This is a composite picture of 20 photos I’ve taken over my past 20 days of living sober.
Before my YOLS I used to think those photo-a-day journals were kind of cutesy but not for me. I get the whole, ‘check out the change over time’ vibe (they call it time-lapse, Ben) but it also strikes me as reeking of vanity.
I mean really.
What’s the point in taking photographs of yourself?
Isn’t it a bit vain to pose in front of a camera YOU control (by clicking on your mouse) and take a self-portrait nobody has requested? Couldn’t it be considered narcissistic to then publicly share those snaps with the world at large via social media? (Hold on, isn’t that Facebook?)
And surely it’s even more self-indulgent/obsessed to do that day after day, for weeks—nay, months—on end. Only some self-loving twat would think such an exercise in “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” would be entertaining enough to others to do such a thing. Right?
But that’s exactly what I’m doing. Every day for the past 20 days I’ve sat down in front of my computer camera and taken a self-portrait pic which I’ve then Tweeted (@YearOffBooze).
And I’m going to do it for another 80 days too.
Yes, I admit it.
I am a “Look at me! Look at me! Look At Me Sitting In Front of My Computer Guy”.
And don’t the world need more of THEM?
But maybe some people will see this soberday count-off how I do: as simply a bit of fun.
Struggling for Fun?
One of the things I have sometimes struggled with over this year of living sober (today is Day 288 of 365 self-imposed sober days in a row) is keeping it fun.
But, and even without alcohol to kick off my ‘just for fun’ impulse, during my YOLS I’ve become more aware of a little part of me which seems to like nothing more than coming up with new ways to enliven and document this social experiment of one big drinker taking a big break.
Yesterday I made a 3D paper cube (which, though still in development, I’ve called the YOLS Quote Cube—because it has pro-sobriety quotes on each side), today I photoshopped this 20 Days of Living Sober picture, and way back near the beginning of my whole YOLS adventure I came up with the YOLS calendar, for marking off each soberday.
See? I’m very creative lately. I’m even inventing words these days (soberday is all mine!). It seems my sobriety has unleashed my inner Mr bloody Maker (I think that’s the name of the guy my two-year-old watches conjure working washing-machines out of clothes pegs and blue-tac on the telly?).
Alcohol does lots of things but one thing it can often do for you, or at least it did for me, is make you do things you normally wouldn’t do: act crazy, lighten up—that kind of thing. But who would have thought refraining from alcohol for less than one year would turn me into this crafty, social media crazy, Pinterest-aware daddy-blogger I’ve become.
Without alcohol as an excuse, or as a distraction at the end of the day, I have found myself getting crafty, and pushing against what I used to consider cool (or NOT cool) and doing things I have never done before. Just for fun.
Like a photo-a-day journal.
Going for my year of living sober has helped me embrace doing things I’ve never done before, and doing those things with complete consciousness. That means I’ve been more aware of my internal opposition to putting myself out there: I always thought I didn’t care what people think, but it turns out I probably did.
Way too much.
Sure, as a singer-songwriter I’ve gotten used to ignoring the odd heckler at a gig, and as a novelist I am learning to let go of the impossible dream of pleasing every reader, everywhere, but since starting this YOLS, and doing this YOLS blog, I have found out how much I don’t like being criticised.
I hate it. I am not good with NOT being liked.
But I’m willing to change. I am willing to do things I KNOW not everyone will like; I am willing to try—and say—things without worrying what so-and-so might think or whether I’ll get some nasty blog comment—or worse, be ignored.
So, to answer that question of what’s the point in taking photos of myself every day for 100 days, I guess there’s at least two good reasons why: to have a bit of fun, and to share what I think has been (and still is) a healthy exercise in making a positive life change.
In the final countdown to my FADFOY (First Alcoholic Drink For One Year) I hope to make a statement for myself and for anyone else who might be thinking about putting themselves out there by making a change not everyone will appreciate them making:
Here I am.
Sober for a year; one day a time.
Little Booze Joke
Two pieces of string walk into a bar. The first string sits at the bar and orders a beer but the bartender shakes his head and says, “Sorry, guy, we don’t serve string here.” The other string, taking note of the bartender’s refusal to serve his friend, curls up on his stool, twists in and around himself, and messes his string hair. “Give me TWO beers then,” said the second string. “Now why would I do that?” says the bartender smugly. “You’re a string too aren’t you?” To which second string replies, “No. I’m a frayed knot.”