Booze Lie No. 3 - Alcohol Does Not Make You Cool
Oh, how I longed to be cool in my youth. It was my number one priority, ahead of schoolwork, way ahead of career aspirations or taking a gap year or being content. I just wanted to be a dude, to fit in with the cool kids and not give a damn about authority or expectations.
The music I listened to provided me with my role models. I got drunk a lot, dabbled in drugs, and wore heavy eye make-up and clothes bought from thrift shops and market stalls. I wanted to run away and live in Ibiza on the beach with my boyfriend. I was bored during the week and lived for Friday and Saturday nights when I could get out of it and dance and flirt and be with my tribe.
Back then, in my late teens and early twenties, I probably did reside somewhere on the ‘cool’ spectrum. But then, once again, things began to unravel, and by the time I quit drinking for good in my mid-thirties, I was seriously uncool.
Being cool means being in control to a degree; in control of the person you are and everything you say and do. You can’t be cool when you are passing out on the settee, throwing up in the pub toilets or telling someone the same story over and over again while they desperately try and escape your company because you have turned into the world’s biggest bore.
Over the years, the three coolest people I have known have all been non-drinkers – not because they ever had a problem with alcohol but because it did nothing for them and they were simply never interested in drinking the stuff. They were happy in their own skin and nothing fazed them. All three of these people approached life with an almost Zen-like mentality; whatever happened was destined to be that way, like a river flowing along with its own agenda. There was no need to grow heated or anxious, or to escape reality by drinking vast quantities of booze. The cool people never acted out of character, always remaining in that same, laid back state – exactly the state of mind I was striving so hard to achieve through my endless consumption of alcohol.
Over the last seven years since I stopped drinking, I have been the calmest and closest to living a Zen life that I’ve been as an adult. I still have my ups and downs, I’m still prone to the odd stressed-out meltdown (usually something to do with having too much work on, dogs leaving muddy footprints all over the place and kids running round the house shouting at high volume) but overall, looking at the big picture, I’m a million miles away from the depressed, anxious, unreliable and overwhelmed woman I was as a drinker. The myth that alcohol somehow makes us cool is exactly that – it’s a marketing strategy that makes us buy the right brands to drink in a bid to fit in.