Introversion and Alcohol
I started getting drunk when I was in high school, and before we were of legal age my friends and I used to go through such incredible lengths to get alcohol. We’d say things to each other like, “do you need alcohol for tonight?” Like need alcohol. It felt like we really did need it for the parties we would go to.
I can still remember how uncomfortable I’d have felt if I wasn’t “drunk enough” to be at one of those parties. At least to me, that would have seemed like some kind of incredible accomplishment.
I guess that stuck with me growing up, because even though I started partying far less into adulthood, I still felt that compulsive need to drink in social situations.
As an introvert, alcohol was a way to get me through those large social gatherings like going out to bars and parties. It took so long for me to realize that it wasn't my nature to enjoy being in those environments and that I was actually drinking to make them bearable.
It wasn’t until the forced Covid shutdowns that I started to really discover the things that I genuinely loved doing. Finding things like painting and reading and getting up with the sun for early morning walks have all shown me how to live my life more authentically.
Once I started putting more thought into drinking and why I did it, I thought it would be kind of like a fun game to experience some firsts without alcohol.
I tried going to my first wedding without drinking. I mean what a concept. I stayed into the night, and then at 11 I went home to bed. Can you believe that? And no one said to me that I had to be there until 1 in the morning in order to properly celebrate the marriage.
I noticed that rather than waiting for alcohol to take me to this other state of being where I imagined I was more fun and more charismatic, I was fully present. I enjoyed being there, really being there with all of my family.
Besides, I think the most enjoyable part about drinking is just the buzz that you get from the first drink anyway. Then you spend the rest of night trying to chase that initial feeling, but it’s not possible to maintain. Instead you end up getting drunker and drunker and sloppier and sloppier.
Then there was the morning after the wedding. I’ll never forget waking up early the next day. I was almost expecting myself to be hungover. I got up and slowly walked my way into the kitchen to get a big drink of water before I realized. I felt so good. Even reliving that moment now makes me feel excited.
And then there’s dating. Before I wouldn't have been able to fathom going on a first date without having a drink first. Or many drinks. And that is just not what you want, when you think about it. Rather than making me more fun and personable it was actually making me a little dumber and a little less of a good conversationalist.
I thought it could loosen me up a bit and help me release my inhibitions. But maybe the inhibitions are there for a reason.
If you’re not vibing with someone, wouldn’t you rather know it? I tried going on dates and just experiencing everything. I didn't numb myself to the bad experiences. Instead I embraced them, because at least I knew when to stop seeing people that I couldn't have fun with sober.
Now I feel like not drinking is my super power. When I was travelling in Italy, I still had a little taste of wine in Chianti, but that was fine enough for me. Since I knew I'd be spending the afternoon in San Gimigniano, I didn't want to do it with the awful after effects of day drinking (like some of the others in my party I am sure experienced).
I never said to myself, “I’ll never drink again,” or anything like that. I don't believe in living by strict rules. I just know that right now, I don’t want to. Because I realized that it feels so good to feel good.
Life is so beautiful, with all of its ups and downs. And I don't want to numb myself to any of it.
If you don’t want to do something, I hope you don't do it. To truly come to know what it is that we like doing requires us to take stock of ourselves rather than passively going along with what the people in our circles are doing.
And if you end up losing the friends you had because all you did was drink together, then I don't think those relationships had anything to do with you anyway.
In order to add to our lives and discover the things that feel natural to us, we will also have to take some things away.
Recommended Reading: This Naked Mind