As a sober coach, I spent a lot of time working one-on-one and in small groups with women who are trying to change their relationship with alcohol. One of the biggest struggles for them is that their social life revolves around drinking - and feeling awkward and uncomfortable around stepping into sobriety amongst family and friends who drink.
When drinking and partying is the norm, we begin to think that everyone around us drinks alcohol - and feel uncomfortable going against the norms and doing something different! We think that everyone else is looking at us and wondering why we’re not drinking. In reality, after four years sober - I’ve realised that most people are thinking about themselves and focused on themselves - so we actually don’t need to worry at all!
Here are some strategies I would give you to not feel awkward if you’re the only one not drinking
in your social crowd.
1. Wait until you’re ready. When I quit drinking, I took about three weeks off of socialising before I felt ready to re-enter the social scene and go to brunches, ladies' nights, events and parties. Don’t be afraid to hibernate for a bit. Cancel plans. You don’t need an excuse or reason. Only enter the social scenes when you’re ready.
2. Be honest with your friends. I think one of the biggest challenges people face when going alcohol-free is peer pressure. If you’re honest with your friends and tell them you’re not drinking, that can help mitigate peer pressure. One of the best things I did was just be honest and tell others about my issues with alcohol. Once people realised I was serious about stopping, they rallied around me and gave me more support.
3. Plan ahead. Plan ahead, and research venues you are attending to make sure they’re sober-friendly. In my early days of sobriety, I actually remember calling venues in Abu Dhabi ahead of brunch and checking with them to find out what mocktails they provided. Knowing what you’re going to order ahead of time so that you don’t get put on the spot when placing an order, can be super helpful!
4. Show Up Late. Something that massively helped me was showing up late for events. At big events, like the work Christmas Party, I would feel overwhelmed by all the nervous energy at the start of the night. Once everyone had a few drinks and the games started, I found I was much more comfortable in the space. I would regularly show up to events slightly late - and this would help me feel more comfortable.
5. Leave Early. Once I quit drinking, I loved the fact that I never needed to organise a taxi on a night out and could always be the driver! I loved having the power to leave at any time. I would let anyone jump in the car who wanted to join and get a ride home - but I never waited until they wanted to leave - I always left when I was ready to go. Don’t stick around if you feel ready to go home - and having an exit plan is an awesome way to do that!
Going alcohol-free in a world that glamorises drinking alcohol can be very challenging - but know that you can do it! You can have a happy, fun, and joyful life without alcohol. It just takes a little bit of learning how to do it!
Make sure you find a community of people who can connect with you and understand what you’re going through. If you are part of a community such as my Facebook Group, Sober Girls Yoga, you can regularly connect, check-in, and get support from your community members -and that way you can feel less alone!