The new year is always the time for resolutions. Lists are made: stop biting fingernails, go to the gym three times a week, get a boyfriend, see the grandparents more…and so on and so forth.
Sticking to them all rarely, if ever, happens. So this year, I’ve decided to give myself just the one resolution – and it’s not about doing, but rather not doing. It was an easy one to pick, too. I’ve been harbouring the urge to try it for quite some time. I have resolved not to drink alcohol (while in the UK) for the duration of 2016.
When I posted my ambition on Facebook, it was met with various comments including “booooo”, “this sounds like a crap idea”, and “I was once told by a very wise old man not to trust anyone who doesn’t drink...”. Consequently, I thought I should explain my reason for going sober.
Here it is: 2016 is going to be a pivotal year for my growing business, Blogosphere Magazine, and by the end of it, I want to be able to look back and know that I have worked as hard as I possibly could with – at all times – a fully functional brain. I don’t want to waste any time feeling hungover.
That was the catalyst for my sober decision. But, once I’d made it, I started thinking about other reasons I want to abstain from alcohol.
Now in my mid-twenties, it struck me recently that I’ve been drinking for around a decade. Over 10 years. (I know, where has time gone?)
My voyage into the bottle didn’t start softly, either. It wasn’t a case of the occasional glass of wine…more of eyeballing shots of vodka to avoid the school breathaliser. This was swiftly followed by three years at the University of Leeds, where – in an attempt to get on the same wavelength as the hordes of people dosed up to the eyeballs (what is it with eyeballs?) on plant fertiliser – I binge drank.
Then came London, here the drinking calmed down. It wasn’t about getting wasted, it was about relieving stress. Working at a newspaper, where life was a series of intense deadlines, a glass of wine became synonymous with the end of the day. The work/life divide was represented by the fridge opening, the bottle coming out and having a cool glass of white wine. Red in the winter.
Statistics show that career driven women are drinking more than ever before. Indeed, a study carried out by the London School of Economics reported that “The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns.”
But, hang on, this wasn’t supposed to be an AA-esque post…And I should add that I don’t drink excessively all the time. But in the last 10 years the longest I’ve had without an alcoholic drink has been 17 days (last dry January), and I’m quite intrigued to know what the human body could actually feel like when not ingesting alcohol for a long period of time. Indeed, an ex-colleague gave up drinking in September 2014 and after about three months bumped into her doctor on the street. He took one look at her and said “So you’ve given up alcohol?”.
There’s the ‘career’ and the ‘genuine intrigue’ for this resolution. But there are other reasons, too…
- 99% of all things I have ever regretted in life happened whilst under the influence.
- I don’t want to have memory blackouts and wake up not knowing what I did the night before.
- The fear, which results from the aforementioned, is not something I want to experience again. Self-loathing on a weekly basis is not healthy.
- I want to have full weekends – doing interesting things – and not spend half off them in bed, demolishing packets of paracetamol in an attempt to feel normal again. I just want to feel normal – all the time.
- I want to go on a run, and then another, and then another, and build up fitness. I want to do this without ruining the progress with a huge night out at the weekend and then having an alcohol stitch when I go back to the gym.
- I don’t want to eat fast food – when sober I don’t even like fast food. The only time I eat it is when drunk or excessively hungover.
- I don’t want to wake up with unexplained bruises on my body.
- I’d rather not wake up at 5am at least once a week and roam around my flat naked trying to find a glass of water for a thirst that is unquenchable.
- I do not want to scroll through my phone the morning after a big night and find that I’ve sent inappropriate messages to men. Or see that I’ve made Facebook calls. (Yes, they exist).
- I want to keep my belongings. Not lose purses, phones…and dignity on nights’ out.
- I don’t want to wake up with make-up all over my face, and eyelids glued shut with gunky mascara. And a mouth that feels like the desert.
- I want to spend my money on making memories, rather than on drinking to have no memories.
There are probably many more. I’ll have a think! But that’s enough to get started with.
I’m feeling pretty determined…but then it is day one. Anyway, good luck to anyone else out there giving it a go. Do let me know how you get on – and your reasons for abstaining.