A Year Without Alcohol
By Karolina Rzadkowolska
It’s the year I launched a business. The year I started a blog. The year I ran a half marathon. The year I made inspiring new friends and connected in deep meaningful ways with loved ones. The year I co-launched a podcast. The year I gained my self-esteem back and challenged my self-limiting beliefs. The year I let go of society's expectations to be normal and fit in. The year I started living for me. The year I found the most profound joy and euphoria. The year I found meaning and my life's purpose. Otherwise known as the year I quit drinking.
But you know what? I was thinking long and hard about this milestone. And I realize my excitement at achieving it has little to do with the action of quitting, or the non-action of not drinking. Alcohol barely crosses my mind. I mean, that sounds crazy right, here I have a whole blog and show about how much better life is without alcohol, but for me it hinges on the better-life part. Not the not-drinking part. Changing how I view alcohol in the first place, from something to be desired that brings me benefits to something that is kinda lame and slows my life down, was a huge transformation in thinking for me. I had to unpack and deconstruct why I thought I liked to drink in the first place. I read books like This Naked Mind, Alcohol Explained, and the Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. I was inspired to keep going by the very sight of others reaching 365 days. But that happened many months ago. Months ago I decided not to go back to playing small in my own life, and let a beverage dictate how I felt about myself. Months ago I decided I want more of a life I've never lived, and have since then done the actions to get there . . . started a blog, business, podcast, etc.
So what do I celebrate today? Because it’s not exactly the non-act of not drinking. It's something far deeper, far more transformational. It’s celebrating the fact that I don’t stare wistfully from the sidelines of my own life anymore. I am working hard to be the star in it. It's not easy, and I feel like an imposter quite often, but I'm done with the stalling and purposelessness. I’ve already had 12 years of that.
Often times, we hear about people giving up alcohol and living in this purgatory in the early years. Life is better when you’re not in an active addiction, granted, so it’s not quite hell anymore. But it isn’t really heaven either. The deprivation, the sadness of being different, the lackluster feeling of being bored, left out, and “marked” holds so many people back in a struggle for self-worth.
Because the art of transformation doesn’t end with quitting drinking. It's the start, it’s the catalyst, it’s the foundation to lay any other changes on top of that, but I would be kidding myself to say that it’s the magic button to fulfillment. It’s not that easy, life is complex, and to change your life, you have to change everything. Yes, your habits, but also your thinking, your subconscious beliefs, your reactions, your inner dialogue, your level of empathy, and the greater belief that yes, you can go after what you really want in this life.
I work on that every day. I have far more progress than I've ever had, but I continue to work on that every day. I'm committed to showing up, and not numbing out, and never being dishonest with myself again. I used to believe that it was painful to desire something that seems so unattainable, that it was too scary to let yourself desire something so different than what your current level of courage and strength would allow you to do. But in reality, it’s far more painful to settle for mediocrity and let the feelings of wasted potential eat away at you, as you throw excuse after excuse on why you can’t, why you shouldn’t, or why it isn’t possible. It’s not easy to go after your dreams, and welcomes in criticism, vulnerability, disappointment and unrest, but it also welcomes in pride, confidence, courage, patience, love, fulfillment, and spiritual growth.
So today I celebrate going after my dream life. Today I celebrate being a star.