The Experiment Continues

Dealing with coworkers alcohol free

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Have you ever been to an after-work function when you weren't able to drink? Talk about a doozy.

Last week, if you recall, I wrote about how I'd decided to take a break from drinking. I guess I should've taken a look at my calendar of upcoming events so I wouldn't have to experience FOMO as often as it looks I'll have to throughout what I'm calling my Sober October. Oh well.

The first challenge I experienced was on day five. I'd gotten comfortable with my routine of taking the trolley home right after work, avoiding the bar and completing a chore around the house before #Netflixandchill. On Thursday, however, we were having a mandatory meeting for my company's five year celebration ... at Suite. The last time I was there was for my company's Christmas party, I ended up walking out of the Epicentre from the third floor barefoot. #classy

My coworkers piled in line by the bar hoping to grab a drink before the presentation began and I made small talk with those that I don't see as often during the week. Everyone smiled weakly at me when they caught themselves getting ready to ask, "You're not getting anything to drink?" And honestly, after smelling a vodka soda in passing, I was thankful I wasn't drinking. The only problem? Now that I don't have alcohol as a distraction, I've become very catty when I'm hungry and there was no food — only an open bar. Sighs.

Thankfully, by the time the speech ended there was only 45 more minutes left to take advantage of the open bar. So, I decided to begin my trek home to homemade chili and an ice cold Pepsi. After appeasing my "hanger," I was surprised at how focused I'd been on eating instead of drinking. Great job, Aerin, great job.

The next day, I went to work and laughed with a coworker about how hungover everyone was. And while I envied my coworkers with drink in hand at the party, that all ended when I started seeing the glazed "deer-in-headlight looks" and mouthwatering nausea of some of the folks walking through the door the next day. "On to the next challenge," I thought to myself as I remembered I'd have to speed pack at home before heading to New River Campground & Canoe in Independence, Virginia for weekend camping.

Before you ask, yes black women camp, too. And believe it or not, I actually like it. The trouble is that camping with a bunch of young folk usually involves beer and drinking games.

How do you encourage everyone else that you're actually having an amazing time sitting around a bonfire eating s'mores when you're not drinking with them? At one point, I thought, "Maybe I can just have a sip of beer?" But just as quickly as the thought entered my mind I remembered how popping a can of PBR is my version of Pringles — "once you pop, you can't stop."

I stuck to my guns and didn't drink. You can only imagine how challenging that was if you're like me and don't enjoy/aren't talented enough to play beer pong, flip cup and the like. But somehow, I managed to hit a few cups and keep my energy high all day long. When it was over, and I returned back in Charlotte I was proud that I'd held my ground — without technology as a distraction I might add — and excited that I had a legitimate excuse as to why I hadn't showered in two days.

You'd think that was enough temptation for one weekend but it was noon on a Sunday. You know what that meant? Sunday funday and lots of football. Everyone in the Q.C. piles out of bed as if the work week isn't right around the corner on game day and this chick didn't have to work on Monday. I headed to my favorite watering hole, The Corner Pub, and prepared for the fight of my life. Surprisingly, the only time I had a desire to grab a cold brew was when I started getting a headache (withdrawal?).

After watching the Panthers pull out a W by the hair on their tails, I even upped the ante when my girls and I decided to brave the crowds at Slate/All American Pub/Oak Room/Hot Taco. Crazy, right?! It wasn't as packed as it usually was but I still felt the anxiety of being in a large crowd, aware of my own personal space and sober. But the most rewarding part of the night? I could engage in conversation, or not, and actually listen to what people were saying. And that's what the intimacy of nightlife is really all about. (And, not being concerned about getting pulled over for drinking and driving of course!)

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