I’ve just completed month four of my dry year, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this has been an intense four months. By 2021, I’d found that alcohol had taken a larger place in my life than I was comfortable with, so I set a path to change it. My decision to do a dry year stemmed from a need to regain control over my decisions, and what was driving them. I went into my dry year with an open mind, and an eagerness to learn what life could look like when I dried out. I could never have anticipated how quickly I’d grow, learn, and assimilate into the sober curious community. There is so much to learn, and so much to share but below are the most surprising things I’ve learned four months in.
The Sober Curious Community is Close to Home: I started this blog and Instagram account as a means of holding myself accountable to my dry year. I also wanted a platform to learn about the sober curious community, and to share my learnings with others. I’ve connected with people all over the world who’ve embarked on similar journeys, and I’ve been able to learn and grow from their paths. While this global connection has been awesome, what’s been most surprising is learning that many people in my closest circles are also curious about sobriety. When Dry January started, I had friends, family and colleagues reach out to ask for advice, support or just to share their own concerns about booze in their lives. These discussions opened up opportunities to deepen relationships, as a bit of vulnerability coupled with boundaries makes for a solid relationship.
We Have to Ask for What We Want: I’ve been very interested in the alcohol-free spirits, wine and beer space as finding alternatives to alcohol is a big part of what’s keeping me dry. While I’ve found awesome options in retail, I’ve been disappointed with the options available in bars and restaurants. I decided to start talking about this disappointment with those in charge of making AF options available. While everyone I’ve spoken with has been positive about adding or improving upon their AF menus, we still have a long way to go. One example is the zero-proof menu. I’m learning that many spots have them, but only if asked and only if the ‘right’ bartender or server is there to know what I’m asking for. There is also a perception that sober people won’t pay for af cocktails. which is simply false. Events like Listen Bar and others (including my own) have shown that people want high quality, craft cocktails, whether or not they involve alcohol. By showing up and continuing to ask for what we want, we can show our communities that the sober still want to be served.
Education is Critical: Mixing club soda and lime in a martini glass is not a mocktail. I never thought this would be a controversial statement, but I’m learning that unless you know, you don’t know. There can be a direct correlation between drinking something delicious and happiness (neuroplastity anyone?), and that ‘something delicious’ does not have to be an alcoholic beverage. However, how we define an AF cocktail differs from persona to persona. Consistent learning and education about what makes a craft AF cocktail is a critical missing piece of the sober curious movement that must extend beyond Dry January. If I want to keep this dry life going beyond my one year, I’m going to need more than club soda.
I’m still in the growing pains stage of my dry year, but I’m embracing every ache and pain as I know it's creating space for more growth. Cheers to four months dry, and more dry days to come.