10 Reasons why I’m 19 and will never drink again

Don’t get me wrong, I used to drink alcohol. It was a good year from the summer after high school to the summer before my sophomore year in college. But I slowly started to realize I do not need nor do I want to consume alcohol or drugs in any way. There wasn’t a singular bad experience that brought me to this; just the realization that I am more me, and a better me without the façade of drugs and alcohol. Here’s why:

  1. I only really did it to conform in social settings. Party without alcohol? I’m not begging someone to go get it. Party with alcohol? I’m drinking what everyone else is. To me, this didn’t make sense. I equally am not motivated to consume alcohol in either of these situations yet in one I feel coerced into doing so simply to fit the social setting. The solution? Don’t put myself in that setting.
  2. Drinking “to get the edge off” is not a good thing. For me, drinking was a way to rid myself of the nervousness of being in settings with many people I didn’t know and probably wouldn’t hang out with under other circumstances. When you’re half-drunk you can have fun with anyone, even if they’re kind of a terrible person. This seemed appealing at first but I’ve realized I would rather have three real friendships than a billion fake friendships with people that I really have nothing in common with other than we drink together. That’s not enough to build a positive relationship, nor a meaningful social interaction. Translation? Not worth my time.
  3. Again, not worth my time. I only probably have a good 82 years left on this planet and I don’t want to waste a single more second with a hangover. Even moderate drinking isn’t worth it. You know what’s five times as fun and takes absolutely no loss of motor skills? Road tripping. Traveling. Things you probably shouldn’t do half- drunk. Although I’m young, I have far better things to be doing than wasting my time getting drunk. Do you see the world we’re living in? My time is valuable and can help others. Which brings me to…
  4. I know I’m young, and I’m “allowed to have fun” and I do have fun. I’m young but I’m not immature. The mistakes I make are honest mistakes. I don’t see the point in intentionally getting myself drunk and getting sick, and calling that my valuable youth experience. My valuable youth experiences include navigating the middle of California by myself and trying to learn as many languages as possible. I still make human errors along the way, and I am learning about life. But with intention, not in a beer bottle.
  5. I know I’m in college. I know a good majority of the kids in college consume alcohol and use drugs. Truthfully I don’t care. I am at a university to learn something that is hopefully useful for my future. I am here to become a better human and change agent. I’m not here for the parties. That’s literally $1,000s for parties. No thanks.
  6. I understand myself more deeply now. I know my desires and goals more and more each day and I am centered on these. I am so purpose- oriented that I don’t have the time nor the energy to pretend I am not. Yes, I have plenty of fun but I will not waste away my nights doing something so purposeless. I do not need to conform to others; I need to keep my eyes on my purpose.
  7. I have determined by now that I am an introvert. Expanding my social circle is not necessarily my goal right now. I have enough friends. Going to parties to blend in with the drunken crowd is at the bottom of my priority list.
  8. Alcohol isn’t healthy. Many studies show increased cancer risk even with moderate alcohol consumption. There’s added dyes, chemicals, and sugar in most drinks, and I already avoid these as it is. Plus, over time, alcohol damages your liver and other internal organs. It isn’t worth the risk.
  9. Drugs control you. I even avoid caffeine. Even a small amount can help you develop an addiction. Drugs alter your mind and perception. I am the only one who is in control of my mind and I want it to stay that way. As a yogi, I honor this and practice this. Allowing a substance to control me is dishonorable to my mind.
  10. By keeping my body free of foreign substances, I allow myself to further purify my soul. You probably didn’t think this would get so philosophical, did you? The truth is- my mind, body, and soul are near and dear to me. They are my temple. My home. I guard that shit with my LIFE. I try to live the most minimalistic and natural life I possibly can and honor what I need at any given time. If I have too many distractions, I will lose sight of this and will not be as satisfied with my life overall. I am the sole gatekeeper of this precious life.

As a young college student it can be awkward being one of a few that choose to not consume alcohol, but I avoid putting myself in uncomfortable settings as much as I can. I know my true friends will honor my decision. I am not condemning the consumption of alcohol for everyone; in moderation it can be okay. I can only speak for myself and what I know is that, I have many goals in this life and I am determined to do as much as I can to alleviate the societal ills in this world. Without added distractions, I am more focused, physically and mentally stronger, and have more time and energy to do this. I know now how to listen to what I need much better- and refraining from drugs and alcohol is just one of the ways I can honor that. I just encourage everyone to truly uncover their short-term and long-term intentions, and figure out what is their best path to achieving these. And honoring that fiercely.

And to the people at the party-yes, really, I’m fine with water.

Signed,

Forever D.D. (designated driver)

The beauty of breaking regime

             For as long as I can remember I have had kept track of my food and activity levels obsessively. I have structured my days around a strict schedule of eating and working out. Even if I was really active in a day, I would still have to complete an actual fitness routine at days’ end to feel okay. I have guilted myself over eating foods laden with sugar and salt, although I eat almost an entirely whole foods vegan diet.  I have trapped myself in a mentality of perfection. Perfection morally speaking, healthfully speaking, and aesthetically speaking.

                I am beginning to finally break these habits and throw my toxic thoughts off their course. In the past month, I have worked out less than I have in a very long time. That’s not saying I haven’t been active- as a new yoga teacher, I practice almost every day, and add cardio days in between. But I have ceased the constant obsession with physical activity and its visible “gains” on my body. I have also veered off the raw vegan path. It has been strange to me. As I have rejected regime, I have been confused. I have tried to make myself feel bad, but I can’t. I am too awakened these days to cry over cookies with almond milk.

That being said, I still struggle with orthorexia every day. It has taken so much mental strength and awareness to not pressure myself into keeping this routine. Instead of following a predetermined fitness routine, I have been listening to what my body needs each day and following that. As a full time college student that works two jobs and has numerous extracurricular, I need to do this. It’s not just more sensible and time- conscious. It’s for my mental health- something I have always struggled to care for and to maintain, and something I strive to better each day.

Although I am already beginning to see room for improvements, I cannot say I regret the way I have been living this past month- not obsessing over food and fitness. I am healing with time. I am learning to only adopt routines that feed my mind, body, and soul. I am learning to reject societal ideals of what is beautiful, and not hate myself for not having the abs of Instagram celebrities.

I am learning to respect myself for all of the goodness I am bringing into the world, and realize so long as I am healthy I do not need to run myself into the ground. I am learning to treat myself as I would want others to be treated- dismissing self-criticism and comparison. I have found happiness right under my nose, so it seems silly to continue to desperately strive for an ideal that just isn’t me. Deepening my journey with yoga has been a huge part of this newfound self-worth. I bow to what my body can do, and the ways in which I am capable of transforming lives simply with a change in mental attitude. The mind is everything. So I am thinking of myself as a work of art. Not meant to be dissected, but meant to be celebrated, and to provoke thought and ideas in others.

I am proud to say I have broken regime. I haven’t tracked my food or fitness so closely in over a month, and I feel great about it. Maybe I will come back to these habits at some point, but right now I know I must provide the most care to my mental health, allowing myself to not just have a strong and effective body but a strong and successful mind as well. As I discover more and more what I value in life, I veer off farther and farther from previously held ideas of perfection. I am rejecting consumerism, materialism, and excessive technology, stress, and chaos. I am clinging to kindness, truth, nature, words, self- love, and gratitude. I am grateful for what I am. I am learning to accept it.d098695bc6cca645db901833ed1b2780

d.n.

Each day the sun draws the curtain and brings the shade.

The clouds roll back until they are wanted again.

The sky deepens.

It’s the daylight that taunts us.

Night is calm.

Night is a waterfall of sureness.

But day always breaks and we always wake to our unknowing minds.

We always greet our unknowing face in the mirror and move our unknowing limbs out the door.

We can’t escape the daylight.

We can’t forget that time is going going going and we have an endless array of puzzles to solve and ways to evolve.

The sun always sets, even if you think it’s only 2pm but it’s really 9.

Even if you think you’ve only lived a little but you’ve lived a lot.

You forget, but the sun remembers.

The sun knows what time it departs.

Every hour it sends us a reminder.

Deeper.

Darker.

Daylight is breaking;

Night is coming.

But like fools we romanticize the night and let the day run out of sight

Like fools we let the day go right before our very eyes.

8/5/16

The Truth About Being Vegan

I’ve been vegan for about four months now, which sounds really weird to say, since it feels like I’ve been this way forever. I’ve become so ingrained in my new behaviors and I can’t believe I was ever any different. It really is a lifestyle and a commitment, not a diet or fad. I’m going strong and I think I’m well past the point of my friends and family realizing I’m in this for the long run. AKA they’ve realized they’re either going to have to accept their annoyance with me is permanent or just stop caring. And while I mostly deflect criticisms, I’ve realized being a vegan isn’t all pita chips and hummus. There are some obstacles to face, but at the end of the day I am 150% satisfied with my decision and beyond ecstatic for my future in animal rights activism. My life is at all times filled with chaos, and veganism has given me this great sense of stability, an anchor to my principles, the center to my ever-growing life. It has only expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to both the harsh realities of our society as well as the glorious compassion of humankind. I now have this wonderful connection to so many others who share my beliefs, and I definitely feel more connected to the earth and all of its creations. I enjoy having so many diverse interests in life, but it’s comforting to have this one cause I can call my passion. And it’s helped me to discover all of these capabilities I never knew I had! I recently started cooking and have switched to an almost all raw diet (more to come on my cooking adventures later). I’ve discovered animal rights groups in my area, and I’m stoked to reach out, volunteer, and get more involved in the community. I can honestly say becoming a vegan is the best decision I’ve ever made, and all the divine benefits that have come from it are proof. It is now one of my life goals to inspire others to swear off animal products and join me in the light of a cruelty-free life. I encourage everyone to do their research and seriously consider this way of life. First and foremost I want to be honest with any prospective vegans out there. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the issues vegans face, complete with the solutions.

  1. Haters gonna hate. Don’t be surprised if everyone around you starts acting like they have a degree in nutrition. Your family will ask if you think you were adopted. Your friends will groan when you try to influence where you’re all going for dinner. Random strangers will question your motives. Heck, even a customer you’re ringing up might (oblivious to your choice) obnoxiously declare “I HATE vegetarians!!” while ordering his food. (OK, maybe this one is just me.. #PaneraProbs). People will share their opinions without you ever asking. Just remember, your principles are stronger than this. Vegans can often come off as attention-seeking just because we call for different menus at events. As long as you don’t superfluously announce you are a vegan when it isn’t relevant in the situation, you are doing nothing wrong! Don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking you’re not a majestic animal rights god/ goddess. Others’ ignorance should never get in the way of your ethical bliss.  Being confident in your personal decision will leave you unscathed by others’ criticism.
  2. Operation: Locate food. There’s definitely work involved to being a vegan. Sadly, we can’t all have gardens in our backyard and eliminate the chore of grocery shopping. If you’re already a health nut, it’s become routine to read every ingredient label before buying a food. You’re going to have to do this to ensure you’re buying vegan products. Luckily, veganism is so much on the rise (whoooo!!) that many grocers have specific labels “V for vegan” on their foods and specific areas of the store designated for natural foods. And it’s easy to check if a product has animal products by the allergen labels in bold lettering on the back of a food. When I first became a vegan, I was too intimidated by cooking that I took the lazy approach and bought pre-made vegan dinners and packaged foods. While I did buy organic foods, I’ve realized it is much cheaper and healthier to cook my own meals! This also eliminates any worry of animal ingredients being in your food. It’s actually fun to cook and I feel a sense of accomplishment when my result is delicious. I advise to always make a list before you grocery shop, so you stay on track with the ingredients you need to cook your own meals. Also, find out the best deals for natural foods in your area. I’ve recently fell in love with Trader Joe’s, which is a bit of a hike from where I live, but is totally worth it for the selection. My other favorites? The farmer’s market always has fresh produce for cheap, and Aldi’s prices are unbeatable. Restaurants are another issue. I’ve learned that Applebee’s does not have a single dish without meat, pancakes are almost never vegan (sigh, Denny’s, SIGH), and most dishes are slathered with some sort of buttery spread. You have to be in the know when you dine out. Look up the menu beforehand, ask the servers questions, and don’t feel pressured to order something that seems a little shady. After grad parties abound where my only option to eat was fruit, I’ve realized I have to be self-sufficient on these things. Unfortunately not everyone will cater to all dietary ways, and you either have to bring your own dish or eat beforehand. This is only a small obstacle in the great big world of eating vegan, though. There are so many vegan restaurants now and all it takes is a little research to find cool places near you. Remember, no one is going to completely cater to you. Be independent, and be patient with having to go out of your way a little to get what you deserve.
  3. You’re going to be the weird one. Veganism is becoming more and more popular every year and I’m confident the future will have a lot more of us, but until then, you’re going to realize you’re in the minority. In my friend group, I have 3 vegetarian/ vegans and in my family, none. (I hope to help change that!) At most restaurants and social events, you will probably be the only vegan. I have come to accept this. At times it can be socially isolating. People feel weird inviting you to barbecues and steakhouses. You’re left out of fun times like eating birthday cake and getting ice cream. No matter how much I’m excluded though, I’ve learned to not let it affect me. I am proud to live cruelty-free and there’s nothing I miss being a part of enough to ever curse my beliefs. I’ll accept being the “weird” one, so long as my loved ones accept me, which they do (for the most part). If you think of any social revolutionary in history, they were deemed the weird one when they were first living out their ideals. Thankfully, vegans are moving on up in the world and there’s quite a growing community out there if you search a little. Never forget the undeniable good you’re doing and revel in your uniqueness; it’s your chance to share with others your world-saving ways!
  4. The ugly truth will be revealed. Motives to become a vegan include the moral, the health, and the environmental. As you research your cause more and more, you will discover the ugliness of the animal industry, including factory farming, animal testing, and animal breeding. There is so much cruelty to unveil it is overwhelming. I probably don’t even know half of the evil practices that are in effect right now. While this can cause cynicism and emotional woes, recognize it provides our boundless opportunity to change. Leonardo da Vinci once said “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” You are not going to be able to single-highhandedly take down the animal industry, but by banding together as a community and taking action with petitions, protests, and education we all can take this on. Be active and share your voice. I have so much hope for the future, and we owe it to our fellow animals to be proactive for the cause.
  5. Other adjustments will be necessary. As a vegan, you commit to not just a dietary choice, but a lifestyle choice. I have learned the sad reality of animal exploitation. There are so many beauty and home products that are made with animal products and/or tested on animals. Animal testing is a serious issue in our society today, and we must boycott companies that use it in order to eliminate it. You’ll also be avoiding leather and wool, and even boycotting the circus and zoo. (I’m on the fence about the zoo, but horse races and the circus are absolutely horrific!) Living vegan means so much more than not eating meat and dairy. It’s truly about not supporting anything that uses animals for our benefit. It’s like a whole new world compared to the ways of the majority of society. But it feels absolutely wonderful. You will realize that if you’re capable of abandoning the ideas and ways you’ve been taught to obey, you are capable of so much more as well. Your strong beliefs and passion put you well on the track to becoming an activist, and making the world a better place. In fact, each day you live as a vegan you are making the world a better place! You are saving lives, discouraging deforestation, and fighting world hunger. You are doing so much good for yourself and the world, and it won’t take long to come into your new kickass, planet-saving self. So if you’ve joined me in my plant-eating, smoothie-making, animal-loving ways, Welcome! I wish you luck on your journey and I will be here for you every step of the way. The truth about being vegan? It is SO undoubtedly worth it.keep_calm_and_veg_on_posters-r0f536b2c9a9e4e5bbc71b8eae7f67dc9_f6amb_8byvr_512