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  • For the Sober Curious : Redefining Life Through Sobriety and a Sober Lifestyle

    17 min read

    For the Sober Curious : Redefining Life Through Sobriety and a Sober Lifestyle

     

    The Non-Alcoholic Wine and Beer market is projected to reach US$ 8301.7 million in 2029, increasing from US$ 5818.3 million in 2022, with the CAGR of 5.1% during the period of 2023 to 2029*. Forbes agrees, "the ‘sober curious’ movement is not just a fleeting trend. It’s a shift in the way people and generations are interacting with and thinking about alcohol use."

     

    I've been sober for over 10 years now. Straight edge. It's not a projection, and I'm not preaching, but it felt like the right lifestyle change for me. As I go about my days, many people always ask me about it.. why I did it and how I do it, and still manage to participate in the world. This post is for the sober curious, as I dive into these answers and offer a few tips if you're looking to consider a more sober lifestyle. My podcast episode is available to listen to below, as is the full transcript if you'd prefer to read it...

     

     

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    On Sobriety

     

    Okay, this one's for the sober curious, and maybe people who are already sober and want to kind of just chat about that journey or give it some thought. Maybe for those who aren't sober curious, but you're just following along or checking out some of my content and maybe you're curious now because that's the topic we're going to dive into today. As all topics for me and in this stream of my channel here, things just come up day to day and that's why I really haven't wanted to put like a real frame on what the niche is and what the focus is, except for my presence really, so that I can participate in whatever presents itself for me and to me to open up and share my thoughts on and about.

     

    So today, a pattern that's been coming up a lot has been sobriety and I had a conversation earlier today. It was part of the conversation. I jumped on Instagram for a moment, a friend and a colleague had made a post about how far along in their sober journey they are.

     

    I saw another colleague who had been working on that and seemed to be kind of back on again with a drink in their hand and stuff. So for me in my journey, when things come up, they come up in patterns. And so I am, and I mean, look, it's not unlike you as well, I believe. If you just observe and pay attention to your surroundings, if you're aware, you'll probably see things in patterns. If I see something once, okay, I see it once. If I see it twice, okay, I see it twice.

     

    I see it's kind of got my attention that it's repeated, but if I see it three or more times, it's like, okay, there's something in this that I'm supposed to clock. I'm supposed to see, acknowledge, there's a reason it's repeating and I live my life that way and that's really my relationship with the universe, observing and receiving messages and patterns like this and, you know, feeling into them, thinking about them, looking for the hidden message in them, the silver lining and whatever's occurring, things like this. I can elaborate on all that more, but for now, the topic, sobriety.

     

    Because that's what's repeating, right? That's what's been repeating for me today. So I just jump on here and away we go, I'm out for a walk and it's the right time to share a bit more about this. So my journey in this realm of being sober started, give or take, over 10 years ago.

     

    And before that, like I first, I think I first had my first drink. I had my first drink when I was like 13, 14, something like this. And then it was pretty socially common in my youth, through high school, like lots of like weekend parties and all that kind of stuff, you know, you were a kid once too.

     

    I don't know if your journey was the same as mine, but that was kind of mine. It was pretty frequent and that wasn't like a thing, like in the family, that's like kids going out and  kind of being rebels and all that kind of shit. So, you know, that's where kind of it began and it carried on for me very regularly until I was about 30 or so, early 30s.

     

    And I mean, like socially regular, like every weekend, drinking for sure. I didn't really get into a bunch of all the other stuff, you know, some kind of experimentation and whatever along my way. You know, never got into coke like a lot of people have or many seem to have anyways. 

     

    I had no interest, like zero interest in that whatsoever. You know, I smoked cannabis, you know, marijuana, pick your words, over the years, for sure. Smoked enough of that to take down a small herd of elephant once upon a time.

     

    But as I was growing up, I phased out of these types of things and, you know, opened more into the world. And then finally, like with the alcohol, it just shifted for me to a point where I just wasn't really interested anymore. I felt tired.

     

    I felt like my hangovers were, you know, multi-day hangovers. You know, I wasn't thrilled with the expense. A whole bunch of stuff, you know, it wasn't good for my health, really. I wasn't feeling healthy. So for me, I just made that call. But I was starting to experience a lot of things that weren't enjoyable about it anymore for me.


     

    And so, you know, I made some of these changes and it wasn't easy, really, how I did it. And maybe, you know, you're thinking about it and like you're trying to shift or maybe, you know, you want to shift, you've given some thought to shifting away. Like, I don't judge anyone who's still out having a drink or wants to have a good time or whatever, you know.

     

    It's just the way I roll and it feels way better, I gotta say. You know, since that time, there's been quite like a sober movement that's been burgeoning. You know, there's a whole shelf, there's a whole aisle, really, when you go to the grocery store now that has sober alternative products for like every type of beverage almost.

     

    Like there's a real run of products happening now. When I started shifting, it was like there was 1.5 alcohol type available. And now I learned I can't even do wheat or gluten. So like, you know, even just a typical beer is not, you know, there's not an alignment with what I'm about. But it's not even just about that as a preference. It's like it actually hurts my body.

     

    My stomach is like in pain when I have wheat. So, you know, there's that. But the point being, there's just tons of products available and lots of opportunity to shift and do different things than drinking.

     

    And obviously, it's super social. It's something people are attached to socially. It's also deeply embedded socially in kind of our fabric, you know.

     

    When we go to sporting events and stuff, it's, you know, alcoholic beverage sponsors, you go to festivals, like that sort of thing, concerts, all kinds of stuff, right? It's like, you know, beer gardens and different events, all this kind of stuff. So it's up to you, right? But the thing is, it's like, how do you feel? That's the question. When you're doing whatever it is you're doing and you're thinking about whatever it is you're thinking about with respect to your relationship with that, how do you feel? And, you know, I enjoyed myself.

     

    I mean, it was pretty good. There were times it was good. But then when it started to not feel good, it really didn't.  And it was up to me to draw awareness to the fact that that relationship was changing. It was changing with age. It was changing with my body.

     

    But I trust and have increasingly trust in my journey, listening to how my body feels with respect to whatever I'm doing to guide me and say, okay, well, maybe your time has passed with this, right? So to do it, it was kind of tricky because I was pretty deeply embedded in like a, you know, kind of a social community that, and circles that had a lot of that in it. And, you know, I was arguably like leading the parade when it came to that. I say, you know, like, I was definitely like, let's go out.

     

    And I was definitely like, got no to go out and be social because I enjoy doing that stuff. But then we'd keep going, right? And it's like Tuesday night. And then, you know, it's like three or four in the morning and you're still going.

     

    And so your Wednesdays are right off. And, you know, depending how much tequila say I got into late and my possible Thursday would be a little bit softer as well. But I'd have, you know, nights, maybe not every night like that, right? But at least a couple like that a week and, you know, probably like four good nights a week going for it.

     

    So it impacted me in a whole bunch of different ways. But I listened to how I was feeling about this and made the changes. So some of the things I did to make the changes, which might be helpful to anyone kind of thinking about it.

     

    I mean, one, you got to change something. Something's got to change. The first thing that has to change is that you need to stop picking up the drink. People say it's tough. It is tough. It took me a bunch of different tries to actually build it up to be able to just change my patterns. But that's obvious to say. But it's important to say you have to stop reaching for that. Or you have to stop ordering that. You have to stop like just going, oh, OK, I'll just do this today. If you don't want to, then don't do it. Right? If you do want to, then have whatever feels right for you.

     

    But if the next day, for instance, you just feel like a bag of shit and  you don't feel very good about yourself and you're down andin a depressed state and things like that. And that's not how you want to live. No one can do that work for you.

     

    You have to do that work for yourself. So you have to stop the action for sure. And if that requires you taking a break from some of those social events and activities for a little while, then, you know, so be it. At least to build up the strength to be able to say, no, this is my space. This is where I'm at. And I'm not doing it. I don't want to do it. So you can replace things initially. But like long term, you don't really have to once your personal kind of boundary is set, you know, by you for you.

     

    Right? So, you know, exercise is obviously a great way to change it up. If you spend too much time in the bar, you should probably spend more time, you know, moving your body and your body exercising in a balanced way anyways. But if, you know, you're trying to change this pattern up in a bigger way, then definitely suggest, you know, getting into the classes, just getting some moving in, starting a, you know, a training regime of some type, and making that the thing you do instead of going to the bar. That's a big one, right?

     

    You can travel. Traveling, you know, is a good thing. I did it. I traveled solo. And so I could create a different space, different environment, than just that different patterns while I was traveling. But still, you know, they say wherever you go, there you are. Right? So like, I found a lucky penny. I'm going to keep that. I'm a superstitious guy, originally.

     

    So look, wherever you go, there you are. Right? And just leaving and going to a different place doesn't mean your patterns aren't going to follow you there. So like, you can go travel to Central America. But they have restaurants. They have bars. They have people who like to drink. So how's your behavior going to differ when you get there? Do you know what I mean? However, you might not feel the pull or the pressure of, like, friends or colleagues while you're, you're on path exploring like that, who are going to say, oh, you should go even if you don't want to or feel like. So it gives you an opportunity to kind of reset your, your kind of social environment. But it's still susceptible to the same opportunities.

     

    So again, it's like kind of discipline, commitment, you know. Personal strength, you know, the mental kind of fortitude to, to not bite. Other things to do that'll help. I mean, other activities, social activities that are not related to that. Many are, right. But hanging out with people who aren't drinking.

     

    I've never done anything like sober clubs and stuff. But of course there's, there's groups like AA as an option, that may serve you in ways that you find a support community of people who are just also not interested in doing the thing.

     

    Even Burning Man, they have like a sober camp. Burning Man's, you know, loosely known to be rather indulgent, but it's not required. I went to Burning Man, I was totally sober and it was phenomenal.

     

    But there's even like a sober camp. So you can hang out with other Burners that are sober, as an example. If you don't know Burning Man, I mean, it's like the most incredible gathering of, you know, creative and inspiring and, and eclectic maybe is a good word.

     

    I have so many words to describe it. So in this place that is really out of this world, it's incredible. And they build a whole city for nothing in the middle of the desert in about a week. You play in it and all of these different camps that have been built with 80,000 people strong for, you know, eight days or so. And then you tear it all down until there's absolutely nothing left. And no trace of anyone ever having been there.

     

    It's like you watch it come up from nothing. It's incredible experience. And they're based on, you know, the principles of the Burn and, you know, the whole experience. And then it's gone after it's like, highly recommend. So, you know, that's what that is. And, and it's an example.

     

    So there's most places where you can go, you can find the people that are on the same path and then the same vibe, you know, as you in that respect. So that's another thing you can do. So let's kind of move past that of like isolating or changing or staying away from the things, right? You develop some strength.

     

    You know, you want to do, you don't want to do. You're strong in your convictions. You don't have anybody to please.

     

    You don't have anything to prove to anyone. You just know what you want for yourself, which is best for you. Which if you ever actually want those things in your life, you, I would suggest need to hold space for yourself in that and commit and stay true to that because no one else can do it for you.

     

    Of course, if you crack along the way in that or whatever, it's not about, you know, shaming yourself about it. We're all doing our best out there and out here in our lives. So, you know, you're trying to do your best.

     

    However, if you want the best for yourself and this is part of your path as you proceed to do that, then you're in a place where you're feeling stronger to be able to still participate in the world as it is, not solely extract yourself from it, which may be your first phase, but your second phase is re-entering it on your terms, right?

     

    So in re-entering it on your terms, you kind of know this is an option, is to go out and see everybody and be with everybody who does and feels like drinking or whatever and don't have one, right? There's so many different alternative beverages that I'm suggesting. Most restaurants and bars have a non-alcoholic menu. I think there's a lot of room for growth in those still and I think we'll see that, but lots of options and events.

     

    You can grab something that's social. I usually try and do like a sparkling water and lime, maybe with like a splash of cranberry juice or something for just a little sugar or something, just a little treat, I guess. Because a big part of it all, like when you're sitting around the table at the restaurant and you're just talking to people, like no one's in a hurry, everyone's hanging out. And so it's kind of a thing to do is to have a drink, put something kind of wet to your lips and you're talking, keeping your mouth moist and stuff and that sort of thing. Stay hydrated. You know how you feel after you talk with people for like an hour or two hours? You're like parched.

     

    It's like, oh, I got to get some fluids in me, right? So it's a big part of that. It's a thing about that. And so when people are drinking, when they're in these environments, in my opinion, they're fulfilling that, but it's an illusion because at the time you're hydrated, but you're dehydrated later.

     

    So the difference is for you, if you're doing this, you're going to hydrate. Now we could argue whether sparkling water is hydrating or not, but even still water or whatever, alternative beverage, but generally you're going to hydrate better than someone who's drinking alcohol. And you can thank yourself for it in the morning when you wake up and you still feel like a million bucks, right? So you can hang out with these people.

     

    The thing that I always sort of do, I think for me is I don't want to tap out. And the part when I tap out, when I'm around others who are kind of drinking and partying is when they, um, when they start to tilt, you know, when they started to get the twinkle in the eye or they start to get pretty loose and like the whole room starts to feel different than like, you're like, Oh, I see where this vibe's going. Cause you also know where the vibe really goes.

     

    The vibe really goes when people are well past that phase into like almost third and onward phase of their evenings. It's like people start to train wreck and they get nauseous and they start to get sick and like, you know, some people get emotional, both from the sense of like anger or sadness or frustration or irritation, like all these different emotions come up. So let me just make sure I'm still, yeah, we're still flowing.

     

    So I pull the chute as I like to say, which means if you're like a skydiver, you know what I'm talking about? You pull the chute to release the parachute. Um, so I like to pull the chute, which is to like, eject you know, exit the experience about that time when people start to get wrecked, which you'll start to see depending who they are, the circumstances. I can still stay a little longer if I know them well and I'm also familiar with their behaviors, but if I'm not, then I see like people who might be a little more aggressive in a group or a little bit more erratic or whatever. They have reputations for doing that. And I'm out. Cause that's just all the problems here.

     

    You know, I just don't need the drama. I just don't need the headaches in my world. So, you know, that'd be another footnote of a way to make it work and to do it.

     

    And then really on the whole, like this, this journey, I feel into sobriety is fueled by a want to be better and do better for yourself in your life, be healthier, you know, be more productive, improve your relationships, um, you know, uh, uh, feel better. Did I say that? I don't think I said that yet. Maybe look better, have more energy, perform better in sports, a whole bunch of things like this.

     

    It's just general betterment is usually I feel the inspiration, right? So in the spirit, that's why we want to do this thing. That's where we start from in this thing. And it's available to you to do, very simply by just starting today and stopping doing the action. You have to stop doing the action to start. And it might take some time. And look, there's a bunch of different things that you could be referring to.

     

    I'm just using alcohol as the example here. And some of those may be harder to crack than others, but you need to take control of that. And, and we come from a place I feel when we're into these patterns a bit is there's a bit of self-destruction in there.

     

    There, there can be, you know, frustrations or fatigue. We kind of just like surrendering. You're just like, ah, just throwing it out the window. I got to fuck it. Some of that kind of energy that can deepen that well, that can come from like social stresses, frustrations, people when they're like, oh, you had a long day. It's like, ah, I'm going for a drink.

     

    Well, you know, also a walk would be really nice, or a swim might be nice. Maybe yoga would be also really good to help move some of that energy and just ground and relax a movie or for a massage. Like there's so many other things that could help reconcile that energy, but that's one where we go.

     

    But even still you want to go there and go, I'm going, I got to go sit down and talk to my friends at the bar or something. Well, that's fine, but just pick a different drink if you want, right? And see that it'll still have the same general effect without effects that tire you out or exacerbate problems or issues or things like that. So, this is a journey that I've been on for a long time.

     

    And I'm still on it. I'm straight edge. As I said, not just, not just alcohol, but all things over 10 years, give or take.

     

    And you see I've just made adjustments across my whole world and lifestyle, right? And I feel that that's, mentally, conceptually a big part of where that inspiration comes from is wanting to improve in multiple areas of our lives and not just this one. So it's available. It's available to you.

     

    Whenever you feel like you're ready or want to try it. It took me a long time and it took me a bunch of tries. So be kind to yourself on that journey as well.

     

    Like at first, at first I, you know, tried it for the weekend and then I tried it for the week and then I tried it for a month and, you know, then I tried it for three months and I tried it for six months and then finally kind of cracked it. And it was after trying that and then going back again and then trying it again and a little bit longer and going back again. It took a bunch of tries until finally when I go back, I'm like, ugh, I'm just not feeling it. It doesn't feel good at all. So that's where I got to. And then you're like, no, I'm good.

     

    And now I sit with people and they're, you know, going to town and they're having all the drinks they want or whatever. And I'm super cool. And I've done that equally with my nutrition and other aspects of my life.

     

    Socially, I continue to deepen and establish my pillars of the principles, values and things that I want for myself in my world. So, you know, it feels great. I'm doing well.

     

    Growing every day. Things are all on the right path as far as I'm concerned, knocking on wood. And, you know, it's from that place.

     

    I'm sharing these perspectives and insights with you so that if you're exploring this or feeling into this path, similarly, that, you know, it may provide some inspiration and support and encouragement in that direction, you know, for you as well. So let me know what you think of this and any other questions you have about it. You can ping me on any of my channels.

     

    You know, I'm happy to support those who are on a similar path and, you know, help hold some space for you for any questions you might have. And we'll see what the next topic looks like. But this one was an important one, I feel, to bring up today.

     

    So we've got this, you know, in the can and available for you and others if you seek that support and insight and support. I just said encouragement, you know, all that kind of stuff. And hopefully that seeds something in you, the courage to make those steps if you feel that's right for you.

     

    Because as I do stand here, it feels amazing. And I feel I'm a better person for it. And, you know, if that ever changes for me, my perspective and relationship with it, so be it. But for now, as far as I can see, it's terrific. So with the sirens coming behind me, I will get on with the day. The sirens putting a cap on our episode here.

     

    I'm going to carry on with my day. Carry on with yours. Have an amazing day.

     

    And, you know, please feel free to follow this. Check out all my channels, products and services designed to help you along your way if you feel so inclined. And I wish you the best until next time.

     

    Chat with you soon.



    Chad McMillan
    Chad McMillan

    Chad McMillan is an independent venture capitalist and creative artist focused on personal growth and exponential entrepreneurship. Connect with Chad at chad@chadmc.com.

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