Booze Lie No. 2 - Alcohol does not make you successful
Alcohol does not make you successful
As a drinker, I often wondered why I had been dealt such a bad hand of cards in life. I seemed to attract bad luck and mediocrity, from my marriage crumbling after just four years to the fact that all my jobs had involved pointless, dull, uninspiring office work that bored me to tears and brought no financial security whatsoever.
In my late twenties I signed up with a temping agency and subsequently was posted as a generic office girl at a large solicitor’s firm, the base of which was a huge multi-storey office block in the city centre. My role was basically to do whatever any of the hundreds of lawyers there wanted at any given moment – make tea, bring an extra chair to a meeting, rearrange a bunch of flowers on the main reception desk. At lunchtime, I would watch the scores of glamorous female solicitors leaving the building for lunch, dressed in smart pinstripe suits and with magazine-perfect hair and make-up, and I’d feel such a failure.
How had I ended up here, earning around £5 an hour (pre-minimum wage!) and living hand-to-mouth, not able to afford holidays or a car?
When you quit drinking alcohol, you don’t automatically become a millionaire hotshot whose life falls into place miraculously, as if a fairy godmother sprinkled magic dust over the whole lot. But you do start to believe in yourself a little bit more each day; your ambitions stretch beyond making it to the weekend when you can go to the local pub and get drunk with friends; your confidence slowly builds so you push yourself to go for promotions and new roles that, in your drinking life, would have seen you recoil in sheer terror.
In western society, we perceive alcohol as a sign of wealth and success. Businesspeople will cement a deal over dinner in a fancy restaurant with the best Champagne money can buy – whoever knew of this kind of occasion celebrated with a bottle of elderflower cordial? Expensive alcoholic drinks are a sign of success and power in our society, and the media subtly informs us throughout our formative years that this is the case. Intellectuals keep wine cellars and certainly know their Chablis from their Chardonnay – not doing so is a signifier of being unsophisticated. Waiters expect you to peruse the wine menu and often look aghast when you decline.
And yet, since I quit drinking, I have fulfilled so many of my longstanding dreams. I started to write books and got published. I set up my own business and am now doing exactly what I want to do as a career. I have more money then I ever did as a boozer because I don’t fritter it all away on cigarettes, alcohol, and takeaway food late at night when the munchies strike.
Drinking heavily and frequently does nothing whatsoever to help make you successful; it puts the brakes on your potential. The smart businesspeople clinking glasses over a new deal, and the expensive Champagne drunk by sophisticated types who have ‘made it’ in life – these are stories that we tell ourselves to ameliorate our own destructive drinking habits. They are fallacies. True success stems from being in the driving seat of your life, being self-confident and making good choices.