I haven’t had a drink for 40 days but who's counting right? Me. I’m counting… Making the choice to not drink for 2 months was a bit of a spontaneous decision. At work we started an 8 week challenge with the local gym for a promotion but I kind of saw it as an opportunity to finally get fit and lose some of the “first year out of home 5kg” weight I’ve put on.
Look, no one from the gym said “don’t drink” but I guess I thought hey if I’m going to put all this effort into changing my nutrition and working my butt off in the gym how hard can saying no to beers for 8 weeks really be right? Surprisingly difficult! But more than that I’ve learnt so much about who I am away from a glass (or 3) of rosé!
You see what I’ve accidentally learnt these past few weeks is something we’ve all known all along but became painfully apparent during my experiment… the fact that so much of the Australian culture is under-pinned by alcohol. I know BIG SURPRISE Aussies like to drink. But have you ever noticed how much it’s just bloody everywhere! We drink before we play sport, we drink after we win! We drink at lunch with work mates, we drink at dinner with friends. We drink when we are happy, we drink when we have had a rough day, week, month!
As soon as you order a glass of water with some ice (maybe some lemon if I’m feeling fancy) you get this look from the people around you, a look I have come to recognise as very judgemental. Some people were even genuinely upset at the idea of me not “having a good time” while we were out socialising.
Which lead me to a little daunting bit of self-reflection… when did “having a good time” become defined by the amount of booze I chugged down?
At this point I’d like to clear up the fact that I’m NOT a HUGE drinker. I mainly drink on weekends if I’m out with mates but even then, a big night for me constitutes 3 pints of beer and I’m out for the count. I’m a two-can Sam, an all envied ‘light weight’. But why does going from even just a few social beers to zero feels like a battle every single day?
I went to a concert in Melbourne and all I could think the whole time being surrounded by plastic cups filled with all kinds of mid strength goodness was, would I be having more fun if I had a little buzz on right now? It’s kind of scary to think how much we rely on liquid to help fuel almost every social interaction past the age of 18 or in some cases even earlier.
In the past month I’ve found myself dreading nights out because I know that I’m going to have to fend off the questions and suggestions of “but why?”, “just one won’t kill you!” and “c’mon we haven’t been drunk together in AGES!”. You’re right we haven’t been drunk together in ages mate and maybe that’s because at 25 I’m starting to hate waking up with a hangover and a dry mouth with the faint taste of kebab from the night before. Maybe I’ve out grown that ‘let’s-drink-til-we-forget-that-guy-that-didn’t-text-me-back’ phase of my life.
Now I know what you're thinking at this point, yo jess get off your high horse and just join us! Have a little fun! I’m not saying I won’t ever go on a bender again but what I'm trying to figure out is how to fit in anymore if I’m not drinking with everyone else. Which leads me to April 1st, 2017. The last day of my 8 week challenge. April 1st marks the first day that I can drink alcohol again. And it scares the HELL out of me!
But I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’m so scared! If I was to take a stab in the dark it might be that I’m scared this 8 weeks will have meant nothing if I go back to slamming down Vodka Lime Soda’s on the weekends. Or maybe it’s that I kind of like the new extremely sober me. Truth is I don’t know how alcohol fits into my life and I’m afraid of trying to work that out. The 8 week challenge will end April 1st but slotting the social norm of drinking and what that means for “having fun” is the real challenge that’s only just beginning.