, there wasn’t a lot that I felt I couldn’t do from a mental standpoint.
I was great at math academically and could wrap my head around pretty heady theoretical concepts related to such subjects as quantum physics and calculus.
Once I started drinking in college, however, my ability to think in an abstract manner and theoretically reduced dramatically, as the effect of alcohol on my cerebral cortex began to take hold. Sure, I was still able to digest some basic concepts and remember various things related to doing my day-to-day job of sales.
However, as it related to having the higher-level modes of intelligence that would allow me to ingest strategically more advanced concepts, I found myself not performing at the level of which I felt I should be capable.
As shared in a previous article, drinking excessively and trying to accomplish higher-level intellectual thinking are two things that just don’t typically mix very well, and I did not realize this until I finally stopped drinking.
Fast forward three years, and I won’t say that I am able to do any sine and co-sine calculus equations, but I can definitely say that my ability to retain more information and think strategically has increased dramatically from where it was before I quit drinking.
Before, whenever I would learn a new concept, I might remember it for the first few weeks after I read a book or went through a seminar, but it would disappear from my consideration set of ideas pretty quickly, as I would wash it away with alcohol.
Now, I won’t say that I remember everything I learn, but I do find myself able to pull from various concepts that I obtained from some time ago, and I don’t think this would’ve ever happened had I still been drinking.
This has made a tremendous difference in my personal endeavors (I’m still learning to speak Korean) and professional career that has helped me in numerous ways.
This last part is probably the one that has been the biggest life lesson for me that is hard to even explain how important it is.
Growing up, I feel that I was a typical teenager from a small town who wasn’t exposed to many of the various things that life has to offer. I also didn’t have a father in my life to teach me many of the things that some would consider important for you to know to grow up as a “man” in this world.
This caused me to sometimes have anxiety in situations in which I was not exposed to on a regular basis, e.g., being comfortable around the opposite sex when I may have “liked” someone.
When I got to college at 18 years old and had to try to figure many of these things out for myself, it only took me a year to figure out if I drink this thing called alcohol, it would take away a lot of the natural anxiety that I had in these situations.
Perhaps this is not a big deal, as most kids do this at such a young age. However, for me, and I would venture to say for probably a lot of other people, I began to use this as a crutch in almost any situation in which I had anxiety of any kind.
As shared in another article, it is one of the three ways that it will always hold you back in life.
Since I had created a world in which I need alcohol to feel comfortable in those types of socially anxious situations, I didn’t allow myself the ability to develop my natural skills to feel confident in them without it.
This hampered my overall development and made it impossible for me to experience the growth needed to be comfortable on my own.
Now that I’ve been alcohol-conscious for so long and have done the hard work of working through these types of situations without anything but my wit and emotional stability, I am able to put myself in almost any novel situation and figure out what I need to do to be successful in it.
It doesn’t mean that I am always going to feel immediately comfortable whenever I’m faced with something that I’ve never done before, but it does mean that I now have the faith to know that if I stick with it and have confidence in my ability to figure it out in the long run, I will excel and it’ll become second nature in no time.
This is something that I could never say before giving up alcohol and something that I wouldn’t give up for any price in the world.