Free and Sober

If you knew me at all in college, you know that these two words were not in my vocabulary. You could find me at $2.50 marg mugs on Tequila Tuesday, Slim Jim in hand every Thirstday, crawling on Franklin Friday, and awake impressively early for the Bloody Mary bar at brunch on Sundays. Thankfully, this was before I tracked my spending too much so I actually have no clue what all those drunken nights added up to. Probably a good chuck of my dignity and a few thousand dollars.

Very shortly after I started my entry-level cubicle job, I began tracking every single purchase I made. Every single one. It's the most therapeutic anxiety you'll ever have. Your budget spreadsheet will be brutally honest with you. There's no hiding the fact that you spent $100 on fast food, $30 on nail appointments, and another $50 on alcohol this week. If you’ve ever met me, you know I casually freak out about money on a weekly basis. After seeing all my spending in one place, I had an absolute panic attack. A $2.50 margarita (lime, no salt) doesn’t seem like much, but who can ever just have one? Pair that with my $3 beers on Thirstdays and my abundance of Jack & Diets every Friday and it was a number that I’m too afraid to share. It was exactly the rude awaking I needed at that time.

A common phrase used in Evansville is “the only thing to do here is drink” and I absolutely disagree. There’s something to do in every city, you may just have to put in a little effort. If you go to upcoming events on Facebook in the Evansville area, I’d be hard pressed to believe you can’t find a single thing to do. Make it a point to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.

I was extra creepy and slipped into the DM's of an old friend from high school and asked her to come to the gym with me every day after work. Its fine, we've all done it. Chatting in between weights and exchanging stories on the Stairmaster was more than enough to distract me from all my coworkers sending snaps of sunny patios and cold beers. My $40 per month gym membership wasn't exactly free, but definitely saved me money in the long-run.

Surprisingly enough, Friday nights become a lot harder after you've already committed yourself to an 8 hour day at the office and a tough workout afterwards. Nothing makes me roll my eyes like someone telling me a pregame doesn't start until 11pm. Don't sign me up for that. My grandma bedtime is not a secret and I'm not ashamed of it. I switched out my Jack & Diets for a home cooked dinner and my big fluffy bed by 10pm.

My post-grad Saturdays are night and day to my college Saturdays. You could find college Amanda gasping for water and immediately setting up for an all-day Netflix binge. Now? It's amazing everything you can fit into a day when you wake up at 7am with zero hangover. There's a whole world of activities out there that I had no clue about.

I joined every Facebook group I could involving social activities in my city. Free yoga in the park? Sign me up. Yard sales? Those too. You can find me at the farmers market every Saturday with a nitrous cold brew in hand. Do I need a delicately embroidered pillow with the words to my high school's fight song? No, but now at least I know it exists.

If I have attempted to make weekend plans with you in the past year, I've probably included the words "free and sober" when describing what I want to do. Of course I've lost a few friends, but not everyone you lose is a loss. I set a goal for myself and I was determined to reach it. You’d be surprised how many of your friends are in the exact same boat as you. Slide in the DM’s of that acquaintance who likes to hike, she’ll probably be overjoyed to take you with her. Text a coworker and ask to take a walk instead of gossiping over manhattans after work. Go read a book alone at the river, the sunsets are breathtaking. I promise, if you try hard enough you’ll find something to do and someone to enjoy it with. Get out of your comfort zone, your bank account is begging you.