Alcohol free me - going dry for human rights
Julia Hardy is giving up alcohol for a year and has already raised over £1,200 for us - thank you, Julia! Find out why she chose Amnesty and what she plans to do to keep up her year-long challenge.
The number one question you get asked when you don’t drink is “why?”, shortly followed by “Oh god, are you pregnant?”
For me there were a few reasons that made me choose to give up drinking for a year. The main one was that I wanted to do something for charity. Something big.
I know a lot of people do bungee jumps or climb mountains, but whilst these are all impressive and up to the eyeballs in crap-your-pants-but-push-through-‘challengability’, I was searching for something that clicked with me. I wanted something that would challenge the very nature of who I am. Something that no-one would think I could do, so that I could feel unbelievably smug at the end of the year having accomplished it.
I think it’d be wise to give a bit of background to my life, just to establish - I LIKE DRINKING. I’m not one of these couple of beers on the weekend part-time ‘drinkers’. I like a drink! It’s always been my go-to life problem solver (also problem creator probably). And like every good citizen of the British Isles, my entire social life is centred around it.
Even my work life is centred on alcohol. I work in the video games industry on the journalism/presenting side and it’s a pretty boozy world, with a lot of free bars, which makes it even harder to say no. After all, who doesn't love a free mojito!
So, me and drinking. It seemed like the most obvious/scary thing to give up. When I decided to do it I broke out in a clammy sweat. I was making excuses like ‘but February is my birthday so I should be allowed to drink then’. Yep. I couldn’t imagine my life without it and didn’t want to. The weird thing was that instead of it making me back out or try to think of something else to do, it made me want to do it all the more. I guess I just freaked out at the realisation that something had such a hold over me. And I didn’t like that feeling.
When I thought about sober Julia the panic soon set in…Who is that Julia? Will I have any friends? What if every conversation from now on is like talking to a tired John Major discussing a dream he had about the weather?
But once the panic was over, I like the fact that I’m reducing my freedom to help promote others’. It feels right. Aung San Suu Kyi is such an inspiration to me and I figure after all she has given up in her life to fight for human rights, I’ll be damned if I’m not going to give up drinking for a year.
Of course, it’s all relative and my hardship doesn’t compare. I know it’ll be a tricky year, but I’m feeling positive that I can achieve what I have set out to do. And with my money raised just clocking over a grand so far I don’t want to let anyone down.
So why Amnesty? Well a little-known fact about me is that I used to live with Burmese refugees in Northern Thailand. A strange little village called Huay Pu Keng near Mae Hon Song. I was won over by the people and their social eating rather than social drinking. One of the Burmese phrases for ‘How are you’ is literally ‘Have you eaten rice yet?’ Genius.
I spent a lot of my time there getting to know about the Burmese plight, and their culture. After seeing and hearing about human rights violations first hand, I have always wanted to help. So I decided to raise money for Amnesty. You often forget how lucky we are that anyone hears us. Imagine if no-one cared at all, never listened to you, or is in fact disgusted that you dared voice your opinion at them? What if every time you tweeted a company or a politician with your views you could be thrown in prison? Or beaten? I don’t think we can really comprehend what being ignored is like, that feeling of complete hopelessness that you’re nothing. But Amnesty can help change that!
I’ve been vlogging each week to try and keep the momentum going over the year, I’ve got some fun ideas for additional money raising, which is helping me focus and remember why I’m doing it. Please feel free to follow the journey at www.youtube.com/itsjuliahardy or to donate at www.justgiving.com/itsjuliahardy. Or start your own challenge...
And cheers! Here’s to a year of being able to drive anywhere anytime, having so much coffee I will be able to see through time and getting some great friendship blackmail material!
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.