Spoiler alert, I learnt that not only could I stay sober for a month but I could also have fun too! It was not only good for my physical health but also my own growth and confidence.
For the month of October I set myself a challenge. Aptly dubbed Sober October I decided for a full 31 days I was going to abstain from any alcoholic beverages. I don't have an issue with alcohol, I don't drink often, it's really only a glass or two during a nice dinner or a few ciders or vodka at an event. I was confident I could go without alcohol for the 31 days in fact the challenge really wasn't about me not drinking, but more a social challenge.
Through a podcast, I was introduced to Maz Compton and her book 'The Social Rebellion'. During this interview a few phrases really stuck out, ones that I felt I could really relate to. Phrases like, "Come on you have to", "You're no fun," or "You've changed". Over the years I have received these comments from friends and family. I don't think the intent was ever to hurt my feelings but more to persuade me to drink with them, and in many cases it worked. Ahh... social pressure at its finest. One of my bigger weaknesses is that I care a lot about how people see me and the impression I give others. I really want to be liked by everyone and I can get quite stressed and anxious when I know that someone may not like me. Taking on this challenge was more for my own mind, will power and strength to stand up for myself in social situations. Really I wanted to start teaching myself to stick to my guns, if I believe something is really important I need to stand by it no matter what others think.
Remember why you started and why you think it is important
To my surprise when I told others I was going to take on this no drinking challenge, no one cared. I thought for sure that when I went out with friends or sat down to dinner with my family that someone would bring up the fact that I wasn't drinking. Every time I explained that I wasn't drinking because I was committed to 31 days without alcohol I expected at least one person to question why. I even had a list of reasons why prepared and ready to launch at them. I thought it was odd that no one mentioned it, not even when my partner and I met some of his navy friends at the races. We dressed up, had lunch, put bets on horses, ultimately lost all of the bets but never once went to the bar for a drink. I was certain they would say something but no one cared at all.
At first I was confused. I wasn't conforming to the social norms of the situations. I was breaking all of the rules I thought were standard, not only to have fun but to create interest and friends. In the few cases I had friends ask me if I wanted a drink, after explaining I was embarking on sober October they simply nodded and poured themselves a glass. I was truly gobsmacked and started to realise that maybe I was the one with the odd social perception, not them.
It has taken me some time to reflect but I think I understand now. Not only do I have really great and super supportive friends but also everyone has their own concerns in life. Concerns that don't leave much room to ruminate over each decision I make. I can stop worrying so much about how people may perceive me and focus a little more on my desires and passions. In the past I have given into social pressures and followed the crowd, I have let loose comments about my interests affect me more than they should and have given up opportunities because I was scared what people may think of me.
Sober October has taught me that I can still have fun while sober, I can go to events and dinners and not need to feel forced to drink just to fit in and I have learnt that if you surround yourself with the right people, they wont care and will even support you. Big shocker I know, but sometimes you just need to prove it for yourself. I still have a level of worry when it comes to being liked and accepted. I still aim to please and probably will for the rest of my life but at least now with this knowledge I can start to believe in myself a little more. I can stand by my ambition and not be afraid to reach for new opportunities, support my own health and share these experiences with others.
I hope there was some value in this post for you. If it wasn't clear, I would encourage you to put your own values and health first, you may be pleasantly surprised when you realise that people want you to succeed. If they don't well maybe they aren't the best people for you to surround yourself with anyway.