At OYNB, we absolutely know that a change of pace is good for the soul. In keeping with that, we’re taking a wee break from our regular testimonials (which will return next week!) and switching things up a little bit with something new. Quirine Overeijnder, a 41-year-old lawyer living with her wife-to-be and two children in the Netherlands, is one of our fantastic members. She’s been with us for quite some time—from her initial 90-day challenge, to a successful full-year challenge, to recently completing our six-week MasterMind programme. She’ll be joining Jen Fairbairns on our next podcast episode on Monday 11 April, and we thought we’d give you a sneak preview of their conversation here. 

This is a condensed, editorialised version of what you’ll hear on the podcast; everything is true and accurate, but certain things have been re-written for reading comprehension. Follow the podcast on Apple or Spotify to make sure you don’t miss Quirine’s full story when it airs next Monday!

This is just normal

I was raised in a loving family—unfortunately, my father died quite young, but my mother is awesome. She’s loving, but she’s also a bit critical about the choices her children make. That’s how I interpret it, but to her, she just wants us all to be safe and healthy, and that’s it. So, in my mind, there was always this idea that I should live my life until 40 and then settle down, the way my family or my mother wanted us to. 

So I had my wild years in university, and in my late twenties and early thirties. I was drinking heavily; going to the bar every day, partying every day. I went to college the next morning, or skipped it. And then later it was a bit more ‘normal’—well, what regular society counts as normal. Two glasses of wine each night, five days a week. You go to those websites where you can type in how much you drink, and they always say you’re an alcoholic. You think, “I’m not—I can do without; I’m fine! This is just normal.” But it’s not the real normal, and when you go alcohol-free you start to see what the real normal is, and what it does to you.

Friends of mine at university always called me a chameleon. So often, we have different layers, and we have different aspects of our life where we can shine and grow. For example, I’ve been a lawyer for 18 years, but I do a lot of voluntary jobs, too. And everybody always says to me, “But why are you successful in everything you do?” It doesn’t feel that way for me. When I do something, I just commit to it. I think many more people should realise that it is within them, all their talents. Be your crazy, weird self. Have fun in life and try different things. And if you’re not happy, choose other things and try to get happy. 

It became a no-brainer for me

I initially did a Dutch alcohol-free programme for 28 days last year. Then I came across OYNB in an advertisement. I went to the website, and there was a whole feeling about it, really. It was down-to-earth, simple, and easy to comprehend—it really resonated with me. So I thought this would be something for me, and I signed up for 90 days first, and then for the whole year. And now I’m at the point where I’m not even counting the days any longer. It isn’t an issue any more. It became a no-brainer for me. 

After about two weeks in, I knew I could do it. The light just switched on. Soon after, I had a wedding for one of my best friends, and I told them in advance that I wouldn’t be drinking. They didn’t ask questions when they were sober, but they did come up to me during the wedding evening, saying, “Just take this rum and cola!” or whatever. I said, “No, I’m not going to do that.” I stayed till 1am, and had a great time dancing. And it was an eye-opener for me that you can have fun without alcohol.

We’re all in the same storm. We’re just not in the same boat.

In OYNB, we always say, “Stay close to the group.” And if you need help, if you’re struggling, or if you feel triggers—post about it! We’re all different, and all our stories are different. But what helps me a lot with my own journey is supporting others. It makes your experience a lot easier. I don’t know how it works. But it’s probably a bit of, “Well, I'm now supporting others, so I’m not going back!” 

When you see people falling off the wagon, they’re full of regret and apologies: “I messed up,” and there is no need to apologise. Make it a learning moment and jump back on the wagon. We’re here for you. If you decide not to jump back on right away, that’s also fine. We’re not here to judge. I saw a quote recently, that we’re all in the same storm, but some have yachts, some have canoes, and some are drowning. Just be kind and help wherever you can. And I thought that was really powerful.

The most important thing is to take it one day at a time. When you register for one of the programmes, just take it slow. When you set one goal, you focus on that goal first. If you want to climb a really steep staircase, you focus on the first step, and not the higher steps on the ladder. 

If you don’t want to come out to your family or friends or the people you regularly go to the pub with, that’s fine. Maybe stay home for the first couple of days, and keep close to this community, because we’re all in the same storm. We’re just not in the same boat. The people who fall off the wagon often say, “Yeah, I lost contact with the Facebook group. I didn’t post anymore,” or “I’m back again because I realised that it’s so important for me to excel and succeed in this thing.” 

Focus on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re heading for

Three or four months ago, there was a lady in one of the private groups that was really struggling and having a hard time, falling off the wagon, and feeling miserable. But I felt that connection with her. And I stood with her, especially in the first days and weeks. Every day, just sending her a message: “How are you doing? Not to judge if you have a drink. I don’t mind—it’s not my journey, it’s yours.” And she’s now at 90 days plus, and she’s shining. She radiates, “It’s fine! I could do it!” The support part of it is amazing. There was another lady who was feeling quite miserable, and she’s now crushing her fitness goals. She’s posting every morning about what she did, and I'm like, “Wow! Look at what you’ve done in only three weeks!” It’s really amazing. Focus on what you’ve accomplished and what you’re heading for. 

It all came together perfectly

They always say, ‘Never make major shifts in the first year you go alcohol-free.’ Of course, stubborn as I am, I did! I volunteer at the Red Cross, and I noticed in the last few years that I really enjoy helping people. So I decided to follow my heart, and applied for a job at a hospital in Amsterdam at TICU (Trauma Intensive Care Unit). I get much more energy out of it than always fighting in a courtroom.

So I was in the middle of that journey, in a more worrying way. Thinking about transitioning from a lawyer to working in a hospital—but how do I do that financially? I had quite a few questions; worrying negative questions. Then MasterMind came through and it seemed like the perfect fit for me.

I think the really great thing about MasterMind is that it radiates positivity. You and Ruari, in one-to-one calls, in listening to the other stories. So the negativity disappeared.

Now, this may sound arrogant: I think I’m rather intelligent, but it took me about 35 days to notice where it was going! I have been in therapy for four years, just for coaching. Being a lawyer is tough, and sometimes you need to vent. In MasterMind, we did the daily tasks, and then it just came to me. “Oh, this is where it’s going!” I just went with the flow, and it all came together perfectly. If you have the chance to join MasterMind, it’s worth every penny. It’s a terrific course to follow. If you’re alcohol-free or if you just want to broaden your views, do it! You learn so much.

“It’s just the beginning”

In the MasterMind course, I had an epiphany: I should really live the life I want to live. To just be free. Make my own choices. It’s not ‘now or never’—even if you’re 40 or even ten years older, you can still do it. And we saw that, with some of the other MasterMind members who are ten or 15 years older and transforming their lives. And that’s very inspiring.

They call me ‘Q The Glue’ in the group because if I see someone struggling with issues, I try to help them or be the binding factor within the group. Really asking, “How can I help you? How can we help you to pass this hurdle?” Because we can pass this hurdle. And yet everyone’s journey is totally different. At the end of the course, we all said, “It’s just the beginning.”

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Interested in trying MasterMind for yourself? Hit the button to find out more and register your interest for the May cohort.

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