Listen to the full interview here
Welcome to Coffee with a Coastie. I was excited to have Maz Compton join me to discuss life, sobriety, her podcast ‘Last Drinks’ and her latest book of the same name ‘Last Drinks’. Maz’s journey has been a captivating one, spanning from MTV host to becoming a gym owner and a prominent breakfast radio host. So, it was an honour and a pleasure that I got to sit down and chat with Maz.
Before we jump into talking about your book and sobriety, can we get to know a little about Maz? You were born in England and came to Australia with your family when you were 8 as your dad was going to join a ministry, though didn’t. You then ended up growing up on the Northern Beaches. So I wondered, what was Maz’s life like growing up?
You’ve nailed it. That’s exactly what happened. Born in the UK and when I was 8, my dad came to study at a bible college in Sydney, so relocated the family for 12 months. Then I think my parents just fell in love with the sunshine. Unfortunately, a series of events meant that my dad didn’t end up going into the ministry, but the undertone of religion was a huge part of my upbringing.
I was a very confident child and hung out with the nerdier group at school. I was the president of the Environment Club and always found myself in leadership roles. I was really comfortable leading and I acted a lot in high school too. I was also really good at public speaking and would say it was one of my strong suits. That was one of my strong suits. I was the Lions Youth of the Year at one point. Being an extrovert, I was probably a little obnoxious thinking about it now, but that was me. I felt like I was that kid that ended up being friends with everyone at graduation.
In your latest book ‘Last Drinks’, you mention that in your MTV hosting days, even though things were going great you were waking up each day with compounded feelings of anxiety, feeling over managed, under–valued, insecure, and having imposter syndrome. Can you talk about this time in a way that would help someone else battling the same thoughts?
Yeah, so I think one thing to note is that I believe everyone has imposter syndrome. Where at some point in life, everyone may feel inadequate for what is on their plate. At this point I would encourage you to manifest a dream that you really do want but know that it might not feel how you think it’s going to feel if you get it. Also learn the tools that will help you cope with those moments. Do a bit of work on you, whether it’s through therapy or counselling, I don’t know, but do some work on you and learn some strategies to sit with big feelings in uncomfortable moments, as I think this will help.
You mention in your book that you dabbled with sober curiosity for a year before stopping drinking on new year’s eve of 2014. What does dabbling in sober curiosity look like?
Sober curiosity is just about questioning your relationship with alcohol. If you feel uncomfortable about how much you’re drinking, if you lie about how much you drink, if you drink by yourself or if you just think about alcohol a lot. I remember at lunchtime at work being like, I can’t wait until 6:00pm so that I can have a drink. You know, those sort of invisible boundaries and red flags around alcohol are worth questioning and that to me is the definition of sober curiosity, just asking yourself questions around your drinking behaviour.
You’ve said you didn’t plan on never drinking again originally. How long was it before you started saying I’m never drinking again?
Probably five years in, maybe six. So only a couple of years ago I started saying it out loud. For me, it was better not to do the never ever in the first few years. It was much better to say to others and to myself, I’m just not drinking right now and it’s really working for me.
The first episode of your ‘Last Drinks’ podcast was on 28th June 2022, and you are now 67 episodes in, at last count. When you first started the podcast did you have any idea just how many people were prepared to share their story?
Not really. I didn’t really think about it as a long–term thing. I just had a bubbling inkling for a while that I wanted to do a podcast and then I just started doing it. I did it because I love having conversations about sobriety. I love hearing other people’s journeys and I love the long form conversation of a podcast, because you get to go a little bit deeper with people. The fact that people listen, having had over 55,000 downloads, blows my mind. It’s overwhelming how impactful it’s been.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt through hearing people share their stories on your podcast?
I guess it’s just affirmed to me that everyone’s sobriety is their own story. Because I’ve not had an identical conversation on the podcast, and I have chatted to well over 70 people now. Everyone’s journey is their own, they wrestle with it and they get through it in their own unique way. And so, I love that because it means it’s available for everyone.
Now you have written a book of the same title ‘Last Drinks’. The book covers everything from yours, to other people’s personal stories, science on how alcohol affects us both physically and mentally, a sober toolkit, along with a 30 day alcohol free journey, that the reader can go on. How did you decide on the structure of the book and the way it is written?
The principle of great storytelling is just to have a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s how I go into every single radio break that I do on air. You have a beginning, you have a middle, and usually a zinger at the end. And so, I just applied the same logic of storytelling in the book. The beginning is alcohol, what alcohol is, why alcohol is the problem, what alcohol does and how it affects us. I talked to a neuroscientist about how it affects our brain chemistry. I talked to a GP about how it affects our body functions and a sleep expert about how it impacts our sleep. The middle bit is sobriety and what that can do for you and what that looks like on other people. Along with curating a sober toolkit to safeguard your sobriety by having a bit of a game plan. Then the final bit, is a practical handbook where I can hold your hand through your first 30 days as your sober buddy, as I really wanted to support and equip people. This is why the third part is so important.
What were your early months of sobriety like? And if we were to look at the things mentioned in the sobriety toolkit within your book, like journaling, bedtime routines and breathwork, what did you find most helpful?
Journaling is probably the biggest. The first 30 days of January 2015, I journaled every day. Sometimes I wrote about what I was thankful for. Sometimes I wrote about what I was upset about. Sometimes I didn’t know what to write about, so I wrote about not knowing what to write about, but I did write a daily journal every day. Then a few months after that I went back and read what I journaled and it was very insightful. What I discovered about myself was the lack of self–compassion and self–worth that I had. So, then I was able to go on a journey and implement some things in my life that would sort of, you know, prop me up in the self–esteem department. Everything’s in the toolkit that I did at some point to either fill in time or that I leant on to explore something new.
Really, if I’m going to be completely honest, I spent so much time drinking that when I stopped drinking, I had loads and loads of time on my hands and it was very overwhelming at first. So, I was like, well, I just need to do stuff and that’s really I think what the first 30 days is about, just surviving. Then from there, you can start to do some self–work.
I would like to finish on a line that is mentioned in Maz Compton’s book ‘Last Drinks’ for anyone that does choose to go on a journey of sobriety. The line is, if you do slip up, please be kind to yourself.
Go to coffeewithacoastie.com.au to hear the full conversation where we talk to Maz about:
- Working through deep grief in
- Her first drink at 15
- Dealing with feelings of lack whilst working at MTV
- Maz’s journey of googling ‘Am I an alcoholic’
- The impact her ‘Last Drinks’ podcast is having
- Her latest book ‘Last Drinks’ in more depth and much more…