The Only Way Out Is Through

Hangovers serve to humble us. They remind us where our limits are, and that, in fact, we do have limits. Their best aspect, however — not that should ever shoot for them on purpose — is that they teach us perseverance.

When you wake up with a massive headache, rumbling stomach, or sea-sickness-feeling after a wild night out, you know: The only way out is through. You can try to sleep, drink lots of water, or pop an aspirin, but at the end of the day, the only thing that’ll truly return you to your fit, excited, fully sober condition is time — and time can’t be bought, bullied, accelerated, manipulated, or faked. You’ll just have to lie there, enduring, resisting, hoping, waiting. As much as it sucks to lose a Sunday, this is decent training.

Hangovers are the result of hubris. They’re an easy-to-understand form of punishment. Life won’t always make you feel bad for reasons you so clearly understand let alone can be held responsible for — but even when the slump is hard to fathom, the recipe remains the same: Hang in there, and don’t give up. It’s never a class we sign up for voluntarily, but if the occasional hangover prepares us for worse, then sometimes, that last drink that was one too much was actually just enough.