I have attended many business conferences over the last fifteen years. Today is the first one I’ve been to since choosing sobriety.
There are a few differences in attending one sober – some small, some big.
No cocktails the night before. I used to start drinking on the flight to the conference – and then have plenty of wine with my expensed dinner that night.
Instead, I go to bed early, and am up at the crack of dawn. No extra-strength Tylenol needed. And, I’m one of the first to arrive when doors open. 🙂
And since I’m not dragging myself out of bed – in some variation of hung over, I take a miss on typical conference food: greasy stuff, super sugary carby ‘breakfast’ stuff – and barrels of coffee. Instead, I have some coffee, and root around finding the somewhat healthier options, such as yoghurt, plain granola and fruit.
Conferences are long and require stamina. Being hung over makes it such a challenge. Because I am not hung over, I don’t feel exhausted. I am able to avoid the constant barrage of artificial highs on offer throughout the day. Cookies, candy, ice cream, soft drinks and chocolates. It feels great not having to prop myself up with sugar and caffeine generated false energy. (What goes up must come down!)
Because I am not hung over, I easily make it through a day of mostly standing up having repetitious conversations about my company and their company. I remember names. I smile, meet and greet all I see.
And then there’s the de rigueur cocktail party at the end of each day. The open bar sponsored by one of the vendors at the conference.
Here’s when I really notice the difference. Everyone has cocktails. My colleagues have cocktails. My female colleague is starting to get red teeth from her red wine. I think about how I must have had that same red stain. By the end of the second round of free drinks I start getting bored with the shift in conversation as the alcohol takes hold. It is shifting from interesting to loud and not interesting. I have no interest in continuing on with the gang for a night of this. And I think about how I used to love to keep the party goin’.
And so I go back to my room. And relax.
I don’t have to worry about what I said (or don’t remember what I said) to co-workers, customers and potential customers.
No worries. No cringing. No hang overs.
P.S. Day Two of the conference, and I just met my co-workers early this morning at the stand. They are bleary-eyed, hanging-onto-the-stand-hungover. OMG.. so glad that’s no longer me.