Alcohol oils the gears to allow this fear to fade away, and I hate it. I want that oil without losing some awareness, or feeling like an exhausted mess the next day. (Image: Shutterstock)
I've loved getting drunk ever since I became of legal boozing age, not vomit-drunk or even knock-over-mum's-vintage-lamp-drunk, but that fun and hyperactive drunk where everyone is your best friend and suddenly-The-Cha-Cha-Slide-is-the-most-amazing-song-ever-written-drunk.
I always adored going to house parties and bars with my friends, feeling indestructible and ever so confident. It was awesome meeting new friends without that gut wrenching shyness that usually followed me around while I was sober. It was incredible dancing the most ridiculous dances without fear of looking silly, and feeling that light-headed woosh of freedom while disco lights flashed. It was all so much fun.
Well the truth is, I did love those things, but I just can't any more; in fact, I kind of hate it all now.
Nothing dramatic happened to me to make me feel this way about intoxication; I didn't get a DUI, and I didn't get rushed to the hospital with a stomach pump at the ready... I just started to hate how much of that fun I'd forget the next day, and how that extroverted and extremely brave person I became needed alcohol to even exist in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, my disdain isn't with the alcohol itself, or with those who drink it, it's me.
The problem isn't so much that I become a different person, it's that when I wake up the next day I go back to being a painfully shy hermit who rarely goes outside by herself, and is often crippled by anxiety and solitude: something I lack while drunk.
The odd thing is that when I get drunk, I don't actually drink a lot — much to the hilarity of many people I know — because I'm pretty much a goner after one mixer or two. So my liver is fine, but the physical isn't the problem. The problem is the sheer burst of negativity that hits me as soon as I wake up from an awesome night out. I'll walk you through a day in the life of a drunken Stephie right now.
I walk into the party, shy smiles and hugs, an awkward "How are you?" here, and a "Yep, I'm still a writer" there. I stay close to my boyfriend and we chat in between listening to people chat to us. I drink, I ease up, I bob my head to the music, drink, things get funnier. I drink, someone asks me to dance, I chug the last of my drink and go with them. The rest of the night is a fun blur of silly dancing, drunkenly gasping at coincidences in the conversation, and me telling myself that I only need to change my perspective in order to have this much fun at any other time.
But I'm forgetting something, the alcohol is the catalyst to this confidence.
I'm in no way saying that I, or anyone, can only have pure confidence with booze (or that there's something wrong with getting it that way) but it sure as heck does not come naturally for me. I'm a neurodivergent introvert who hasn't had the best track record with friendships, so yeah the party floor scares me because if I say one weird or boring thing to a potential new or old friend then in my eyes there goes my chance at ever being able to socialize properly. Alcohol oils the gears to allow this fear to fade away, and I hate it. I want that oil without losing some awareness, or feeling like an exhausted mess the next day.
It's not just the social confidence that I gain from inebriation, I get a horrible case of the YOLO's too. And I don't mean I suddenly rip my clothes off to start skinny dipping, or pull up my eBay app to buy a $5,000 dress, I get really YOLO. Literally, I tell myself "life is too short and that I have to start really living." Which is true, but I resent the idea that it always takes a few vodkas for me to tell myself this.
Somewhere between downing my third screwdriver and twirling around in circles to the tune of Superbass, I've already given myself around 10 pep talks and made around 15 unrealistic promises to myself: such as waking up early and heading to the library to make a random friend, or that I'll start saving for a trip to a far away land I probably can't even afford. It's great at the time, it's a release, I feel able to do it all, I feel like I've been released from a cage…
I'm working on being that confident person sober. I may not be able to magically become an extrovert, or cure my anxiety, but I can try to get out there more, take baby steps and maybe meet some friends just as shy and awkward as me.
Then I wake up the next day, my introversion is back, my need to stay indoors is back, and my bank balance looks the same. I warily ask a local friend on FB messenger how they are, and we chat for a good minute or two before the conversation goes nowhere. Drunken Stephie is well and truly dead for the next few weeks, and so is confident Stephie. It's just that none of that positivity really feels real when I wake up, and part of me thinks that I know fine well that its fleeting, so I milk it for all it's worth.
I met someone in a club restroom one night a few weeks ago, in a deliberate attempt to make friends. All the girls were chatting away drunkenly and taking selfies and dammit why shouldn't I get the chance to do that too? I offered a girl gum and suddenly we were the ones taking selfies and laughing about nothing, we chatted about the courses we were doing, and had done in the past, and it felt really natural.
I had left my comfort zone to find something even more comfortable and it was really fun. She told me to add myself on her Instagram app, so I keyed in my username and clicked add. And when it was time to go back into the bar to meet our other friends she said something along the lines of "I promise promise promise I'll send you a message tomorrow!" and we went our separate ways.
It's weeks later and she never accepted my add, which I can understand; I'm a stranger, and she may not have even remembered where the new username on her notifications came from. And guess what, I don't even remember her name. This along with other drunken adventures just showed me that most of what I thought was real when I was that high in the clouds, wasn't. And more importantly, it's the reason why I need to work harder at being a more confident person when everyone is sober, so we all remember, and can enjoy it without the room spinning.
I know that so many people have met their besties, husbands, long-lost twinsters, and so on while drunk, but I've just given up on it working for me personally. I'm working on being that confident person sober. I may not be able to magically become an extrovert, or cure my anxiety, but I can try to get out there more, take baby steps and maybe meet some friends just as shy and awkward as me.
I'd still like to get tipsy now and again, but I think I'm off the idea of the world spinning around me, like an old dress I've worn too many times; I think I'll wear something else for a while.
I thought I hated my drunken self, but the truth is, I envy her.
Hopefully one day after a lot of practice, I can be just as confident and fun as she is, without that chemical boost.
[Gifs via Giphy]