Alcohol, peer pressure, and being imperfect

Posted in Mental Health, Physical Health, Wellbeing
on January 7, 2018
Alcohol, peer pressure & being imperfect

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.

 

If you are concerned about your own relationship with alcohol, or are concerned for someone you know, please find more information here

#Smearforsmear cervical cancer prevention week

12 Comments

  • Nikko

    In my case, i will enjoy but it is always on my friend term. Interesting article.

    January 10, 2018 at 07:30 Reply
    • North

      Thanks for reading!

      January 12, 2018 at 10:01 Reply
  • Elizabeth Seal

    I loved this so much, it summed up a lot of what I’ve felt as a young adult as I don’t like drinking and find myself excluded from society of people my age as a result >< it sucks but I don't want to change who I am! Such a great article, I love your blog! xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara
    (I would love to follow each other on bloglovin if you like! :D)

    January 10, 2018 at 17:42 Reply
    • North

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, I’m really glad you liked the post!
      It can feel quite alienating can’t it? Being the only one who doesn’t want to drink.

      I had a little look at your blog and it is beautiful! So well put together! xx

      January 10, 2018 at 20:03 Reply
  • Josie

    I think this is a really great and honest post! I feel exactly the same sometimes! Some people are so set on ‘alcohol’ and lots of it and I feel really judged sometimes when I say I don’t really want any!

    I think sticking to you and what you’re comfortable with is definitely the best way and I understand that it’s not always black and white in social situations like that – especially when you’re people pleasers like us and don’t want to make anyone else feel annoyed/uncomfortable! Just keep staying true to you – maybe just drop hints now and then that you’re not a big fan of that much alcohol and then when it comes to the social occasion they won’t be so shocked? (that’s what I try and do!)

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

    January 11, 2018 at 12:12 Reply
    • North

      Oh thank you so much for reading and commenting Josie! It means an awful lot.

      I think you’re exactly right about how it can make you feel judged when you don’t really want to drink. I think so many people’s idea of fun is centred around alcohol and it’s hard for some to understand that it isn’t needed to have a good time.

      And you’re definitely right about being a people pleaser – that’s pretty much what it is that’s tripping me up, I think! You’ve given us all a good tip. though, about dropping hints in the build up to an occasion, so thank you for that.

      Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment x

      January 12, 2018 at 12:12 Reply
  • Laura

    I have a love / hate relationship with alcohol. In that I love it, but I hate when I drink too much of it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop drinking it because I find it tasty but also a good way to relax. But I’m never one to go out and get wasted. If I wake up with a hangover and I can’t do anything it just feels like a wasted day. You’ve gotta find your happy medium! Know your limits and be happy when you’ve hit them – I’m never ashamed of being the first person to leave on the night, because at least it means I’ll get to enjoy the next day. x

    January 11, 2018 at 15:27 Reply
    • North

      Ahh thank you for reading my lovely!

      Yeah, I think that’s what it is as well….if I could drink and not feel like shit after a few hours, and then write off the next day, I think I’d be a lot more fine with the whole British “let’s get hammered” thing.

      I’m very aware of how I feel when I drink and when I’ve had enough, it’s just getting other people to be OK with that. I guess I’ll just be an unashamed half-arsed drinker and hope they still invite me to stuff haha!

      Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to splitting a bottle of wine with my friend when we go out for dinner, or spending an afternoon in a beer garden on our 1 sunny day a year! So, I do like the stuff, sometimes.

      I’m glad you’ve got a good attitude towards it, you healthy thing, you 😛

      xx

      January 12, 2018 at 12:18 Reply
  • Katie

    So much love for this post! I’ve been feeling the exact same way over the last year or so. I find the drinking culture in the UK quite harmful as the whole reasoning behind drinking seems to be to get leathered, rather than to enjoy the drink or the social aspect of it.
    I work at sea and so there’s also this assumption and expectation that, as a sailor, I should love a drink and should be able to drink everyone under the table. This was true back in college, but not now. I don’t like how it makes me feel at the time, and I hate when the next morning is a write off.
    I usually go out with the intention of having only one or maybe two drinks and buy only one myself, but then other people buy me drinks, or decide to do rounds and I find it so difficult to turn them down on those occasions.
    Anyway, thank you for this post and articulating many of my own feelings on it!

    January 11, 2018 at 15:37 Reply
    • North

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, Katie! It’s very much appreciated.

      And it’s lovely to hear from someone who feels the same way, but I am sorry you’re feeling this too! It’s such a tricky one sometimes.

      I think that’s exactly the right attitude – to go out for the social aspect. I think so many people’s idea of socialising centres around alcohol that it’s tough for them to see how possible it is to have a really good time without it.

      I can imagine you get a lot of assumption thrown your way about being a sailor, that must be so frustrating for you! I really wish I had some decent advice on how to deal with it, but I think it’s a good thing to acknowledge it, at least. In the meantime, I’m just trying to work through it and find a good way of communicating to people how I feel.

      Thank you again for taking the time to comment x

      January 12, 2018 at 12:24 Reply
  • Merkitty

    I don’t drink and I have refused to pretty much my entire adult life.. and this isn’t because I don’t like alcohol, it’s just a personal choice that I don’t wish to do that to myself. I don’t think people understand when they say to me, “Oh go on, just have one..” that my brain doesn’t work like that. I have a very much all or nothing personality.. an addictive personality. I choose to not drink at all, no matter the social pressure because I don’t like what it does to me.. I can’t simple enjoy one glass.. and because of this, I said no more. I wasn’t going to cave in no matter what and I had to do this for my own health.. and many people don’t get it or understand and I don’t expect them to. I just wish people would leave me alone when I say no. It is really hard when we are a country that seems to drink a lot and people find me super boring because I don’t drink, smoke or anything now. I used to, in the past I did everything to excess. As a teenager I was very wild and I feel I’ve mellowed out in my old age and now I stand firm and say no to those things. I take medication, so fortunately when people pressure me I just say that I can’t because I am on tablets.. and that’s true, you’re not supposed to drink with the ones I am on. Luckily, when I say this people leave me alone. I feel like people think I’m really boring and that’s fine.. I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. I know it gives me confidence, but I think I’d rather find confidence the real way.. and hopefully one day I find that. Oh goodness, sorry for the ramble.

    January 25, 2018 at 13:13 Reply
    • North

      Don’t apologise – I love a good ramble. Thank you very much for commenting and sharing your personal view on this.

      I think it’s really great that you’ve been able to realise that you weren’t doing your health any favours and stopped yourself. A lot of people couldn’t do that. And you’re right, people do seem to find it difficult to understand why you’re saying no, unless you’ve got what they would think is a ‘legitimate’ reason like being on medication.
      I just drive most places now, so I can avoid all that!

      I think I’m probably quite similar, I drank and went out a lot when I was younger so, now that I’m a little older and more concerned with my health, the idea of massive drinking sessions just doesn’t appeal.

      Thank you again for sharing your story – I love a good chat about things like this. Hope you’re well lovely x

      January 26, 2018 at 08:20 Reply

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