8 CONFIDENCE Tips For Going Out Without Drinking
Having ulcerative colitis, many times when an opportunity arrises to go out with friends, head to a party, enjoy a wine girl’s night or go wine tasting, I go. BUT I typically don’t drink.
Now, let me preface this by saying IT IS OKAY IF YOU CHOOSE TO DRINK ALCOHOL. I am not shaming you. HECK I still do have a drink or two sometimes. But most of the time I choose to not drink due to my gut health issues with ulcerative colitis and simply because I don’t really like alcohol.
Little back story - I was wild my freshman year of college. W-I-L-D. Can you imagine me being a crazy party girl!? I know… I can hardly picture it anymore either (but sadly I have the photos and videos to remind me LOL). I didn’t drink in high school so I think I just hit the ground running a little too quickly, but I got it out of my system pretty dang fast.
After my freshman year I stopped partying for mental and physical health reasons and it truly made my life so much better. Ever since then and ever since getting my ulcerative colitis diagnosis, I’ve continued being the sober friend and I love it. Not drinking helps me feel most aligned with myself and I really can tell how much it impacts my gut.
Have an open conversation with your friends: open communication with your friends about your choice not to drink is hugely important. The more open and confident you are about your decision, the less your friends will even think twice about it.
Remember – you don’t need to explain yourself: on that note, don’t feel like you have to dig in deep and tell your friends or others at the party/gathering specifically WHY you aren’t drinking. Just stating “I don’t drink” or “I’m not drinking tonight” is enough. If people press you on it, you can kindly put up boundaries by saying something like “it’s just a personal choice.” OR, if you’re comfortable, you can explain enough so they understand. I find that most 20-something-year-olds just can’t fathom not drinking so by kindly discussing my autoimmune condition, which is a huge factor in my choice to not drink often, they understand. BUT, at the same time, you don’t need some big reason not to drink. Just not wanting to drink is a good reason!
Remember – all that matters is that you’re making the best decision for YOU: be CONFIDENT in your decision!!! Again, if you act confident, no one else will care. If you act awkward or make it a big deal, others probably will too. There’s no secret I can share on HOW to find this confidence, but try your best to just remind yourself that you’re doing what’s best for you.
It takes time and practice: the biggest factor in the confidence piece is that it takes time and practice. I’ve been making pretty different decisions from my friends for almost 5 years now, so I’m no newbie to saying no to alcohol, getting down at the club as sober as can be and having a blast at parties while just sipping water. But the first few times I ventured out sober? I felt so, so uncomfortable. But the more I did it, the easier it became (and the more used to it my friends became). It’s easy when you don’t want to drink to just seclude yourself and not go out or go to social gatherings, but the faster you bite the bullet and go have fun sober, the easier it becomes!
Confront the “but I wanted to take a shot with you!!!” friend: there’s always that girlfriend who begs you to drink with them. What is up with girls always wanting to take shots together like it’s some damn friendship pact!? A few times I’ve confronted the friend(s) who pressure me and ask them why it means so much to them that I drink. It usually takes them by surprise and they realize “oh… I actually don’t know” and they stop asking you to drink every 2 seconds.
If you’re going to a large setting and just don’t want to explain to everyone and their mother why you aren’t drinking, have a cup of sparkling water or a kombucha in your hand and everyone will just assume it’s alcohol. I don’t like doing this because I’m comfortable in my decision not to drink, but it’s definitely helpful if you need that extra comfort.
Have an “escape plan”: if you’re nervous that it might just be too darn awkward to be at the social gathering and not drinking, make sure to bring your own car or plan on taking an Uber or Lyft. Don’t rely on friends for rides because then you’re, well, stuck. Allowing yourself space to leave if worse comes to worse will allow you to relax and enjoy yourself more.
If it’s STILL super weird, reflect on who you’re surrounding yourself with: if you go to all lengths to feel confident being sober at parties and gatherings and you STILL feel awkward af, maybe it’s time to reflect on who you’re surrounding yourself with. Are your friends supportive of your decisions? Are they respectful? Do they listen when you explain to them WHY you make the decisions you do? Are they constantly pressuring you? Depending on the answer to those questions, it might be time to branch out and find a new group to help lift you up. There’s no shame in admitting you’ve outgrown certain friends.