What’s one of the most “adult” things you can think of? Is it buying a home? Cooking food for yourself? Perhaps even filing your own taxes? Whatever the case may be, one of my most irresponsible yet functional victories as an adult is nursing a rough hangover as a young professional. Houston, We Have a Problem. How do we navigate having a social nightlife while also working 9 to 5? As our queen and savior Dolly Parton has said numerous times, “Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’.” We’re not here to analyze these lyrics but being a “workin’ girl” has its various positives and negatives.
When I first started my full-time job, I was blissfully unaware of how tired I would be and oblivious as to how to make the right choices. In one of my earliest memories at my job, I decided to go out for karaoke and a couple of drinks with friends. I didn’t get home until 1 a.m., at which point the dreadful realization dawned on me that I had to wake up only five hours later. True to form, I was an absolute wreck at work, clutching a bottle of Gatorade and swigging Pedialyte when I could. The risk of repeating that experience fills me with dread, yet it was certainly not the last time I found myself in the same position.
Not having my workday end until about 4 or 5 p.m. Monday through Friday severely limits how much time I can spend out at the bars, resulting in my weeknight revelry making way for weekend shenanigans. That’s OK, because it makes the weekends that much more wonderful to look forward to. But what happens to those lost nights that were once yours? As some of you may know, my favorite night out is Monday. It may seem strange, but it’s basically the weekend for people in the service industry. As I still balance continuing my work in the service industry while also working a full-time job (because San Diego isn’t getting any cheaper), it has me thinking: How do I balance it all?
I love having a day job. It makes me feel a sense of purpose and sometimes it makes me exhausted. After a long day at work, there’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for a nice happy hour or glass of wine at home. Happy hour was created for people working those 9 to 5’s. But happy hour ends at all of my favorite places in the gayborhood at 6 p.m., and sometimes it can take 45 minutes to an hour to get home. When you miss happy hour, that urge to go out and be social when the late evening libations begin can be hard to ignore. As much as I prefer the weeknights to a weekend because there’s far less people out, it’s a road fraught with danger.
You might be thinking, well you don’t have to drink when you go out. That much is true. But sometimes that first drink for some can be a slippery slope. There’s a sense of boldness and irresponsibility when you’ve had a few too many on a night out after work. On the positive side, social drinks are a great time to bond with co-workers, a way to let off steam or to occasionally wait out traffic. It doesn’t have to be negative but it’s important to set limits for yourself. As your resident nightlife expert who doesn’t always follow my own advice, I think passing on some of my knowledge as a professional will save some of you from inevitable hangovers.
Here are my top five tips on how to navigate nightlife as a working professional.
- Limit yourself. It’s OK to just have one drink. You have nothing to prove to anyone.
- Going out early can sometimes help with going home early. Your workday ends at 5 p.m., you get drinks at 6 p.m. and you are home around 8 p.m. Model positive behavior for yourself!
- Having a rough day at work shouldn’t be your excuse to get shitfaced on a work night. I know it’s tempting, but the bar isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll have to handle the consequences that following morning.
- If you’re worried about a place not being lively enough earlier in the evening, look for new places outside of your norm. Many places cater to the happy-hour crowd.
- Being an adult means sometimes having to make more responsible decisions. Staying in isn’t a bad thing and it’s OK to not make a party out of every evening.