Brahmacharya

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In 2012, a few months before I went into my first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, I made a radical decision. I decided that for a year, I would observe Brahmacharya. Named for the state of searching for the ‘Great One, Supreme Reality, or Self,’ Brahmacharya is one of the five Yamas according to Yogic texts. In Vedic traditions in refers to the state of celibacy one chooses during the life stage of being an unmarried student and fidelity when married. In modern times, it is better known as a state of being sexually responsible. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Monks practice Brahmacharya their whole lives as it is considered necessary for their spiritual practice.

It wasn’t a decision that required a lot of consideration on my end. I loved the sound of the word, ‘Bharmacharya,’ and something about doing it felt completely right. I chose the more strict sense of the word, not only refraining from the sexual act, but also anything that could lead to it including kissing, extreme alcohol consumption and situations where I am alone with a man I am attracted to in a private setting.

As soon as I had decided on it, it was like I had donned a veil that made me sexually invisible. There was a sense of liberation in being able to let it go and practice my Yoga, learn my texts and most of all, learn more about myself. Once I had taken the whole dynamic out of the picture, I found a lot of freedom. I learned to walk in my own skin without trying to gather the attention or to please a dominant male figure.

A lot came up in that time but once the year was up, and as I was ready to lift the veil, my beloved father passed away. Now that opened up a whole other can of worms and Brahmacharya was extended. The relationship between a daughter and a father is always something pretty amazing. My father, no matter what he did was my hero. Whenever he was in a room, his was the only presence that mattered to me. We had our ups and downs of course. When we disagreed there were so many strong emotions running around that the charge was palpable. It was the love that was also the double-edged sword. When he hurt me, I would lash out as strongly but the love was so deep that when I hurt him, it was akin to taking a knife to my own heart.

My father was a bit of a narcissist in that he never saw how his actions hurt the people who loved him. Growing up I was used to him getting distracted either with a new relationship, a new love interest or a new work venture and he would disappear during those times. Those were the days when he didn’t return my calls, or was simply not available. Then when the thing that had his interest for the moment went to shits or he got bored of it, he would be back and I would welcome him. It hurt like hell but I was young not to see the cruelty and selfishness in it so it became the norm.

When he passed, the patterns that I had carried on from my relationship with him to my relationship with other men came to light. Of course, I never loved anyone quite as strongly. How could you love an employer, friend or lover as much as you love your own father? Not even close. But I did notice that in my relationships with men, I had been willing to accept a degree of cruelty. I’m not saying that the men in my life have been cruel, not all of them anyway, but there have been acts of cruelty that I had previously quickly forgiven and even sometimes apologised for.  In doing so, I had been cruel to myself and reaffirming the belief that I was not worthy and therefore it was my responsibility to hold things together.  That was a pretty big one to see and a bigger one to disprove.  Thanks goodness for the friends who see your light even when you can’t.

There is something to be said for not being in a romantic relationship and seeing these patterns. I haven’t been a monk where emotions are concerned. Of course, I’ve had crushes and emotional interests but the commitment to my practice has held me from getting into going forward with a relationship. I had nothing to lose. I’d spent my entire twenties almost continuously in long-term relationships. The thing is, when you are in one, you’re so caught up in the highs and lows of it that you can’t step back and say, ‘wait a minute, here’s that behaviour that I am repeating.’ I’m not saying the change is immediate but like with everything else, you have to notice the pattern to change how you act to it. That has been my greatest lesson.

I have many lessons to learn, I’m sure, but it has been three years and eight months since I committed to a state of learning these lessons on my own. This has in a way become a crutch to save myself from complications and the possibility of pain, but what is life without some complication. It might be time to opening myself to lessons that involve another dynamic now.

In about two weeks, I enter into my second 200 Yoga Teacher Training. The main teacher, the amazing Shiva Rea is a true Tantrist. This time instead of slow assimilation to practice, it will be a month away in an insulated situation, but once the month is done, I think it is time I consciously lift the veil of Brahmacharya that I’ve been wearing all this time.

To victory in facing fears, taking risks and standing in the discomfort of the fire until change is ready to happen. Jai!

Dating? Yeah… No

My best friend from high school just got engaged.

 

It is an amazing thing as they’ve been together for about 15 years now. Suddenly, I am one of the last ones in our group of friends who is single. I suppose, since I am making no active effort to change that situation, I can’t say that I am unhappy. It’s not that I can’t ‘do’ relationships. Like everyone else, I have things that I am particular about and some things that I am really relaxed about, and relationships after all, are learning to adjust with things like that.

 

The thing I can’t ‘do’ is dating.

 

It is a treacherous and ridiculous thing. My environment is made out of 80% females. Cut out the gay males and you’ll have about 5% – 7% straight males. Discount the ones who are either taken or in this job for the girls, and you’re left with about 1.7% of the population. Add to that the fact that I’m at work most of the time, I’m not your stereotypical yoga girl and that dating students is a self-imposed no-no (there’s this thing called ethics and I’d rather avoid going down the messy road of studating), it leaves me about a one in a million chance when hell freezes over.

 

Going out of the circle is even more insane.

 

The dating world in Sydney, like the corporate world and the rental market is in a word – fucked.

 

You are either there to fuck or you’re fucked over.

 

The corporate world ripped me to shreds and the dating world is just as treacherous. There is a certain aggression to things, a certain rush, wanting to ‘seal the deal’ and yet even on the first date, most people already have one foot out the door in case something better comes along. It is bright lights and lots of promise but strip it bare and there is nothing.

According to the newspapers, rent in Sydney is really high because there are more renters than there is good property. The newspapers also say that it is the same about men. There are a limited number of men and a lot of women. Again, exclude gay men, the unemployed men and the men who are under 35, and what’s left?  Online you say?  I think I’ve addressed that one here: https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/online-dating-just-not-my-thing/

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It could just be my thing. A lot of people like dating but even when I was younger, I never enjoyed it. And I’ve never once in my life been capable of having a few men on the go at the same time until I could decide on the ‘best’ one.

 

I quite like leading a drama free life. It gives me space to be available for everyone else when they have dramas.

 

As a teenager, what I really wanted was to fall in love once in my life. It would be someone I knew as a friend and he would know me as a friend, innocently and like the quote by Ann Landers, my love would be friendship caught fire. Oh young innocence.

 

There were some wee issues here. First, I am straight girl who went to a Catholic all girls’ school and secondly, my best friend was a female. Now she’s engaged so that’s definitely not happening.

 

So I’ve often ended up dating men I am stupidly attracted to. My nature is that I never get into anything unless I’m going to give it my best shot, so once I’m in, I’m in… When I say stupid, I mean totally brainless. I am often on cloud 9 until three years later when I crash. Often times I don’t even realise that I’m the only one holding the relationship up until I’m exhausted.  It’s like a long jump out of a plane, without a parachute into a forest fire.

 

The problem with going out with someone you’re electrically attracted to is that you are trying to impress, and when you get into a relationship, the initial veneer kind of chips off.  On my end, men are often attracted to me because I seem easy going and carefree. Underneath it all, I am a control freak and I quite like quiet nights. They expect me to be this ‘entertaining’ and ‘happy’ little minx all the time and when I’m not, they are highly disappointed. I on the other hand, am attracted to big buff footie player types and end up disillusioned because he’d rather smoke pot and drink than go for a walk.

 

Things get hard, and with both my long-term relationships, I found that we didn’t have the underlying friendship to help us through when they did. Now I look back and realise that had I not dated them, we would not have even really been friends.

 

Oh who knows with this stuff really. And who knows what might come. Anything is possible in this world. Maybe by some miracle, without actually having to brave the murky torrents of any dating scene, it’ll just ‘happen’. I don’t know how. Somehow. You’ll just have to believe that magic is possible sometimes.  Or perhaps my life will take on a different path. Perhaps I’ll adopt a child or have one on my own.

 

All I know is that if I don’t want to date, the world won’t end.

 

There’s a whole full life ahead.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

This City

Almost 8 years ago I did something crazy.

 

I quit my job, broke up my engagement and moved to Sydney, Australia. To this day, I maintain that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. You see the first time I came over was in 2000. I absolutely did not like most of the people I had come with. But there were days and moments when I was either wandering alone or could pretend they didn’t exist that something about this place took root. It was the city, it was the beach, it was being surrounded by water.

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It could have been anything.

 

It was falling in love and not being able to pinpoint exactly what made it happen.

 

I would have stayed but I had a story to go through in Malaysia. There was University, which I was half way through, and I the conversations that had started with my ex fiancé still had to be completed. So I saw that through.

 

Three months after my engagement ended, heart in shreds I left.

 

Moving to a new city is never easy but people do it all the time. Some people do it with family, some with friends and others following their partners. I could have gone to the UK or where I have family or went to Melbourne or Perth, where there is a larger community of Malaysians, but for some reason, none of those options occurred to me at the time.

 

It made it tougher, but it was the right choice.

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Being on your own after always having family and being surrounded by friends who had known you for years is never easy. It is a whole new way of being, a whole new way of living and a way of learning who you are independent of all these things. My father was one of those people who didn’t really exist without an audience. He always needed someone to be on show for and I was cautious of becoming that so of course, I did this. Don’t even get me started on how the actions of one’s parents can affect the course of one’s life. It’s great as long as you can stop and take note of it.

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2006 through to 2008 were fully experimental. At a young age, I was in a committed relationship so most of my partying was done within the context of that. We didn’t drink much due to my health issues but there was the pot (which my ex loved) and the E (which was more my thing). Can’t drink but drugs are ok?  Only in your early twenties can you operate with such logic.  Side note, this is all in the past. I teach yoga and do not condone the use of drugs.

 

As a Masters’ student, you only have classes three days a week, spend some time in the library, write a lot and socialise even more. I was so lucky in my group of friends. I think I always have been. They were truly good people. Together we learned this city, not just the touristy bits, although we did wear out the floors at Bungalow 8, Cargo and the Argyle quite a bit. We also learned the little nooks, the quiet corners and the beautiful graffiti on the backstreets.

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Then we finished school, my friends left, I got a job and relearned this city again.

 

My friends in University were made up of people who could afford to study here and pay rent. The people I met at work mostly came as backpackers. With them another part of the city opened up to me, the part of people who came without attachment and were ready to fully embrace the decadent and crazy. Somewhere in that craziness I fell in love for the second time in my life and he showed me the city through his eyes. It was the places where he had gone since he was young, the family and the new and foreign culture. For three years I was totally involved.

 

Then that ended. Funnily enough, in a way, that relationship closed a circle of rebounds that started after I ended my engagement. It was awful and it was amazing and then I had to relearn life again.

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So most of my friends had left and then I got so absorbed into his family and friends, and once it ended, it was like I had started life here all over again. It was the only time I thought I might leave for good. My visa at the time was in the air. In my stubbornness, I didn’t even consider being sponsored by an employer as I’d never met one I wanted to stay with that long and I didn’t want a partner visa. At that point, I had to know that if I was staying it was because I was meant to be here. If I was the job would come and if I was meant to fall in love, it too would happen after that.

 

Turns out I was meant to stay. After seven years, my residency was granted.

 

This place in a strange way has my heart. I love the different pockets of society and how people are so different from one place to another. Good coffee is so easy to find and even in the rush, there is always someone taking it slow at a coffee shop, watching the world go by. There are parts that are dark and angry, and then you take the train across the bridge and the sight of it takes your breath away. You look out from Waverley Cemetery and see this beautiful vast ocean.

 

Two nights ago, I walked through the city from Circular Quey to Darling Harbour. It’s crazy how you can be completely invisible and yet still feel like you are a part of something. Occasionally someone will walk with you for a bit and strike up a conversation, but mostly it is solitary. I love it. Sometimes I stop and just look, how the Opera House is really not pretty from close up but if you go across to The Rocks it is amazing, how the old buildings and the new ones somehow just cohabitate next to each other, and how different people just move around in the crowds. There is a breathing energy to this place.

 

This walk is one of my ‘things’, something I’ve never really done with anyone else, but maybe someday I will with a friend, or a lover if I can ever bring myself to brave Sydney’s treacherous dating scene (that’s a whole story on it’s own).

 

Sydney is a play of shadow and light. Occasionally they merge in a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours. It is mine but not really mine. In both the night and day, there is something beautiful about it.

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A Lesson from Your Tears

Last Friday was one of those days that hit me unexpectedly, and again, had me crying in public.  I don’t really know when this public display of emotion started.  A friend who has known me since I was 19 once said to me that in all the years we spent together (from university through to our mid-twenties) she had never seen me shed a tear, even during the most difficult of times.

You see, I was brought up in an environment where crying was seen as a very negative display of emotions.  As a child, if I cried for no (obvious) reason, I was given a reason to cry.  As a teenager, my being upset would prompt my mother to tell me how upset it made her, and of course, I didn’t want to upset her, so I learned to keep it all in.  In my previous relationships, I dealt with various degrees of reactions to my tears from emotional bullying (kick her while she’s down), to flippant, to having the men emotionally retreat.  One even started cheating on me when I was going through a tough time.  Then there is that ‘crazy’ label used for things they don’t understand.  Asking for a shoulder to cry on, in my experience only led me to feel worse.  When a friend of mine said that her partner could just be there and hand her chocolate as she completely broke down, I was totally amazed at his maturity.  It never crossed my mind that anyone could just do that.

The thing is tears can be prompted by a whole range of emotions including those that are yet unnamed and just need an outlet.  I had become used to crying alone, and so, I had built this shell around me.  I would wait until I was completely on my own to break down.  When my engagement ended, I waited to move to another country to do the bulk of my grieving, filling the time between that end and my move with a fling that left me feeling worse. When my grandmother passed on a couple of years ago, I was in a relationship and yet, I dealt with it by crying into my yoga mat and just texting my then partner.  I didn’t expect him to be there for me, and he didn’t call. Somehow I felt that emotionally, he was ill-equipped to deal with my grieving.

I very rarely shared my tears with females, and even more rarely would do it with the men in my life be they relatives, friends and especially partners.

And then I took that crazy vow of celibacy: https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/act-of-celibacy/.  It was an interesting and amazing journey.  However, just as I was about to step out of it, my father passed away and I retreated again into myself.  I am so grateful for the friends who were there for me during this time.  Although I tried to shut the door, they waited right outside, ready for when I could allow myself to need them.  It was a lesson on how there were people out there who are at the same time both gentle and strong enough to support you through your grief.

That is the thing about grief and tears. Most of the time, you don’t want someone to make it better and you definitely don’t want someone to make it about them.  Sometimes, all you want is for someone to hold you and to let you cry, or to hand you a baby to hold for a little while.

When my father passed away I was sad, and I was angry – angry at him for being the kind of father he was and angry at him for not telling me how ill he really was. Most of all I was angry at him for not being around during my moments of vulnerability, these moments of vulnerability when he, as a father, should have been there.  The last thing I wanted was to let another man in or even have one near me.  I felt that people in general couldn’t be relied on in times of grief, and more so if they were men.

I was wrong.

As my yoga practice has grown and my mask has dropped, I’ve learned that people can be there for you if you let them.  They might not be in a position to do something about it, but a hug is free and tissues don’t cost that much.  There are friends who will not brush it off if you cry for your grandmother who passed away 15 years ago.  There are friends who will bring you gelato and let you hold their baby for the warmth and comfort.  There are friends who will sit with you, waiting patiently for the sobs to subside and for you to catch your breath so you can tell them why you are upset.  And there are men.  These men who are just there with their gentle strength, neither running nor reacting to your tears, offering their warm arms so you can melt, even if just for a moment.  These men just listen while you open up with your emotions and although they might have that manly desire to fix everything, they don’t try to.  They are just present.

Unspoken Words

There are people who understand that sometimes emotions flow out in bursts before laying dormant for a while.  Then something triggers them, and there they flow again, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And there are times you learn that strong emotions can awaken different parts of yourself that might have been asleep.

For the first time in a long time, last week I wished that I wasn’t spending the evening alone.  I wanted to curl up on someone’s lap and let him hold me.  When I awoke in the middle of the night, I wanted to hear another person breathing beside me, to feel his warmth and know that comfort.

Tears are amazing.  They remind you that you are alive.  They are the physical manifestation of your feelings, showing you that your body and your emotions are connected.  They are the gateway, allowing things that might remain stuck inside to flow.  And sometimes they come only to tell you that it is time to let your guard down and write the next chapter of the story.

Online Dating – Just Not My Thing

I am a single woman in my 30s.  Having ended a relationship over a year ago, I had decided to embark on a journey on my own for a year.  Well, that year ended, and I found it was time to get back on the horse, so to speak.  Although I have a somewhat active social life, it is now more restrained that it was previously.  Gone are the nights spent in dance clubs and weekends spent in hangover-ville, to be replaced with meals with friends, yoga classes, and socialising within the same community.  Having exhausted options to meet men in my circle, especially since the yoga community is at the moment made up of 90% women, (guys, come on, get your assess into the studio will you?) I was led to the only option (apparently) left.

Love

Love

So, in an attempt to get back in the market, I joined an online dating site. I’ve heard that some people find these sites highly effective.  However, one might need to go through hundreds of profiles to find one that fits.  So, not wanting to have to scroll through hundreds of personals, I joined one of the sites where people are matched with you based on some form compatibility.  What could be compatible with a Muslim yogini ex traditional Malay dancer with one foot in the yoga community and another foot in the corporate world, and dyed red hair to top it off, I honestly don’t know.

So anyway, there were a few nice guys on there, and a few weirdos as usually happens on an online dating site, well, and real life. The fact that I didn’t end up dating one of them for a fun time is a big step forward for me. To be completely honest, I met a couple of people who if I had met in any other circumstance would have become friends.  I am told that the site I am on is more “serious,” for people who really want a relationship, which according to some, it looks like I don’t.  And herein lies the problem.  It’s not that I am 100% not open to a relationship.  The fact that I am on a dating website proves that this is not the case.  It’s that either date or part mentality, leaving no space for anything else.  Those who know me know that I don’t work well within black and white situations.

It seems to me that a lot of times, everything else we do is something to tick off the list.  Finish school, check.  Go to university or trade school or whatever, check.  Relationship, check.  Marriage, check. Baby, check. And the truth of the matter is, I don’t want a relationship to be something that I am checking off a list of things to do.  Perhaps I am a dreamer or a silly idealist, but whatever happened to the magic of infatuation? And then from that infatuation leading into love? Or a friendship that blossoms over time into something more? Or even letting go of force and allowing something to develop organically? We rush everything, and this is just something I don’t want to rush.  When you go on that first date generated from an online meet, it is make or break. The option of becoming friends is just taken out of the equation, because of course, when we’re on dating websites, we have everything else in life but a relationship, so that becomes a goal.

A relationship as a goal? I can’t deal with that.

It seems sometimes that although we want relationships, we are not really open to falling in love.  Yes of course it is important to have an idea of what you want in a man, but which attributes matter to us, and at what point do these attributes become another thing we are doing more for the benefit of everyone else? It seems with all the logic and algorithms and boxes to tick, that everything comes from thought and intellect, but what is love if not a matter of the heart, a matter of feeling? Sure, there’s sex, but if there’s anything I’ve seen in our society is that although we have sex with more people in our lifetimes, we’re actually more likely to have some barriers up (including alcohol) and therefore less likely to be intimate.

I strongly believe in surrendering to what is, and that nothing happens until it is time to happen.  We need only be open to it happening.  There is effort and push in everything, and perhaps in this matter, there need not be.  So perhaps, it’s time I shut the account and allow what will be to be.  After all, if one doesn’t fall in love, it doesn’t mean that one leads a loveless life. And being alone doesn’t mean that one is lonely. Call me old fashioned. Call me a confirmed old spinster. Call me a hopeless romantic, or just call me plain hopeless, but you know what? For some things in life, it’s really great to just be able to trust and surrender.

Games

Life taught me a lot of things, but she never taught me how to play games. Not that she didn’t play games, she did. The whole game where she pulls away when I don’t want to do what she wants, the silent treatments, consciously or not, she did it.  The problem is that I never learned, and I don’t understand the need to do so.  So in a world of rules and games, my dating life has never been smooth.

You see, I don’t understand dating and the games people play. What is this thing about waiting three days to call? What is the three date rule? Unless you’ve already done the deed and met when you woke up on his arm, or if it’s a friend you’ve known for a while who asks you out, isn’t three dates a little soon? Plus all these other things that come later in the relationship that I don’t get.  The whole idea of letting someone hang around to validate your own self worth when you’re not really interested, to me, is selfish and childish. The whole “I’ll wait for him/her to call, so that it looks like he/she is chasing me,” is a waste of time and the idea of just being there without giving it much effort, is just exhausting.  Maybe I am naïve, but really, I don’t understand how matters of the heart need rules.

 
The dating world is such a jungle it’s almost as bad as the corporate world. And to be honest, it really is like the trying to get a job. The first date is the preliminary interview, and then sometimes there’s a second and third date. Once you get through that, you’re on probation, and if within three months it doesn’t work out, it’s time to let go.  Games are played all the time, and as much as we don’t want to believe it, “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen,” is very much practiced. Hard work. Then there are lies, cheating, abuse, and sometimes, I just don’t think it’s worth it anymore.  Being only a 15 year veteran, I think I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg in this field and if that’s all there is to it, I’m throwing in the towel.

Perhaps I’m bitter. Perhaps I’m tired. Perhaps, I just can’t keep up with the rules and whatnots.  But perhaps I’m not the only one who feels this way. A friend and I had a conversation late last year. We are both women in our 30’s, just having ended long term relationships. Both of us have jobs, a pretty set social life and were both on the way to changing our lifestyles to what we wanted them to be.  However, when we started speaking about dating, both of us were doubtful about going back into the field.

Yes, were out of practice. We also did not get what was going on. Both of us live in big cities (she in London and me in Sydney), where the dating life seems to revolve around meat market type pubs, and more often than not involve meeting someone while we had beer goggles on.  Then of course, we’d have to be savvy enough to know the difference between a real call and a booty call. Almost a year later, we’re both still trying to get our heads around it.  Needless to say, it’s been a journey, further complicated by the fact that my lifestyle choices meant that pubs and bars are no longer places much frequented.

Is the other choice online dating?

Yes, well, I know a lot of people who met online. Quite a few went into long term relationships. However, after a short stint, I’ve decided that it’s not for me.  As much as the convenience of meeting someone from your couch appeals, I like the idea of letting nature choose. I’m not going to go deep into it, but I feel that dating is only the prerequisite to mating, and to mate, I feel like the whole pheromone/testosterone/chemical/immune system thing has to be in action.  See where I’m coming from?

Friends who are married with kids, or even shy friends think they can live precariously through me.  How wrong they are.  Sitting at home with the cat somehow appeals more than “pulling.” Honestly, even thinking about it exhausts me. Add to that I live in a city that has more of a hookup culture than a dating culture, and I find first dates an awkward test on my sensibility anyway.  So where does one start, or rather where does one head to when the place where one started is just not working out anymore?

Pub Snub

This year I participated in Dry July, it’s a charity event held where individuals give up alcohol for a month and other people donate to show their support. A campaign like this just proves how big a part alcohol plays in the Australian social life, and perhaps a lot of social lives.  Coming here from another country, what jumps out at me is the binge drinking that goes on.  While I was used to the idea of having a glass of wine with dinner, the whole pub culture here was new to me. Of course, I got into it.  Throughout my Masters’ and my first job after, I was drinking quite heavily from Thursday nights through to Saturday night, and having a nip here and there during the week. It was great fun, and I can’t remember a lot of those few years.  Then I changed, so things changed.

In this culture, while everyone is dieting and going to gyms, the alcohol consumption remains high.  My office, probably not unlike other offices, is quite health conscious with all the diets and “healthy eating,” that goes around.   However, like other offices, Friday drinks are the norm, and for some, they go on until Saturday morning.

I have come to realise that if you don’t drink, your social life is somewhat limited. Personally, I have gone through situations where I get strange looks for not wanting to drink, or when someone tries to talk me into having one.  A friend of mine has been called “no fun,” because she didn’t want to have a drink on a particular night.  In a community that values freedom so much, it seems that it only applies to the freedom to drink, and other traditionally “questionable,” acts. When someone chooses not to participate, one is not viewed in a positive light.

Why the high alcohol intake though? Have we lost the capability to have fun and connect with people without stimulants? Or perhaps it’s just as easy as having limited choices of things to do.  Sure you could go to the theatre, opera or musical show on a night out, but you’d be one of the minority not drinking. Also, for the single, if you’re not at a bar or pub, where will you meet people? If you’re not drinking, believe me, your tolerance for drunken babble is greatly diminished.  That hot guy greatly loses his appeal with each alcoholic breath he breathes on you.

During the time of James Dean, a “cool” person would be smoking a cigarette. Nowadays, cigarettes have been phased out, health risks and smell making them uncool.  Drinking is still cool. “I can drink for three days and not get drunk,” says this person in a bragging manner, and “I don’t get hangovers anymore,” says another person in the same tone.  Is it really something to brag about? Sometimes people might not notice, but words have power, statements like, “I need a drink,” are pretty common, and the question is although you want it, do you really need it?

It’s a personal choice, but for me, what happened was that I gave it up first for 60 days.  Originally, I thought it would be easy, but the first two weeks were really difficult.  It was only then that I discovered how much I depended on alcohol to de-stress, to sleep, and to have fun.  It was a period of self reflection. The whole process was an eye opener, but a much needed one. As a result, my entire social life changed. No longer did I make “friends” in pubs. Drinks became dinners, and without a hangover, I could go out on Saturday and Sunday mornings. And believe me, without the weekly drinking, you do end up having a lot more cash for other things.  It’s true however, that not everyone will support you. Sometimes, you lose people, but that’s how it works as you move from one phase of life to another.

At the end of the day though, it does take a bit of self enquiry and being completely truthful to yourself.  If you like an odd drink here and there, there really are no warning bells.  But if you are not capable of socialising/can’t sleep/find it hard to get drunk/lose entire weekends to hangovers/don’t remember nights out, then maybe, just maybe, think about it.  This is a health question.  Is the whole reason you watch what you eat or go to the gym five times a week just so that you can look good when you go to the pub?