If you know me or have read much I've posted, you'll know that sobriety matters to me.
A lot of people in my life have told me I just need to lighten up. I need to not go so hard. Just have fun.
I've been through this so many times in my young life already and I want to put it into words here.
*Potential Trigger Warning: I'm going to talk a bit about drug and alcohol abuse here. I won't use any specific drugs' names and won't go into too much detail.*
There is fun and then there is fulfillment.
Getting high or drunk or spun out can be a lot of fun, sure.
Those things never pan out to any kind of fulfillment for me. You might be different, and all power to you. That's just not how it plays out for me.
Relatively recently I was at a music festival. We had been partying all night and watched the sun rise. The uppers were starting to wear off and I started to get that "what's next" feeling that always comes afterwards. A deep sense of sobriety not being enough.
Then the psychedelics started to kick in pretty heavily.
I went off into the woods by myself and started journalling.
It was a bunch of nonsense about chasing dopamine fixes that will never get fixed.
Then I started reading some of the old stuff I had written. It blew me away.
There was this confidence in the voice of the writing that I haven't had in a long time. I kept reading and wondering "who was this guy?"
More importantly I started to ask, "why am I not still him?"
With some more reflection, I realized that I wrote those things during the longest streak of sobriety I had achieved in my 20's. About three years of almost complete sobriety.
During that time I learned to meditate, started taking cold showers, and got really into human optimization.
My mind was super clear.
My soul felt full.
I was fulfilled.
Some instability in my life led me back to drinking.
Then to substance use.
Then to substance abuse.
To me, the short lived fun isn't worth it anymore. The come down is too hard. The lack of mental clarity is too real in comparison to the intense clarity I've been able to achieve in a prolonged sober state.
I'll never know what it's like to just have one drink and have fun. That's never been the case for me.
I don't care to convince anyone else to be sober, I just wish people would respect that it's what is best for me.
I know that much.
It's not that I HAVE to stay sober.
It's that I WANT to be sober.
I want to be in state of clarity.
Honesty matters to me. A lot.
You'll hear me talk about freedom a lot and I think that honesty and freedom go hand-in-hand. To be free of the burden of carrying lies or dishonesty is important to a good life.
I don't often lie-- I'm human and slip up sometimes-- but I do find myself lying by omission a lot. It feels like it is necessary in the moment but pretty soon afterwards it just feels wrong.
There's a different kind of dishonesty too I'd like to talk about here. That's putting out one kind of messaging publicly and then living a different life in reality. I try REALLY hard not to do that. Radical transparency is one of my guiding philosophies.
About two weeks ago I was interviewed for this great podcast. I talked about working through mental illness while trying to run a business. A lot of the conversation revolved around sobriety. It was a great interview and I left Peggy's office feeling in high spirits.
Hours later a series of events out of my control happened that I allowed to completely derail me emotionally. I had bought a bottle of wine to share with a girl... even though I knew I shouldn't. Well that girl and I didn't end up hanging out so I went out to a friend's party and drank that bottle by myself. Then drank some more.
Then the podcast came out the next week and I've had this "off" feeling ever since. It felt dishonest to be sharing it without the disclaimer that immediately after recording that interview I fell into the very traps I talk about on the episode.
So that's all this post is about.
Coming clean about that.
I really hope you give the episode a listen because it is one of the best interviews I've had the pleasure of recording to date. But go into it knowing that I'm very much still struggling with the issues I talk about in the episode.
*I was sober for 13 days when I wrote this, but drank last night. Not a lot, but still... controlling this human is hard sometimes...
You can listen to it right here:
And here's a little video clip from a small segment:
A lot of my life, I've spent soul searching.
Most of us do.
A few years ago, I took a tough look at what my values are in life. What are the things that feel non-negotiable? What is that northern star that keeps calling me?
This is a good exercise for anyone to do. I don't mean things like to be successful or make a movie or get that promotion or find a wife. I mean, what are the core values behind those things you strive for?
For me, the most significant core value I came up with is simple: freedom.
Freedom in every way. Whether I knew it or not, it's what I've been chasing for a while.
I think when I was younger, that answer might have been legacy. There's still a bit of that, but I realize now that legacy will come from being a good person and doing my best at everything I do.
Freedom, on the other hand, is something worth fighting for.
Obviously, I'm not talking about the branded version of freedom that we cheer all the time here in the United States of America. I'm talking about real, individual freedom.
Freedom of the mind. Which comes from cultivating mental clarity. Learning to be aware of the sources of thoughts. Learning to control the mind rather than letting it control you.
Freedom of location. This one is big for me. I feel most alive when I'm in a new place. There are lots of new places to explore in this world. Why would I show up at the same office every day if that's going to make me feel like I'm dying? At the very least, if I ever have to go back to an office job, I want to take every opportunity I can to travel on the weekends and any time off I have.
Financial freedom. It's tough. Financial freedom means being in a state of not stressing over money all the time.
Freedom to love. A few years ago, I had my first experience with polyamory, and a lot of things just clicked. It might be idealistic, and maybe someday I'll decide it's not what I want anymore. Being able to be present and outside of a state of judgment or anxiety when experiencing new people (romantically and platonically) is a real state of freedom. It's a real state of love.
A few years ago, this became clear. Since then, I've been working towards it. Now a lot of those values have become tangible realities in my life.
Financial freedom is the one I'm still fighting to turn into a sustaining reality. The others are genuine, and I feel like I'm living an authentic full life when I can be in those states.
So what are your core values?
Do those show up in your life right now?
If not, what can you do to head in that direction?
If so, take a moment and be grateful. I know I am.