Photo by Wu Yi via Unsplash.com
As the month ends, I’m on my usual routine: editing my next month’s budget, looking over my bills, and paying rent. This month, there’s a new item on my list: reflecting on my experience with #DryJanuary. How I did, how being sober affected me (and my budget), and whether the experience might change my relationship with alcohol in the future.
Did I Stay Dry in January?
Okay… I didn’t execute Dry January perfectly. On the 25th, after making it through most of the month, I decided to have drinks when I met up with a friend after work. I can be kind of self-critical about things like this, but I’m choosing not to beat myself up this time. I made the decision very consciously on my way to the restaurant, because I had just finished my first semester teaching and I was feeling very celebratory. So, I had two drinks and offset my Dry January– but I’m okay with that. I think Dry January really helped me see clearly when drinking can truly augment my life occasionally, instead of being a habitual experience with negative effects. The fact that I made this choice intentionally, instead of just drinking because it was happy hour or Friday or because my friend was, is the reason I don’t really regret this choice.
How Dry January Affected Me (& My Budget)
It’s tough to say how it affected me, because a month isn’t long enough, in my opinion, to start seeing changes clearly, without conflating correlation and causation. The biggest surprise I found was that it wasn’t that difficult to say no to alcohol in almost every case. I had fun with my friends, was able to bless them by being a designated driver, and didn’t have to deal with any drinking-related anxiety. All of my friends were incredibly supportive of my decision and never tried to make me feel guilty for not drinking with them. As for my budget, I just barely went under budget on my “going out” fund. I ate out a lot this month– I think because I knew I had the room to do so by cutting out drinking. So, being sober wasn’t a huge budget saver for me, although I did love being able to eat out more 🙂
Will I Change My Relationship With Alcohol in the Future?
I will definitely change my relationship with alcohol as a result of Dry January. I’m not going completely dry again in the near future, but this experiment showed me that I don’t need alcohol as much as I used to feel like I did. I feel empowered to be much more intentional with the choices I make surrounding partying and casual drinking. I don’t have a plan for “just weekends” or a certain amount of alcohol per month, as a younger version of my control-freak self definitely would. Instead, my plan is simply to ask myself “will this augment my life right now? Or will it get in the way of what I truly want?”