When Being a Party Girl Stops Being Cute

(This article also appeared on Huffington Post.)

The photo above is me passed out in the grass at 3am. I was 27 years old. While I don’t remember anything about the celebrations from that night, I remember telling myself that I “needed to celebrate” being back home after a 3 day weekend in LA. I blacked out completely. I somehow ended up in my front yard.  I vaguely remember my roommates picking me up and carrying me to my bed. We laughed about it the next morning. One of my roommates sent me this photo and I posted it on Facebook because being a party girl was, like, soooooo cute. I continued to drink this way for two more years.

Some would argue that being a party girl (or boy) is never cute and I’m sure they have valid reasons for that. I would argue that – in moderation – there’s nothing wrong with having a phase in your life where you have a few too many drinks on the regular, act silly with your friends, and hook up with someone you barely know… as long as you’re safe about it. Yes, you read that correctly. This sober woman supports others getting drunk, safely.  My toxic relationship with alcohol has nothing to do with other people’s relationship with alcohol.

My body was clearly giving me signs that the party girl lifestyle wasn’t for me anymore. These are some of the red flags I ignored for years, and wish I hadn’t:


1. My Hangovers SUCKED

Post-bachelorette party          ((Austin))

Back in my “glory days”, I could party until 3 am, get up at 9am to work a double shift at the bar, then go out again as soon as I got off. But as I pushed into my late twenties, my hangovers got exponentially worse. I would be bed ridden for hours. I couldn’t eat. My head felt like it was going to explode. I promised myself that “this is the last time”, every time. Then the hangover went away and I would be invited to a party and I would break my day-long promise.

2. I Gained Weight  

photo cred: Google Images

In my early twenties, I could eat or drink anything I wanted without exercising and still have a flat stomach.  Once I hit 24, those drunken late night Whataburger drive-thru runs started clinging to my mid section, my thighs, my face, and my butt.  I went up three sizes.  This is around the time that I fell in love with fitness, but developed a separate battle between binge drinking, caloric obsession, and working out.  That’s a whole other story…

3. I Attended 21st Birthday Parties…and I Was 29.

Jager promo at 5th St. Ice House  ((Waco))

In the restaurant industry, it’s common to have friends of various ages – especially people in their late teens/early twenties, since they make up the bulk of the staff.  I found this to be comforting because it helped me feel young.  I could justify my behavior because “all of my friends party, too”.  I saw celebrating someone’s 21 first birthday as an excuse to get HAMMERED.  This was an occasion where there would be lots of shots and I wouldn’t be judged for indulging.

4.  I Thought Sex = Love

My spirit animal, Miranda Hobbes

Sometimes I look at my old self and want to shake her and scream, “He’s just not that into you!!!” I got myself into countless delusional relationships when I was drinking. Ladies, if you take anything away from this article let it be the following: If he only texts you after midnight… if he doesn’t call you his girlfriend… if the only time you two hang out during the day is during a group Sunday brunch… HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. Dudes, if you’re the guy I’m describing in this scenario, just be up front with the women you sleep with. If you’re clear about your intentions, you probably won’t experience the “drama” side of us.

6. I Popped Morning After Pills Like Candy

photo cred: Jenny Chang/Buzzfeed

OK…maybe not that often, but there was a chapter in my life when I took a lot of morning after pills because I had a lot of unprotected sex.  Sometimes I’d even mimic the effects of the morning after pill by taking multiple birth control pills.  While this is technically “OK” to do, it messed with my body in some pretty gnarly ways. My menstrual cycle became abnormal. I was nauseated and had terrible cramps for days after. But none of that stopped me from doing it again. And again. And again.

7. My Priorities Were Screwed Up

Treff’s $2 Tuesdays     ((Waco))

I was always “too busy” to write/study/spend time with family, but I had plenty of time to drink with my friends several times a week. Like I said in #1, I felt like shit… therefore my productivity level was sub par. My to do lists would spill over to “tomorrow” or “someday”(a.k.a. “never”) every day.

8. My Finances Were Screwed Up

Car Karaoke on New Year’s Eve ((Dallas))

I was “too broke” to put $10 in a savings account to invest in my future, but when $10 was in the shape of a shot glass and it smelled like whiskey, I had no problem investing in intoxication. I “couldn’t afford” to go to the doctor or dentist. Rent was often late. I maxed out my credit card. A few months ago, I wrote this piece that further goes into the financial impact having a drinking problem.

9. I Traveled Just to Get Drunk in Other Places

Beer & Cig ((New Orleans))

I’d tell myself and others that I enjoyed traveling to Dallas, Austin, Houston, New York, New Orleans, Florida, etc. to get out of Waco and relax.  The reality of it was that I just wanted to get drunk in different places.  The same dangerous, promiscuous behaviors I practiced in Waco, I practiced elsewhere… only they were amplified because I had the “I’m on vacation” mentality.

9. Duck Face.  Everywhere. 

The night I was roofied ((Houston))

I was that girl. I screamed when I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in forever (ya know, like…two days). I wooed. I danced on bars. Duck Face was my go-to pose. Gag…

10. I Held a Drink in Most of my Pics on Social Media

Drinking a double Jack Daniels on the rocks, my signature drink for years ((Brooklyn))

In this day and age, how you present yourself on social media is often how you’re perceived.  According to this logic, the places you check into, the people you’re tagged with, the photos you post, the hashtags you use, and the photos you’re tagged in all “define” who you are. Looking back on the social media presence I consciously established, I subconsciously presented myself as a confusing concoction of “fit chick who quotes motivational speakers and chugs whiskey”.

The best part about being a party girl was being the life of the party. Aside from drinking, I really just enjoyed being around people, listening to music, and having a good time. I’ve recently discovered how to do these things in healthy, alcohol-free ways. Now, my idea of going out is getting a group of friends together to try a new work out, then grabbing a juice afterwards. I still go to concerts, I just don’t drink. I go to Broadway shows and have candy or cake instead of a cocktail. While I put the party girl to rest, I learned how to redefine the party.

Copy Editor: Alisson Wood


7 thoughts on “When Being a Party Girl Stops Being Cute

    • Lacey

      I grew up in Waco. I want to say I had my first drink at 15 but for years before that I would be at places like George’s with my dad while he pounded a few big O’s. Then when I was 21 I was buying them myself. I will 9 months sober on the 27th I am 37. It does it stop being cute being The party girl. Just like everything else in life, after a while it loses it shine. But being sober, is the best feeling and it never gets old. For me anyway…

  1. Mark David Goodson

    What an incredible transformation. Tawny, you are so freakin brave. What you write and express can help so many people. Particularly I’m thinking young people who don’t know there is another way, a better way to live. I was a heavy young drinker too. Blackouts, and much of the same experience you described. I saw sex as a sporting event, not the world’s biggest act of intimacy. I could relate to so much you described in this post. I hope that many will read it and be as inspired as I was.

  2. brandonbenz

    Tawny, this post is valuable and vulnerable at the same time. Thank you for being so candid. Although we’re different genders I can definitely feel a strong connection to the party girl/boy lifestyle. At age 29 I was passed out on floors being laughed at. I was always too busy to do real stuff like school, save money, work on writing and art. Number 4, I thought sex = love is pretty spot on, I was really naive to the idea of the sex was just another way to get high and really be the party boy in the movies. Number 10 really interests me, when I first got sober I went through all my old social media photos, and I would say over 50% of them involved me with a drink in my hand or drunk at a bar. They also involved friends whom I don’t hangout with either. One by one I deleted all of them, and may have offended some old friends but it was a great way for me to let go of that old person I was. Thank you for your words once again, I’m always excited to get an e-mail in my inbox that says you’ve posted a new entry.

  3. gena @ sober life victory

    Can relate to many of these. My hangovers were awful. Migraines, puking. I couldn’t move. The problem was I had two kids that needed me to move. I had all these rituals to prevent hangovers and would only drink “approved” wine. God bless the Husband for helping me out throughout the years.

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