I can’t seem to say ‘no’ to alcohol without fear of negative response. I’m a little worried about myself.
I guess it’s come up because Christmas and New Year are generally times where we, in the UK, drink an awful lot. There are parties and celebrations and lots of “go on, since it’s Christmas”.
I don’t drink a lot. Honestly, if someone told me today that I could never have alcohol again, it wouldn’t even register. I wouldn’t care.
I don’t mind the odd glass of wine with a meal, and I’ll happily go to the pub for a few hours and have a G&T. I have had a lot of fun being drunk.
But, right now, I’m not enjoying the hours and hours of drinking.
I don’t find it fun, and I don’t like the effect it has on my body so, really, I don’t want to do it anymore.
However, putting that into practice is a different matter.
I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person to speak up when something makes me uncomfortable. But, the fact is, peer pressure is a real thing and, yes, I admit, I succumb to it.
Just to be clear, I don’t think I have a problem with the amount or frequency that I drink. It’s more the fact that I feel like I have to drink, to go along with what other people want.
If I’m out, I’m out for the social aspect – the crack, the dancing – not the drinks.
I was talking to an old friend the other day about how we would drink silly amounts every weekend. I explained that I don’t like to drink as much, and it was just not acceptable to them.
It was like they thought I couldn’t possibly have a good time unless I was knocking them back every 20 minutes.
There’s this pressure I feel, and it has a voice. Sometimes it’s my voice, sometimes it’s the voice of the people around me:
You will drink so that you can have a good time. You will not make others feel awkward by drinking slowly. Other people might think you’re not having a good time.
On another occasion, my friend’s parents were looking after her 2 kids for the night, and she wanted to have a night out.
I felt bad because she was really looking forward to it, and her expectation of the night was that we’d get very drunk, and I wasn’t doing that because I was trying not to be a complete write-off for the next day.
Even as I write this I’m worried I’ll come across as boring because our culture is one that values drinking a lot.
We think it’s funny what people do when they’re drunk; the ability to ‘handle’ copious amounts of alcohol is an admirable trait, whereas being a ‘lightweight’ is not.
We even like being fucked up the next day. The success of a night out is measured by how bad the hangover is. Like, “I can’t move without throwing up….such a good night!”
I don’t consider myself boring. I just don’t need alcohol to have a good time, and I understand that’s really difficult for people to get on board with.
I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, I undoubtedly will, and I’ll enjoy it on occasion.
I will enjoy alcohol, but it must be on my terms.
I just need to find a good way to explain that to people without making them feel awkward.
And I know, it isn’t about them and I shouldn’t do things I don’t want to make others happy.
That’s the concerning part, is that I do that.
I wish I could write this post and tell you how to avoid, or deal with, this situation, because it isn’t unique. But I don’t have everything figured out.
As much as I’m a positive person, I will not pretend that sometimes I don’t know what to do. There are tricky social situations which I don’t yet know how to navigate.
Yes, I’m an adult, but I’m not a perfect one. Some people might find it hypocritical of me to reinforce to others the importance of consent, and knowing your own mind, and walking away if you feel uncomfortable.
But I also know that not everything can be solved with a can-do, click-your-fingers attitude.
Sometimes, you just have to acknowledge that you’re not behaving or thinking as you would like, and just try your best to change that.
It isn’t always a case of removing ‘toxic people’ from your life, which is kind of the go-to advice atm.
These people are often my friends and family, all of whom love me and wouldn’t want me to feel this way.
However, a lot of people find it hard to believe that you can have a good time without alcohol, and I can actually feel the entire atmosphere go down when I say I won’t be drinking.
People aren’t sure how to act around you. In short, it makes them feel awkward.
A lot of people need it as a social catalyst, and a lot of people love the feeling of being drunk with their friends.
So, I’m going to adopt a mantra that has served me fairly well in other situations:
Good for them, not for me.
If you’re reading this, and it resonates, I want you to know that, of course, you are not boring because you don’t want to get drunk.
You are not weird because you don’t like alcohol.
It’s fine if you’re cautious, and it’s fine if your attitude toward alcohol changes.
Don’t beat yourself up for not being as strong-willed as you think you should be. Just acknowledge it, then work on it. And, most importantly, make sure you are always being safe.
I’d love to hear from you if this resonated at all, or if you have a different opinion. Please do leave me a comment below.