2018 in Review

I was supposed to do this four days ago, but honoring my first resolution, I'm acknowledging that writing this post late doesn't actually matter, declining to beat myself up about it, and moving on.

My 2018 resolutions were:

  • No more than five drinks per week
  • Do something creative every day
  • Wake up on time
  • Limit social media time to 15 min per day 
  • Honor the budget!
  • Read 50 books
  • Listen to more music
  • Be positive
  • Do more scary stuff
  • Hike or dog park the pups once a week
I did... fine on some of these, great on a couple, and totally dropped the ball on most of them, which I am okay with.

I started off the year nailing the fewer than five drinks a week thing. That lasted until summer when back to back destination weddings threw a wrench in the works. So I did a dry month in September, which was shockingly easy, then in October I went back to drinking and realized I don't really care that much for alcohol anymore. 

Well, more accurately, I don't care for the way alcohol makes me feel the next day physically or emotionally. Now that I'm in my thirties, I find that just one or two drinks is enough to make me feel hungover the next morning about 50% of the time--it's a total crapshoot, and frankly the fun no longer outweighs the suck. 

Aside from the physical symptoms, I've found that drinking in any amount makes me feel terribly anxious for a day or two afterwards. While I'm drinking, I feel all loosey goosey and fancy free, a social butterfly ready to take over the world. But then I wake up the next morning in a panic--what did I do, who hates me now, and why do I deserve it? --when of course I did nothing, no one hates me that didn't already, and I deserve to have a fun night out without spending the next day in a blind panic. 

In college, I wrote off my the post-drinking anxiety, because the truth is I was drinking too much, I was making an ass of myself, and people were mad at me because of the dumb shit things I had done the night before. But once I reduced my drinking to 3 - 5 drinks per week and STILL felt the next morning as if I'd irrevocably destroyed friendships and ruined lives, when in fact all I'd done was discuss the latest Marvel movie a little too enthusiastically, I realized it wasn't normal. 

By the end of October, I had dramatically reduced my drinking, a trend I planned to continue, when in November I was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication with which alcohol can interfere. That made the decision easy--not really a decision at all--and I haven't had a drink since. 

For me the not drinking part is easy as pie (I am incredibly grateful for this, and recognize that for many people this is not the case). What I struggle with is explaining to people that, at least for the foreseeable future, I don't drink anymore. 

Turning a trope on its head, I've found myself going to absurd lengths to hide my NOT drinking from others, sipping pomegranate juice in a wine glass at dinner parties or ordering a surreptitious seltzer and bitters at the bar. 

While I've told some friends, I mostly avoid the topic, primarily because I'm afraid of people's assumptions: that I'm pregnant (I'm not), that I'm an alcoholic who finally hit rock bottom (I didn't, but alcoholism does run in my family, and as I mention above, alcohol no longer works well with my body chemistry), that I'm less fun now (maybe true, but hopefully not), or that I'm judging them for drinking (absolutely 1000% definitely not). 

Those I have told know that I am on an anti-anxiety med/antidepressant that precludes me from drinking, but that for me carries its own stigma. Because while the medication is a reason I no longer drink, it is not the reason, which is that currently, I don't feel that alcohol has a place in my life. That is not to say I will never drink again, but it is also not to say that I will start drinking again as soon as I'm off the medication. 

I worry that I will be judged from two directions: by those who think I'm weak willed and only stopped drinking because I had to and by those who think I'm boring, a teetotaler, a spoilsport, for not particularly wanting to drink. In reality, I know that these fears exist only in my mind, and that in the unlikely event someone does judge me for my choice, it will be a reflection of their own insecurities surrounding drinking. Knowing does not make it any less daunting. 

Alright, I've spent quite enough time on that.

I did not: do something creative every day, read 50 books, listen to more music, do more scary stuff, or hike the pups once a week (I actually forgot I made this resolution last year when I made it again this year, which tells me I need to pay extra attention to this one this time around). 

I did: wake up on time, limit my social media time (significantly, if perhaps not quite to 15 minutes, though I did end up deleting my facebook right before the holidays), honor the budget, read 38 books, and make significant progress towards being more positive and resisting my impulse to immediately assume the worst (In my defense, I came of age in the late '90s and early aughts when cynicism was king and nothing was less cool than enthusiasm--I have a lot of unlearning to do). 

As I mentioned a few days ago, I also made some mid-year's resolutions in June, which I was more successful with implementing:

  • Stop using credit cards
  • No new clothes
  • Don't criticize or nag unless it's productive
  • No gossip
  • Look for the best in people
I was able to stop using credit cards entirely for the second half of the year. Full success.

I purchased two new items of clothing: a pair of black ballet flats, and a poncho. I convinced myself I needed both of these things, when in fact I needed neither. I do wear and enjoy them, but I could have easily lived without them. Failure.

The other three are subjective and therefore not easily measurable, but I feel that I've been successful. I have made a concerted effort to stop criticizing and judging others and to look for the best in them, which has naturally caused me to stop engaging in gossip. Whereas before, I was eager to vent about the things others did that I found annoying, once I stopped focusing on others and began focusing on self-improvement, I found that I had little left to vent about. I am far from perfect--this is the type of resolution that is never "done," but one that requires lifelong work--but in my entirely biased and subjective opinion, I think I've made great progress. 

All in all, the fact that I accomplished any of my resolutions without accruing any new bad habits makes the year a net success, which is what I love about resolutions: if you fail, you're no worse off for having tried, and if you succeed even a little bit, you've improved. Win-win! 


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