To be honest, the internet does not need another sobriety reflection post.

A Google search for lessons learned from getting sober returns 311 million results and an ungodly amount of X Lessons Learned in X Years of Sobriety articles.

Sobriety has entered the zeitgeist and been on the up and up. Influencers hype the sober lifestyle on social media. Addiction memoirs have become a literary staple. Micro breweries and massive beverage companies have all hopped on the NA bandwagon. I even came across a non-alcoholic canned pale ale microbrew on my trip to South Korea last month (it was pretty good).

There is an endless wave of writers, podcasters, celebrities and entrepreneurs hopping on the sobriety bandwagon these days. The last thing we need is another millennial blogger to tell us about his little sobriety achievement.

But you know what? Sometimes a millennial succumbs to their true nature.

Today I hit one full year of sobriety, for the first time ever. So I will do my little victory lap and preach to the internet about one lesson I learned from the past year.

1. The benefits of sobriety outweigh the discomfort

Although there is undoubtedly a growing sobriety movement, drinking is still the default path.

In addition, the legalization of cannabis across several U.S. states as well as abroad has led to a shift in public perception. Dunkin’ Donuts used to be the only establishment you would find every two miles in Massachusetts. Now it feels like for every Dunkin’, there is a recreational weed shop right next door. The acceptance of cannabis use as a new social norm has been growing. I imagine sales at Dunkin’ have been as well.

Given this wide acceptance of alcohol and growing acceptance of cannabis as social norms, the decision to not partake in these substances means going against the grain. And going against the grain will bring you discomfort as you navigate your way through the world.

Although there can definitely be discomfort and social pressures when trying to abstain from cannabis, alcohol is the real challenge.

Deciding to live your life without alcohol is like burning the unwritten social drinking contract that is embedded in the minds of the masses. Adults assume that all other adults drink, and if they don’t, it’s because they are probably an alcoholic. As Chris Williamson puts it, “Alcohol is the only drug where if you don’t do it, people assume you have a problem.”

Showing up to a party and not having a drink in your hand will make others uncomfortable. The host will ask you what you want to drink. If you say, “Nothing, I’m fine right now,” you will make them more uncomfortable. You will receive the same question over and over from multiple people. You will be offered alcohol multiple times, and may be pressured to have some. You may be forced to give a reason for why you are not drinking, and some may refute your reasoning. “C’mon, lighten up. Let loose a little,” they might say.

Going sober strips away the social lubricant that so many rely on. Alcohol gives everyone in the room permission to loosen up. All it takes is the crack of a can and a few sips to slip into fun mode. You are also allowed to have a few more than you should and get really silly, if you so choose. This is one of the many agreements built into the contract.

As a sober person, you don’t get the same benefits as the group. You have to give your own self permission to loosen up. You must traverse the uncomfortable divide between the drunken energy in the room and the hyper awareness of your sober mind. This is a muscle that can only be built by stumbling through awkward encounters and learning how to feed off of your own energy.

It is easy to map this all out in your head from the comfort of home on a quiet Tuesday night. It is much different to walk into a loud bar, drive up to a busy party or settle into a long wedding weekend and face the challenge of completely abstaining from alcohol while everyone else is partying like it’s 1999.

I have felt all of these discomforts at some point over the past year, and in previous stints of sobriety. The positive side of the coin is that beyond feeling a bit anxious in certain social settings, I have not found any other negatives to quitting weed and alcohol. The rest of sobriety, for me, is all upside. This is where the contract gets torched and the fun begins.

As of today, with one year of sobriety under my belt, I feel more energetic, fit and happy than I ever have before in my adult life.

Reflecting back, this makes lots of logical sense. I get more quality rest, because my sleep is not degraded by alcohol or marijuana. I never wake up with a hangover from the night before, so I can use the extra energy to workout, play disc golf or do some yard work. I make better choices with my diet, because I have more energy and willpower to create healthy meal plans and cook at home. I am much more aware of how my body feels and what it might need, since I am not self-medicating or altering my physiology with substances.

This honing in of sleep, diet and exercise creates an ever-accelerating flywheel of health that produces even more benefits, like increased productivity, massive personal growth, room for spiritual pursuits, and healing of emotional wounds. This allows me to step further outside myself and focus on the important things in life, like connection with friends and family and being kind to others. And the culmination of it all makes me a happy old sport.

As a man, giving up substances in exchange for a life of clarity makes me feel like more of a man. I know that I will always have my wits about me as I navigate the world. I can always be relied on to get people home safely from the party. I will always be ready to strike at an opportunity when the iron’s hot. I will always be ready to protect my family at a moment’s notice. And I won’t be affected by the negative impacts that alcohol can have on testosterone and the male reproductive system.

My life has improved drastically since "hopping on the wagon", but I don’t intend to sell the sober dream to anyone. I just enjoy reflecting on my experience, and if anyone becomes inspired by it, that’s great. Some people drink and consume substances in a completely moderate and controlled fashion. Maybe they are better off this way, and would be taking a hit on quality of life by burning the social drinking contract. Maybe they are meant to stay on the default path.

I believe the path of discomfort is the right one for me, but I don’t know for sure. Things change, people change, the world changes. I always reserve the right to change my mind.

For now, I am content to carry along the path and transmit my little reflection post to the archives.