When I was drinking, I thought that not drinking was boring. In fact, I had a huge fear that I would not have fun or enjoy life without alcohol. I’d say things like, “I don’t trust people who don’t drink.”

The sad truth was that drinking was not making my life more fun or more enjoyable — I was just really miserable when I felt like I wasn’t allowed to drink. And if I was drinking to “have fun,” what does that say about me, my friends, or the activities I was participating in? Why did I have to numb out before I could enjoy myself?

I can honestly say that yes, there is fun in sobriety — more fun than I ever experienced drinking. Here’s why: 

1. You’re funnier sober.

Alcohol slows you down. Have you ever been stuck listening to someone who has had a few too many drinks try to tell a joke and they take so long that no one laughs once they get to the punch line? Yeah, there’s nothing fun about that. 

Without the booze, you’re sharper and wittier. You’ll rake in the attention and laughs, and you’ll laugh along with your crew. Plus, as a bonus, laughter releases the same endorphins that drinking can but there’s no crash from it. Your abs might be a bit sore the next day, though!

2. You’re getting real.

The great thing about not drinking is you’re actually there. No need to ask friends what happened last night or try to piece together what went down from your camera roll. Instead, you’ll actually remember everything. The laughs, the conversations, the glow from being with people who make you feel good. 

That feeling stays with me and makes me look forward to the next time I can hang my friends again. Alcohol robbed me all kinds of good memories, and I’ll always regret that.  

3. You feel freer.

One of the things I struggled with when I drank — one that kept me from being fully engaged and enjoying myself — was that I was always trying to control my drinking, which stressed me out. I felt guilty if I drank too much and deprived if I didn’t get to drink as much as I wanted. 

The mental anguish kept me from being engaged with my friends in the first place. Now, I can let loose and just focus on the people I am with.

4. You feel unafraid.

For something that is referred to as liquid courage, booze sure didn’t get me to do much of anything, let alone anything brave. Since I’ve quit drinking, I no longer hold myself back from trying new things for fear that I’ll embarrass or hurt myself.

Now I’m able to go high scale a rock wall, try that amazing restaurant where no one speaks English so you’re not sure what you’re eating, or attempt that salsa dancing class I’ve always wanted to take. I can have fun because I know I’m in control.

But want to know the biggest reason that I can have fun now and why all of the above are possible for me? I’m no longer self-medicating. 

Someone told me recently that happiness is based on your circumstances but true joy is within you. I didn’t know it when I was drinking, but I didn’t have joy — I relied on alcohol to fill that void, and I thought it was making me happy. Really, what it did was mask my depression, from which I suffered for 17 years. Alcohol was a band-aid but any happiness I thought it brought me was fleeting.

So yes, not only is being sober more fun but, most importantly, you can find actual joy when alcohol is not in your life. In the long run, that is so fulfilling that happiness and fun will soon be found in unexpected places.