My senior year of college and the four months following graduation were a bit tumultuous for me. I was recovering from a nasty breakup the summer before and had no clue what I wanted to do as a career. I dove headfirst into a lifestyle of drinking hard the night before, going to a job I didn’t like hungover, and repeating it again the next week.
I liked staying out late with my friends and getting so drunk I couldn’t form coherent sentences. Sober, I’m typically more reserved. Put a few shots in me, and I felt like the life of the party. People thought I was absolutely hilarious when I was drunk. I liked the attention I got because of that. I liked that people bought me drinks because they wanted to see me more unhinged.
But something happened to me after several months of this lifestyle . . . I met this girl. When I met her, I knew instantly that she was, in the deepest sense, a good person. When I started dating her, I looked at myself and knew I couldn’t continue living like this. Sure, I could have played the “she should love me for who I am” card and continued getting hammered every couple of weeks. But I knew that using such an argument to justify my unhealthy behavior was selfish.
My “fun” lifestyle was really a mask for confusion and pain I was pushing below the surface. I drank excessively because I wanted to forget the fact that I hated my job and that I was still deeply hurt about a past breakup. I know this because on two or three occasions, I pushed the drinking too far and went from being a happy drunk to being a sad and angry drunk. One extra shot was all it took to send me spiraling into a personal hell, where I was haunted by the realities I tried to escape in drinking.
I had a choice to make. Should I continue having the freedom to go out and answer to nobody, or should I invest time in someone who might actually have a significantly positive influence on my life?
I’ll spare you the suspense: There’s a ring on my finger, and we have an absurdly strong one-year old who brings more joy to my life than I could have predicted.
The cycle of getting smashed and performing poorly at work the next day is not sustainable in the long run. It certainly didn’t contribute to lasting happiness. I know a 39 year old man who goes out most nights to shows and drinks tons of beer. He goes to an awful lot of trouble to make mean jokes about me already being old because I’m 26 years old and have a wife and child. He sure has a lot of fun, but I’m not convinced that he’s really happy. When I go home, I have a wife and child who are happy to see me. When he goes home, maybe he has Netflix, I don’t know.
I don’t look at my life in terms of what I gave up. I look at it in terms of what I have gained. Choosing to commit to a woman forced me to reorient my life and make up my mind about who I was and what I wanted to do. As I result, I let go of the baggage that I had tried (and failed) to drink away.
It’s not a choice I regret. Having a beautiful family that I love and that loves me is worth so much more than going out with my drinking buddies. Given the choice, I’d choose my family over my bachelor lifestyle again and again.