My Experience Being Sober and Social

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By, Jacqueline Lee

In March of 2020, I sat with my laptop and Googled every term I could think of to find a sober, social group in Raleigh. I desperately wanted to find people my age doing fun things without drinking. I was 25 at the time.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything. I saw many resources for recovering from alcohol addiction such as rehabs, 12 step meetings, and more. We're lucky in Raleigh to have an incredible recovery community and lots of resources, but in addition to that I wanted an alcohol-free group purely for social purposes.

I’ve always loved parties, meeting new people, and hosting events. However, I was so used to all of these events revolving around drinking. I knew so few people who didn’t drink and I felt like everyone my age was drinking and partying all the time. 

March 4th of 2020 was my first day of going totally alcohol-free. As I write this, I can’t believe it’s been more than two years that I haven’t had a single drink. 

During those two years and starting Zero Proof, I’ve gone from knowing hardly anyone who doesn’t drink to knowing hundreds of people who don’t. 

And that’s just on a personal level! I follow countless social media pages of others across the country of all ages. Also, Hollywood is filled with famous people who don’t drink. Check out the Instagram account @sober_celebrities to see that I mean. 

I never thought I’d enjoy social events without drinking, which now sounds crazy to me. It’s a mind-blowing experience to go from not being able to fathom getting through a social event without drinking to quite the opposite. Now, I absolutely don’t want to drink alcohol at events or any kind of gathering with friends. 

My perspective completely shifted. I now relish the thought of being 100% present for every second of an event. It’s thrilling to me to have experiences sober. I get to experience the world in full force, no blurry lens over it. 

When I was drinking, it was as if I was trying to be someone who I’m not. It also made me inclined to act in a way I was often not proud of. All together, drinking didn’t allow me to be my authentic self.

Drinking was the crutch I relied on for everything in social situations. If I was nervous around new people, I’d grab a drink. If I was nervous for a date, I’d have a drink or two beforehand. If I was anxious or overthinking at an event, I’d pour some more red wine. 

And where did that get me? With purple teeth (not a good look), regrets, and an awful feeling the next day. 

Now imagine this. Imagine if you’re not drinking, you push through the anxiety all on your own. You find the strength from within to put yourself out there and meet new people. You brush off overthinking and self-sabotaging because you know yourself and are confident with who you are.

THAT is the power of being comfortable in sobriety. I look back on each time when I’ve fought through uncomfortable feelings as a time I persevered, got stronger, and learned something new about myself. 

Also if someone doesn't like my true, authentic, weird self, then I really don't give a flying f*ck 😎

Take that alcohol! 👊🏻

Along the way of my sobriety journey, I have learned a few tips I’d like to share about not drinking and going to social events. Here’s a few: 

  1. As long as I have any kind of NA (non-alcoholic) drink in hand, I feel more comfortable. Half the time I just need something to do with my hands! Also, there are some amazing alternatives to alcoholic drinks. I’m most comfortable with flavored seltzers, or just plain club soda with a lime. However, I do enjoy one best in a fun glass. Just because we’re not drinking alcohol, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a fun glass! 
  2. I bring my own NA drinks to the party just in case they don’t have any. I hate to show up and there’s no options! I feel like this is payback for years of parties I threw where I’d spend all the money on booze to provide, but skip on the mixers. I guess karma has come back to bite me 🙃 You better believe that NOW when I throw parties, I have the best mocktails and all the NA options imaginable. 
  3. Sometimes I unexpectedly get overwhelmed at an event. In this situation, I pause and take a break to myself and evaluate if I want to stay. Sometimes I’m fine after catching a breather and sometimes I just need to drive home. Worried about being rude? I’ve found that my closest friends who have my best interest at heart understand if I need to leave. If someone has a problem that I left an event for feeling uncomfortable or feeling tempted to drink, then get outta my circle ❌
  4. If I ever get feelings of “missing out” when it comes to drinking, I play the tape forward and think about what happened all the times I overdid it. I know for a FACT that if I have one drink, I just want more. And from there, things are unpredictable. Taking a minute to pause and reflect instead of impulsively acting on a thought of drinking is so helpful. It’s even more helpful when this happens to call up a sober friend and discuss how I’m feeling. It makes a WORLD of difference to talk with someone who just gets it
  5. I think about whether I truly want to attend something before I commit. There were many times when I was drinking where I tried to “drink the fun” into an event. It could happen with an outing with friends, a date, or a work party. If you have to “drink the fun” into something, it’s not something worth attending. There have also been times I’ve been to something and I wasn’t even tempted to join in drinking, but I just wasn’t comfortable and didn’t have a great time. Why put myself in those situations? That’s why before I commit, I try to be honest with myself about if I want to go and what my motives are behind being somewhere.

I wanted to take the time to talk about how my mindset has changed so drastically and share some tips for anyone who’s currently where I was in the beginning. If you just quit drinking or you’re debating it, I promise it’s worth pushing through all the tough feelings. 

There’s a quote from Laura McKowen, author of We Are the Luckiest, that I really think sums it up best: 

“If you could see even a fraction of what's possible for you, you would fall to your knees and cry.” 

Thank you for reading our first blog post! Please email if you have any comments about the post or would like to connect personally: Also, send an email if you'd like to write a blog post for our site.

Jacqueline 💙

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