What Being Sober for 2 Years Feels Like

May Third

May 3rd marks 2 years of sobriety for me. I haven’t had a drink or a smoke in this time. I want to celebrate the accomplishment by speaking about the experience.

Ups And Downs

When I first began, every month was a new milestone. My motivation grew as I completed the goals I set for myself. But with more time under my belt. I’ve realized that my willpower levels don’t correspond to my clean time. My resolve ebbs and flows. So on days like today, I make it part of my identity. I embrace it. And then on days when I’m unsure, I embrace the uncertainty. Who knows where my journey will take me? It’s acceptable for sobriety to be a vague answer to an undefined problem. Experience has taught me, there’s usually something to motivate me just around the corner.

Boredom

When I first quit drinking, I was too scared to set foot in a bar. Eventually, I could comfortably go to a bar and not be tempted to drink. I was pretty pleased with myself. But now, going downtown simply isn’t fun. If there’s dancing or pool tables, I can make do. But in most cases, I end up feeling like a dud. There’s no perfect replacement activity for partying. Instead, I’m constantly picking up new activities. Yoga, electronics, writing this blog, learning new songs. Staying busy is important. Even if I drop hobbies as quickly as I pick them up, at least I’m keeping my life juicy. It’s a solution for the time being.

Community

The best part of sobriety is the new friends I’ve made. Turns out, my hometown has an active local recovery community. Having a support network to fall back on makes life much simpler. A lot of my worries about relapse were solved when I learned how to ask for help. I never acquired this skill in school. Looking back, my internships during college would have gone a lot smoother if I had been open to accepting help. I’ve realized asking for help can help others too. Everyone likes to feel useful, and I’m happy to provide that use.

Quitting drugs and alcohol has allowed me to move towards my goals. This morning, I finished my final for Operating Systems, after failing that same class 4 years ago. I can’t thank my friends and family enough. Thanks for sticking with me and thanks for listening to what I have to say!

My Future in California

Winter Bird Festival

I visited California to see my grandparents. The trip also took me to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Seeing so many college students walking to class, I thought I might feel a sense of longing.

Instead I felt calm. Meeting with my ex-professors,  I thought they would have questions about why I left school. In reality, their questions were focused on my vacation. I excitedly explained my new plans to return.

I would take a couple classes back in Illinois. Then, at the end of the year, I would move back to California to finish my last class along with my senior project.

I told my plan to as many people as possible. Friends and family, advisers and professors, ex-coworkers and boss. One listener responded with a unique piece of advice:

“Don’t live in the wreckage of your future”.

I already understand not living in the wreckage of my past. Dropping out has transformed from a negative experience into a humbling one. Moving forward has become more important.

Which is why the advice surprised me. Could my intense focus on the future be harmful? I thought back to when I enrolled in a track to get a Master’s degree. When my plans fell through, I ended up falling down with them. I didn’t even earn my Bachelor’s.

For me, this advice is about not clinging too hard to a set path.  I ought to reconcile with the uncertainty of life. I might not end up in California in 2017. I might not get my degree before my 10 year school reunion.

I tried to internalize the advice and spent the rest of my trip in the present. Hiking up the hills, running down the beach, and visiting all the tourist shops. I ate good food with friends and family, and celebrated my 27th birthday, one of my most memorable yet.

Grandparents' House

Trek

Friends from Urbana

Winter Bird Festival

Birthday Dessert