Sober?January 31, 2023
I’ve been sober for 30 days now, which 30 days ago would have sounded immense to me. I wasn’t drinking “a lot”, but would have a beer or two most nights, and a few more on the weekends. A month later and that sure sounds like “a lot” to me now.
Dry January and I have crossed paths before, but it never stuck. On February 1 I would have a celebratory drink, pat myself on the back, and be back to my old ways by St. Patrick’s day.
I think I’m going to stick with being dry for awhile this time though. The last month has been wild for me.
I feel like my brain is on fire, and I’ve been dousing it for the last decade. In the last few weeks,
- I’ve read 3 books (ok, 2.5)
- coded and shipped an app
- organized my life into Notion
- edited a couple short videos
- taken my dog on more walks
- spent more time with my wife, including a basketball game date night
and I feel like I’m just getting started.
My wife and I use the term “Camisms” to describe my sometimes-amusing/sometimes-frustrating way of talking. To my detriment, she’s a pro at deciphering Camisms now.
- Where’s the scooperino? (serving spoon)
- We’re out of hair goo (shampoo)
- Here’s some bean juice (coffee)
They seem cute at the time, but the truth is I was just being stupid and mentally lazy. It correlated directly with being tired from work at the end of the day - I just couldn’t think of the right words.
My vocabulary is coming back in waves. I can feel the words bubble up when I need them. I’m using 10 cent words in meetings, to the point where I’m cringing and apologizing.
The effect struck me to the point where I decided to change my screensaver to the “dictionary” setting, so I could get access to more exotic words. I’m exultant.
I've struggled with anxiety for years. I hide it well, but I tend to overthink to the point of paralysis. Panic could froth up at any time - it was difficult to control my thoughts.
Last year I found Magnesium L-Threonate which has helped a ton. It's a form of magnesium that can cross the blood-brain barrier. I read some research that linked alcohol consumption to reduced magnesium levels. I haven't had any tests done, but this correlation makes sense to me.
About a week into being dry, I became much more even keel. The magnesium doesn't affect me as heavily now, and I've found myself in the mindset it provided naturally. I still have anxious thoughts, but it's a lot easier to understand them now and move on.
I’m writing this from bed, because I woke up early again today and didn’t know what to do with my time.
Not being hungover, let alone foggy at all, has had a huge compounding effect on my days. I have more time to code in the morning, read at night, and hang out with my family. I’ve been able to finish house projects, and still have time left over to attend a side project meetups with friends (which have been hugely motivating).
If I finished my whole TODO list in a month, what can I do in a year?
I’ve been coding in my spare time again instead of drinking a beer and scrolling TikTok.
I regularly tell people that I’m worried about my career as an engineer because I can feel myself get slower as I get older (so I tried management). This effect is reversing, and faster as I flex the muscle. I can hold multiple codebases in my head again, juggle and zoom in/out on layers of concepts, and stay organized with notes so I can reload faster later.
I think like vocabulary, this has a lot to do with mental energy. I find a lot more success in the morning than coding at night after work. Even if I could code at ludicrous speed for hours when I was younger, 30mph is a lot faster than 0.
This has really come in handy at work too. As an engineering manager, I talk with engineers all day about what they’re working on, and how to move it forward. I’ve been more present and useful in these conversations (I hope). Talking about code is a separate skill, but impossible if you can’t hold complex ideas in your head in the first place.
I shipped my first Shopify app last night! This was big for me - I’ve dreamed about launching a product business for years, and I’m finally taking steps toward it.
Like a lot of side hustlers, a huge problem I have is follow-through. My GitHub and NameCheap accounts are littered with abandoned side projects and incomplete dreams.
The hardest part is realizing I’ve been holding myself back for over a decade. How much more could I have accomplished? Did I squander my 20s?
My ambition is blooming. Past Cam would have given up on this current project a long time ago. Not only did Dry Cam ship it, I also prioritized a list of improvements after launch, have a clear plan for customer acquisition and retention - and 3 other business ideas planned out for Future Cam if this one flops.
If I don’t execute in the next year, I have nobody to blame but myself.
My wife (Borat voice)
This wouldn't have been easy if it wasn't for my awesome wife Kerri. She's been making me mocktails, buying Liquid Death, and providing a lot of encouragment. I probably would have never tried this in the first place if it wasn't for her love.
She decided to do Dry January at the same time which has been really fun to experience together. It seems like she's been going through her own journey similar to mine, but I don't want to speak for her about it. At the end of the day it's been good for us to grow together at the same time.
Thank you Kerri.
I’m writing about this mostly as a guidepost to myself, to mark how I feel after this. But also to inspire someone else if they feel stuck - maybe give being dry a try.
I’ve been hesitant to talk about this at all, especially to publicly commit to sobriety. So to be clear, I will probably drink again someday. Alcohol is everywhere, and a big part of the human experience. But I’m not interested anytime soon - I’ve got too much to do.