Here's to alcohol: the cause of, and answer to, all of life's problems.

– Matt Groening

Let’s talk about going out and drinking. I’ll be first to admit that I use alcohol as a fast track to a good time. I’d drink (pretty heavily) to guarantee that fun was in my immediate future and that I’d get there fast. I even had a period of time where tequila on the rocks with two limes was my drink of choice. I thought I was cutting calories, but I was really just getting drunk faster and drinking more because I’d gulp down the tequila so fast.

In my mind, feeling too “sober” directly translated into awkward and uncomfortable. I had no idea if others could see or feel the stiff discomfort within me, but I had drink after drink to suppress it. I drank to loosen up, stop overthinking, prevent myself from overanalyzing my behaviors, keep my hands and mouth busy, stay hyped, and quell the paranoia that my eyes were lingering too long on anything. The pleasure of getting drunk felt like dancing underwater in slow motion. As the liquor kicked in, everything felt smoother, slower, sexier (reality check: it ain’t). Intoxication made me blissfully unaware of my self-conscious tendencies. I welcomed that pleasant, dreamy haze like an old friend, rushing to meet her faster and faster every time.

Even as an extrovert, the alcohol helped ease the scary parts of being vulnerable. Whether it was dancing my heart out or approaching a guy I was interested in, alcohol gave me the liquid courage and anxiety killer I needed when it felt like my sober insecurities were holding me back. Too bad I couldn’t remember huge chunks of most of those nights.

The energy in bars, clubs, and social situations is palpable—people mimic each others’ behavior in their pursuit of euphoric escapism.

“I’ll have one if you have one.”

“Oh you’re having another drink? Me too!”

It snowballs. Fast. And it made me wonder… How much of an impact do your friends’ drinking habits have on you? Alcohol is a wonderful social lubricant, an ever-reliable form of liquid courage. But to what extent do we depend on it?

Sebastian Baptiste, triple threat event producer, DJ, and co-creator of CURRENT LOCATION, says, “I think alcohol as a social lubricant is great, but like with most things that impair your judgment, you just shouldn’t abuse it.”

Baptiste forgoes alcohol for the first three months of every year—and he’s been doing it for five years now. He first made this decision leading up to a 3-month fitness competition at Gold’s Gym and has stuck to it ever since.

“I loved partying and it felt like one of the few things standing in the way of me feeling and looking as good as I could.”

– Baptiste

Ericke Tan of ERICKE ONLINE stopped drinking for health reasons after she noticed how her body reacted her alcohol. Worsened rosacea and rough hangover recoveries were to be expected after drunken nights out.

“Since alcohol is marketed at every angle, we are hardwired to accept it as a tool for us to avoid confronting those anxieties head-on, which could potentially block us from being confident with our decisions, knowing our boundaries, or getting to know ourselves fully when it comes to relating with other people and navigating social situations.” – Tan

I have to admit that during past nights out, I would personally feel disheartened if a friend passed up on another drink. My internal knee-jerk reaction told me the peak of the night was over and we just weren’t going to have as much fun from that point on. I’d also allow their decisions to affect whether or not I was going to have another drink. I am zero percent proud of this. If someone is offended by your decision or pushing you to drink, it says much more about their character than it does about yours. Trust.

“I think most, if not all of us, are dependent on something to help us get through our personal anxieties which makes it easier for us to cope with those issues in public spaces.”

– Tan

Alcohol is a common thread that weaves itself through our social gatherings, celebrations, and dates. A vice, a coping mechanism, a relaxing method—each person’s relationship with alcohol is unique and complicated.

Liquor and booze charmingly soften the edges of first dates, dancing in bars, conversations, and sometimes life in general. It’s a fast pass to a relaxed state. But when does it cross the line? When does alcohol become a synonym for fun, rather than a handy helper?

“There are some people who are so in their own heads when they’re sober that drinking is the only way to loosen them up. But it’s bad when your personality gets split into two and drunk you is the more fun you.” – Baptiste

Drinking can bring a certain amount of pleasure to our lives. Alcohol isn’t the bad guy and it doesn’t make your life impure if you indulge in it. In our modern age, we can all recognize that nothing is black or white—and neither is this.

No matter what your motivations are for re-assessing your relationship with alcohol, the importance lies within our abilities to pause, reflect, and re-evaluate rather than mindlessly falling into line with how and why the people around you are consuming alcohol.

Since my newfound epiphany, I’ve reeled it in and asked myself *WHY* I want a drink before reaching for the next. And I’ve found that going out without drinking is still fun when I genuinely enjoy the people I’m with, and most of all, when I honestly like who I am at the core sans booze. I’ve eschewed the slow motion, numbed underwater effect for my true awkward, slightly weird, always chipper self.

“I still have as much fun as I did when I drank alcohol—minus a couple of really embarrassing stories. I also remember conversations better and feel like I really get to build more authentic relationships.” – Tan

I used to use alcohol as a gateway to a good time, but also as a suppressant to my insecurities. Once I got to a place where I was noticeably happier and more secure with myself, I found that alcohol played less of an essential role in ensuring I would have fun—I’m already having the time of my life.

This isn’t an advice article. In no way am I telling you to go change how you drink. I simply paused and got introspective with my own relationship with alcohol. I’m proposing that you reflect on alcohol’s impact on you too.

Words & art direction by Jessica Wu

Photography by Andy Baptiste

Hands by Nicole Mendoza, Melissa Ver & Jessica Wu

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