Why I Don’t Regret Being Sober in Dublin

Before I became a stay-at-home entrepreneur, I was a financial analyst. And before then I was a prodigious piss artist. That’s not the reason I chose to do my MBA in Ireland at the age of 27, home to the greatest drinkers on earth, but when I did finally choose Dublin’s fair city and a top ranking university for my post graduate course, I made a vow that in this degree, I’d get a first (instead of the paltry ignominious 2:2 I’d got along with some severe liver abuse for my first one).

I got the first; and didn’t drink a drop of alcohol whilst I was there. For the entire 13 months. It was pretty impressive, given that Dublin is not only famed as the greatest pub scene on the planet, but is also the haven for stag nights for English people who – because we don’t get drunk enough at home – have to come away to Ireland to get really, REALLY drunk (and wear those velveteen green hats with bells on. We don’t wear those in England).

But whilst I don’t advocate binge drinking, my single minded focus on getting the grade came at a high price. My classmates thought I was competitive and uptight, I never came out with them unless it was for coffee or tea and I never really bonded with the group. It was armed with my new diploma and a heavy heart that I left Dublin, only ever having seen the inside of the classroom and having made only a few friends, those who were like me, teetotallers.

I don’t like regret and I don’t look back. But if you’ve lived in Dublin in the heart of the city for a year and never been to a pub (even when living a stone’s throw from Temple Bar), well it’s time to correct it. Or at least so I thought. So it was that ten years later, I booked myself into a central apartment for my night out. (If you, like me, are visiting the past and your past involves alcohol, then you’d be well advised to go for an apartment not a hotel. The breakfast hours, not to mention the check-out time can be cruel to those with hangovers).

Dublin brought back memories of academic success…and social longing. But having started off for two hours with friends in Salamanca tapas bar laced with a strong Rioja, I barely had the will to head on out to The Porterhouse where I’d agreed to meet others for Stout and Live music. The problem with reliving your past is the changing definition of fun.

Once upon a time, the only bars I frequented were those where your communication consisted of lip-reading, (which got harder and harder throughout the night due to the double whammy of slurred consonants and impaired visuals). But it wasn’t long that the frequently re-occurring tinnitus prompted me to change my habits and visit the more peaceful café’s. And not long after, that the headaches the morning after lasted ‘til the evening after, and then the day after…and finally weren’t worth it at all. And after 30 minutes of shouting at each other over ‘The Bunko Brothers’ band, my friends and I decided to call it quits for the night. It was 10.30pm.

So it was that I finally saw Temple Bar in all its glory… whilst sober (or at least as sober as you can be after 2 glasses of red and a pint of Guinness). The music was cheesily fabulous, the colours and lights just as enticing as ever. But in the corner of the road I saw two blokes throwing up over each other’s shoes, and a girl oblivious to the passing crowd squatting down to take a pee between two cars. I trod around sick, and cigarette butts in the crevices of the cobblestones and avoided the singing tribe of girls with tinkling green hats and glitter emblazoned t-shirts celebrating Vicky’s hen-do. And when I finally unlocked the door to my home for the night, I ran the bath and put Leonard Cohen on the stereo. Amazing.

Business is life and none more so than entrepreneurship. Because an entrepreneur by definition is never off duty. His (or her) life, is defined by constant learning to prompt the creation of bigger and brighter ideas. All the time. And so not getting drunk in Dublin taught me:

  • To embrace the present, because the past doesn’t exist
  • That there is no such thing as a missed opportunity and
  • That time puts a different perspective on all things

I’m no longer sorry I didn’t get drunk in Dublin all those years ago. I’m only sorry I didn’t realise earlier that my sorrow, was a waste of time.