I did dry January
I enjoy drinking. I like the taste of alcohol, I like bars, I like social drinking, I like how drinking makes me feel. Drinking is fun. There are only two major problems I have with drinking. The first is being hungover. Haruki Murakami's story "All God's Children Can Dance" begins with a description of a hangover as being the worst possible thing that a human being can experience:
His head felt as if it had been stuffed with decaying teeth during the night. A foul sludge was oozing from his rotting gums and eating away at his brain from the inside. If he ignored it, he wouldn't have a brain left. Which would be all right.
I say with only some exaggeration that this is basically how I feel when I am hungover. This is why I have for many years followed what I call the "3(+1) drink limit." I generally follow, more or less, this rule: stick to, at a maximum, 3 drinks, maybe 1 more if I'm drinking over a very long period of time. This moderation is not a restriction to me; I've learned from experience that this is the approximate point at which drinking no longer becomes fun: not just the next day, but the night of — it is too far past this limit that I start feeling rash, reckless, stupid and annoying. And for me, drinking is about fun.
The second problem with drinking is that it is probably not good for me. I have read various things that say moderate drinking — defined, apparently, as less than 14 drinks a week for men, which I almost always have stuck to for the last five years — is somewhere between "not bad at all for you," "kinda bad for you" or "really bad for you." Like most important health things, I don't really trust my ability to determine, through independent research, which one of these is the case. Instead, I follow some combination of public health recommendations, articles I read, things I hear from people, and "vibes," and waver between whether I worry about whether I drink too much or not. There have been times in my life when I drink much more heavily than I do now -- mostly, in college, and to some degree in my early 20s. I started practicing the 3(+1) drink limit in my mid-20s and I've basically kept it as a guideline ever since.
It's not really clear why I did dry January. I think I just said I was going to do it and thought, well, if I said I was going to do this, I guess I have to follow through. I think I tend to make decisions intuitively, without really understanding my own reasoning. I mostly found doing dry January boring and annoying, but I didn't find it particularly challenging. I slept maybe slightly better. I was less social, and spent more time on writing, reading, and other projects. I often practiced yoga and meditation in the evening. I learned to handle social anxiety without alcohol a little better. But mostly, I just used it as an excuse to be introverted, stay in and read or work on various projects, which is something I think I do far too much of anyway. However, I did start writing more, which I think has been the most important change. I will probably return to drinking a little bit less, simply out of habit. At the end of day, I am glad that I did it.