Hey, guess what? It’s Sunday, and I’m writing my weekly roundup post and I am NOT HUNGOVER! Why, you ask? Because I’m going Sober for October. I’m only focusing on one thing this week as it’s a bit of a heavier topic. But on a side note before diving in, I’ve updated my blog a little bit. There’s new sections and it’s a bit smoother to find your favourite things. All of these weekly roundups can be found on “weekly column” section on the homepage. All of my #relatable girl talk posts on things like dealing with fuckboys, dating in London, trying to be the “cool girl” in relationships, and basically navigating modern life as a 20-something female can be found in the Girl Talk tab. And basically everything else you can find under lifestyle and everything.
SOBER OCTOBER and what I realised about my relationship with alcohol
At the end of last week, I was approached by a PR company asking if I wanted to partner with Appletiser, the official sponsor of Go Sober for October, to commit to a month of no drinking and raise money for Macmillan cancer support. To be totally transparent: yes, I am being paid by Appletiser to promote my journey during the month via Instagram, but all money I raise on my page is going to charity PLEASE DONATE HERE!) It seemed like a total win-win: I’m raising money for charity, I’m earning money myself with a drinks brand I legitimately love, and I’m being healthier for a month because no booze allowed.
Although… what about my social life? When the girls on the PR team organising this said to me “just to be super clear, you’re not allowed to drink any alcohol for a month?” it hit me of “oh shit, yeah”. To be honest, at first I thought maybe I could get away with a sneaky drink here and there – nobody has to know right? This is definitely a mocktail Susan! No vodka here! Wink wink… And I’m still raising money for charity? But then of course my moral compass came and snapped me right back on track and I felt riddled with guilt for even thinking I could deceive people like that. Plus, I’m not a quitter. A month without alcohol is easy. I’ve never been the person to come home from work and pour a glass of wine to relax with in front of the TV. Or have a glass of something at lunch. It sounds bad, but I drink for effect. I drink to get drunk. To loosen up and dance a little wilder. To forget any inhibitions or anything holding me back. And the thought of facing house parties in my diary and work dinners this month without the social lubricant that is booze made me feel… well… anxious.
It’s had me re-evaluating my relationship with alcohol and the role it plays in my life. I’ll be straight: I hate drunk people when I’m sober. They’re so loud and annoying. I hate dancing when I’m sober – I’m hyper aware of the way my body moves and how terrible I am. Most drinking situations for me happen at night – I get tired and hungry without alcohol. I get bored and want to go home and watch Netflix. Since I started drinking occasionally in parks and house parties as a teenager, and in clubs when I was 18, I’ve always drank for confidence – or what I perceived as confidence, up until now.
A little secret about me: despite being a pretty confident person now when it comes to all social situations, I actually suffered quite a lot from social anxiety when I was in secondary school. If I was invited to parties at the local village hall for someone’s birthdays (ah, small-town memories) I’d sit in the car and almost be sick before going in because I was so nervous. On one occasion I almost threw up out of the side of my mum’s car and made her drive me (and my friend who I brought as a +1) home because I couldn’t face going in. I thought this social anxiety disappeared as I got older, but I’m not sure if it has done completely. When I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt a level of social anxiety or a bit of social discomfort (nothing on the level I used to, as I have definitely grafted the confidence scale in the past 13 years) I’ve just drank to erase it. Perhaps it’s my worries about people liking me, or people finding me fun enough, or maybe it’s just to fit in? I’m not sure. But drinking always felt as if I was gaining confidence, but actually, I think the alcohol just made my worries about myself and not being liked disappear. I just wouldn’t care as much. Everyone else would always be drinking in these situations to so it was fine, and easy to mask. In fact, I kind of wonder how many other people were relying on this liquid confidence to give them a boost too?
Alcohol can be fun. I love that tipsy feeling you get when you drink it and how it can make you feel sexy, confident and have 1000x better rhythm on the dance floor. But I am worried I’ve begun to use it as a crutch in social situations, rather than relying on my actual personality. And I guess it’s concerning, perhaps just a bit, about how little I value myself as a sober person in social situations. Why do I feel like I have to have alcohol to be fun or for others to enjoy my company? I don’t even enjoy drinking alcohol very much. I hate the taste of beer, cider, rose, gin, tequila, and most other spirits. But social situations see me downing drinks I don’t necessarily even enjoy that much so just so that I can get drunker quicker and enjoy that event quicker instead. But why can’t I enjoy it when I’m sober? Does that say something about myself, or the social events I choose to participate in? I’m not too sure, but I guess this month I’ll find out. So this month of being sober is becoming more of a challenge: it’s not just about giving up alcohol for a month, it’s about learning more about myself and how I deal in social situations.
Anyway, this week I went for dinners where I’d usually hit up the wine list and cocktail menu. I went on a date and drank pineapple juice whilst he had wine. And I stayed in both nights on the weekend. The difference? Well, I saved a lot of money at these dinners and didn’t feel like I missed out on a thing by not drinking. I left the date realising that the chemistry there existed because we actually get on, rather than alcohol blurring my judgement making me think I fancy him and having the awkward realisation the next day that I don’t. And I’ve felt super fresh all weekend and I’ve not had to spend the morning unpicking my night, deleting all of the drunk Instagram stories I uploaded which no longer seem quite so funny, and eating a leftover kebab.
So here’s to a month sober – and if you would like to donate to me, I have already reached my target of £200, but I’d love to try and double it and I’ll probably end up donating much more myself. Macmillan are an amazing charity that do so much to support those with cancer. With pretty scary statistics of 1 in 2 of the UK population being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it’s something that really does affect all of us, be it directly or indirectly. So please head to my page to donate – even if it is just a couple of pounds!
Jumper – Zara (it’s so itchy don’t even buy it), skirt – Topshop, Shoes – last year Ego, tights – Calzedonia.
Photography by Bethany Elstone.