• Samuel Gegen

Real Life "Unfollows"

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

"From Hundreds of Acquaintances to a Tight Circle"

So here I am sober-ish. Added the ish because I was figuring all this shit out. Added the ish because I was still afraid to speak the words “Sam is sober.” It’s like I’m in the closet all over again. 3 steps forward, 1 step back. Never thought I would have to come out of the closet again. The sober closet that is. Time would make that much easier but for now what the hell am I supposed to do? My drinking buddies, the gay bars, the straight bars, well really any alcohol infused atmosphere was life. How am I supposed to completely change my life? What am I going to tell my friends? What will people think? These are all questions I asked myself after I chose to quit drinking. A little background story, this wasn’t the first time I tried to quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times I couldn’t even count and thought about quitting ten times more than that! It was exhausting so I was overwhelmed with where to start. You can compare that to anything in life really. I work in the health and wellness field so that is a common comparison I can use. How many times has one tried to accomplish a fitness goal or a diet intake regimen and then fail? Failure is a huge part of life but that’s what shapes us. I will have a whole other story on failure later but for now how do you begin when you want to change a huge part of your life. {Hint, hint. I know the secret and what worked for me!}

People + Association

When you get to a certain age, you have shit to do. If you evaluate what goals you really want to achieve in life, you need to first and foremost evaluate who you surround yourself with. To be clear, this isn’t to knock anyone down or say ‘I’m better than anyone’ because I’m not but sometimes priorities change, goals change and life changes. If that’s the case then take a seat and really think about your closest friends, coworkers and people in your life to see if they move you forward or not. If they don’t, it may be time to part ways. Now you don’t have to clean house but at the minimum, the people close to you should be supportive of your goals and happiness. AT MINIMUM! If they are not, that’s easy, you discontinue your relationship. This was the hardest part at the beginning of my sobriety journey but the most critical. If I couldn’t get support from those around me, I simply didn’t want to be around them. I took a temporary break and isolated myself from pretty much anyone. I tend to be an introvert so this was no problem for the first several months. After a while it did get extremely lonely. I immersed myself in work, the gym and time to myself. When you have so much time alone with yourself, you learn a lot. I encourage everyone to spend some time alone. It made me strong. It made me more patient. It made me understand what I want in life to make me happy. I did attempt to make some appearances out in the gay scene and other places I frequented back in the party days and ran into some familiar faces. By then I was vocal with my sobriety and some people thought it was awesome and other congratulated me. They knew drunk, falling-over, slurring his words Sam all too well. A few others weren’t happy for me and weren’t supportive. A “drinking buddy” from back in the day actually verbally attacked me 3 times at one pool party. He called me boring, a loser and then proceeded to try and force feed me alcohol. I’m not joking – held the straw to my lips and told me to “Drink up bitch.” I kept my cool but was fuming on the inside. A few minutes later, I left to never return to a party like that or subject myself to others who were clearly projecting insecurities all over me. When I look back, that person must be in so much pain. I wish nothing but the best for them and that they find happiness. I’m not sure what they are going through but it must be a lot to be that insecure around my sobriety. This was a lesson to me. From here on out, I am only surrounding myself around people that are supportive when I have the control to do so. I knew it was inevitable that if I attempted to hang around this crew or attempted to maintain a relationship with my drinking buddies then I would relapse. I wanted sobriety more than anything! I would rather be alone and sober than relapse. I knew a relapse would lead to regret, depression and the continual downward spiral. Drinking had me on the verge of an early death and I was not willing to do that dance anymore. I have great coworkers and good friends that were extremely supportive and also my family, so to me, that was enough. My dog and Netflix became my Saturday night date nights and I knew that with time, other relationships, friendships and bonds would fall into place but until then I needed to fix myself. I needed to learn more about Sam. Be alone with Sam and figure out what I wanted in life to be happy. A life that I didn’t need a drink to escape from.

Environment + Surrounding

Environmental evaluation is also key. Where you spend your time can shape you and lead you closer to or further away from your goals. Let me give you 2 really simple examples. In my early 20s, I had a job waiting tables. I worked until later in the evening and was surrounded by similar people my age. We were around restaurant food, staying up late, and alcohol all the time. Being in this type of environment it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat the restaurant food nightly, drink the free soda and then go out with coworkers to the bar after most of our shifts. This became a routine when I worked there. I would go into work around 4 or 5 and work until 9 or 10 and then we would all go out and spend our cash at the bars. I would eat 2,000-3,000 calorie restaurant meals every night and then sleep until 11 the next day. Discipline or not, the people you surround yourself with and the environment you put yourself in can have a huge impact on your life.

Let’s fast forward to the present. I have a job that I love and put ton of hours into. My days start early so I can go to the gym. But I also love to practice mediation, enjoy some coffee and get my head in the right mental space. When I get to work, I am around driven, like-minded people that love to exercise, eat right and learn about new wellness trends. I wouldn’t change this for the world! When we have our leadership meetings, we even set goals every month to better ourselves personally and professionally. There is endless support from everyone on the team and at the end of the day we all want to get better, win and be happy together.

Goals + Sacrifice

If you really want to change your life and hit your goals you have to make incremental changes. You cannot expect to get where you want to by making no changes. Period. I’ve had numerous inquiries and questions about how to make certain changes or hit certain goals and it always starts with the person. YOU and your mindset are #1 that can implement said changes. If you are too scared to take the plunge then just start gradual. If you want to quit or cut back on drinking, go out with friends once a weekend rather than Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you want to lose weight, start with diet or exercise and when you get one down – add in the next. And when you start, make small changes. Example diet, you skip the nighttime snack and add in a vegetable with your dinner instead of bread. Those small changes will lead to results, a change of mindset, and better habits. Here is what you don’t want to do. Don’t say you’re going to do something and then go to the extreme where it’s not sustainable. Anyone can do something for a short period of time but to maintain and keep this as a lifestyle it must be maintainable otherwise you will end up right where you started! I’ve done this so many times I can’t even count! Now for the drinking part, this never worked for me. I had to cut it out cold turkey because there was no balance. For other things, it sure as hell is applicable. Here is a financial example. Back when I had my previous job and was overworked and underpaid, I developed a habit of saving money. It wasn’t extreme but it was a habit. Even when I was stretched for bills, I still saved money. This may have been only saving $10 per paycheck but I got so use to adding a little bit of money to my savings and now it’s a habit! I even made it automated so I don’t have to think about it! Think about that and evaluate where you want to go and sprinkle in some easy changes that don’t overwhelm you.

Call to Action + Evaluation

+Look at the closest people in your life – do they hold you back or move you forward?

+What are your goals? Keep it minimal to 1-2 goals that are really important to you. What are small changes you can make to move the needle closer to your goals?

+Lastly, does the environment you are putting yourself in move you forward or hold you back?

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