When I made the decision to kick the (beer)can to the curb, I was going through some big realizations. I had been going out and drinking regularly since I started university two years ago and I was definitely drinking more than my "recommended" servings. I realized that I wanted to make a change in my life and I wanted it to start now, with Dry January making my alcohol consumption the first thing on the chopping block.

Dry January, aka the practice of saying "bye feliciaaa" to your trusty alcohol for the entire month of January, showed up somewhat serendipitously in my life right as I needed it. Some people use it as a detox from the heavy drinking you do to get through family Christmas parties, and others do it as the start of a New Year's resolution to hit the te-killya less for the whole year. 

For me, there were two things that happened and shaped why I wanted to stop drinking for (at least) the official Monday of the months.

Why I Wanted to Go Sahara Desert Level Dry

As someone who once had their Instagram bio as "always down for a good time," I never expected myself to be the type to do Dry January. A lot of my activities with my friends involved drinking and some of my most memorable times in college have been centered around going out. The thing is, on a rainy night out with friends on the very first weekend of January, I realized that it wasn't the drinking that made those memories so amazing.

If anything, alcohol was just making those times easier to forget or easier for them to go wrong. It was the friendships and the people I was with that made it so special, and those would be there regardless of the drinking. This realization was the first thing that made me want to jump the Captain Morgan-flavored ship. 

Ellie Gilchrist

Realization number two was finding out that one of the people I looked up to most in the food industry had cold turkey quit drinking five years ago and hadn't looked back since. To me, she was cool as hell and to find out that she still lived this rad life without ever drinking, or even because she stopped drinking was a huuuge aha! moment. Above is the exact DM I sent her after reading her reasoning for it, before deciding to hang up my beer goggles (if at least only for January). 

How My Social Life Did Not, In Fact, Die a Slow and Painful Death

The unusual thing about my experience is that I didn't tell anyone I was doing Dry January. When I was in middle school, I had a teacher tell me that if you tell someone your goals, you're less likely to achieve them. Who knows why, but it's stuck with me ever since. 

So instead of saying I was doing Dry January, I would just say "I'm not drinking" if someone offered me a drink, and my friends were immediately accepting of that and never pushed me on it. People care and notice so much less about things like that than I thought, and if they do care enough to not support your choice, eject them from yo' life.

Ellie Gilchrist

I had worried that not drinking would basically be signing the death certificate of my social life with no Jon Snow-style resurrection in sight, but it was actually better without drinking. I had just as much fun, but now, I could remember the entire night and didn't need my friends to take off my makeup for me at the end of the of it. If that's not a W, I don't know what is. 

Better Skin, a Bigger Wallet, and Better Times

One of the biggest arguments for doing Dry January is the health benefits. And boy, did I feel them. Within one week, my skin was better. Within two weeks, I was sleeping better; not to mention the lack of hangovers. I had more time on my hands to do all the things I wanted to do because I wasn't fighting back death every Saturday and Sunday morning. 

I also saved a ton of $$. As a broke college student with the food preferences of a famous food blogger, this alone would be enough to convince me to stop drinking. 

What I'll Do in February and Beyond

While I don't think I'm going to completely stop drinking, I am going to change the way I drink. I realize now how much I don't need to drink to have fun, and that I would have enough money to buy myself, like, 20 extra avocado toasts a month if I didn't spend it on alcohol. Or the so-called "more important things," like saving up for a house

At the end of the day, Dry January did help me change my life and literally gave me a clear head to think about what I really want out of the next two years of university. My advice for anyone who wants to try something similar would be to go for it! You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.