It sounds like more than it is. I didn’t drink beer for 30 days. But I did drink other types of alcohol. Sometimes I drank more; sometimes I drank less. I learned some stuff about myself. And I did confirm a lot of suspicions I had about myself. For instance:
I am not an alcoholic…
But I was using beer as a crutch. Not so much as a way to “get through” life, but really just to ignore the nagging voice in my head that was always thinking “you could do more, man.” Whether it was checking r/beer all the time, opening up Untappd to see what my friends were enjoying (even at 11 am PST…what up, east coast?) or just searching for the latest beer reviews on YouTube to satiate my need to see more, I was always seeking beer.
Here’s the thing: this is a perfectly reasonable hobby when you consider the amount of beer I actually consumed vs. how much I read and watched. I have no chemical dependency on alcohol. I genuinely was (and still am) interested in the latest brewery news or the latest releases, big or small. I am fascinated by the constant change in tastes of people and how breweries react so quickly. Good god, grapefruit in beer happened so fast that it was jumping the shark as it became popular.
But all of this was an easy distraction to slip into rather than facing work as it piled up or trying my hand at something new to expand my horizons a bit, no matter how small. And, it was a great excuse to get good and drunk once in a while. Which, as I get into my later 20s, I realize it’s still fun as hell, but not conducive to becoming a better person in my own mind. Cutting myself off made me realize that I had a lot of time on my hands that could go elsewhere.
I spent a lot of money on beer
Yeah, this seems obvious, but it’s tough to recognize when you consider that I’d come home with 3-4 different beers on the weekend. $20-30 (nearly) every weekend adds up pretty quickly. Especially when you consider I could purchase a quality bottle of bourbon for the same price and that lasts me easily 3-4 weeks.
Removing beer made me think a lot more
Alcohol is great at helping you not think about stuff. It’s crazy, I know. But, when you’re sitting sober on a weekend evening, your brain is suddenly a lot louder. It was incredibly overwhelming at first. I still kind of fear trying to manage thoughts and stresses into action. But, not having a crutch has forced me to suck it up and take this action. As a result, I’m finding myself generally more organized and on top of things. I’m still working on it (people of the Type A persuasion would laugh at what I deem as “organized”), but it’s progress. And it has allowed me to start asking “what else can be done to make this better?” when doing something rather than “oh shit, what did I forget? doesn’t matter, just get it done before you get in trouble.”
I really do genuinely just like beer
For a while, I worried that my beer habit was more of an “alcohol” habit and that my alcohol “habit” was more of a “dependency”…if you will. But, I ended up cutting back on drinking quite a bit when I removed beer. Which made me happy and also sad. Happy because I realized that I really was drinking because I was interested. Sad because it means that I can’t keep doing that. But, that’s why I’m excited about all the potential for other things in my life. The funny thing is, these other things aren’t anything big. I’m talking about just being more focused on cooking. Or trying to take my work one step further. Or even just saving money to spend on something else like traveling.
As I reflect on the past 30 days of one small change, I can say that it’s had a big impact. I can also say that I’m not going to stop drinking beer. It’s delicious. But, I’m no longer going to chase down the next “have to try” beer every weekend. And, I am going to keep focusing on expanding my horizons a bit more.