So you’ve made the decision to try One Year, No Beer and you’re more excited than uneasy about what lies ahead over the next 12 months.
You’re going into this with eyes wide open. You know there will be good days and difficult ones, but you’ve had a word with yourself and you’re up for the challenge!
One thing. How do you tell friends and family about OYNB and going alcohol-free?
Being Clear About One Year No Beer
There’s no doubt about it: many social gatherings and events with friends, family and colleagues over the coming year will feature alcohol. When it comes to the crunch moment of ordering a drink, you could go down the route of: “no booze for me thanks, I’m driving” or “I'm on antibiotics”, maybe even a simple “I've got an early start.”
You would be able to wing it for a while, but long-term, honesty is almost always the best policy. Also, this isn’t about a single event – it’s a whole year – and no one has THAT many early starts.
At the same time, although going alcohol-free is an important challenge and lifestyle change, many people find that starting OYNB doesn’t need an announcement as such.
In terms of how you choose to ‘reveal’ your commitment to doing OYNB, it could be similar to how you might announce an intention to go vegan or something. No big newsflash, no social media shout-out. You might mention it when you and your mates are planning where to eat or if you’re attending a family BBQ or something; but otherwise, it’s business as usual.
So when it comes to OYNB and it’s time to order a drink, you don’t order alcohol. You opt for a something alcohol-free. If someone asks (and they will, people usually do), then keep it breezy and factual. You’ve set yourself a challenge – a year without booze – and yep, it’s going well thanks…mine’s a lime and soda. Mission accomplished. Well, sort of.
Share As Much as You Want To
How much you feel compelled to share beyond this depends on your relationship with the person asking. Many OYNB-ers cite a general health kick, of which knocking booze on the head is part. And of course, it’s true. You’re quitting alcohol because you want to experience life without it. Many – if not most – people give up drinking alcohol because they believe their physical, mental and/or emotional health will benefit as a result.
It gets trickier because of our collective cultural relationship with alcohol. There’s frequent social pressure to drink or to at least be prepared to explain why you’re not drinking. It’s curious thing, this need to give a reason. It’s a regular dilemma for women in the first trimester of pregnancy: they want to avoid alcohol, but they’re not ready to announce that they’re pregnant. Unsurprisingly, they also find themselves dusting down the old, ‘just started-these-antibiotics/early night/sorry I’m driving’ to keep everyone happy.
Going back to the comparison with announcing that you’re verging on veganism, while you might hear the odd bit of light-hearted ribbing about lettuce leaves, it’s unlikely that someone will try to force a rib-eye steak onto your plate, or persuade that you could, y’know, have a pulled pork sandwich because it’s a party. Which exactly is the kind of thing you do hear when you quit alcohol. People generally don’t mean any harm by it: it’s almost an ingrained reaction, the ‘one won’t hurt’ cheery dismissal of your new, booze-free status.
One Year No Beer, Still You
However tricky it feels at first to say that you’ve decided to steer clear of alcohol for a year, take heart: it gets easier. This is in part due to your friends and family seeing that you mean it; you’re really doing this and as it turns out, you’re still you, just alcohol-free. And to be brutal, if you can get used to it, so can they!
Of course, there are real benefits to the people around you knowing that you’re doing OYNB. They can help to keep you accountable. True friends won’t be trying to press drinks into your hand, they’ll be clapping you on the back (metaphorically, if not literally) and supporting you. You might even find that one or two of them want to join you.
In fact, sharing the experience of OYNB with supportive people means that they will also want to help celebrate your achievement. When you reach that 12-month finish line, hopefully the same people who have been around during the journey will be right by your side, cheering you over it.