Last Friday we went to my husband’s best friend’s wedding. It was something I was really looking forward to as after weeks of feeling quite frumpy and generally ‘pregnant’, it was a chance to dress up a little and spend some time dancing the night away with my hubby. The fact I’d managed to get a super cheap dress from Primarni too, just added to my excitement (yes, saving money really does make me that happy). What I hadn’t really considered however was how my social anxiety and general shyness would be affected without having that little bit of Dutch courage to fall back on.
Some people are comfortable with drinking the odd glass of wine here and there when pregnant. Current guidelines are not to have any whatsoever, and while I don’t judge anyone who is happy with taking this risk (because at some point everything during pregnancy is a risk), I personally couldn’t handle the guilt and anxiety that would inevitably follow. I am happy to go without for 9 months – in the grand scheme of things it isn’t really that long.
I can honestly say that I have missed my red wine on a Friday evening with my husband, when on meals out, and at BBQs when you just want to pickle in the sun with a nice Hendrix. Other than that it’s just been a mild inconvenience and actually it’s quite nice to never have to worry about how we’re getting home!
It wast something I was particularly concerned about for the wedding either. But after a sudden realisation I would be on a table full of strangers, the fear took hold. I was terrified of having nothing to say, of being left out or worst being put on the spot. With increased blood flow (pregnancy yay), I also become red-faced at the slightest point of embarrassment, which is often because I’m embarrassed about going red. Even with people I know. I’m not ashamed(well maybe a little) to admit I had a little anxiety cry in the back of our car on the way to the venue.
I felt pathetic. I’m a 30-year-old woman about to become a mother. Surely I could get through a dinner with strangers without a glass of wine??
As with most anxieties, the reality is never as bad the mind will have you believe or imagine. Not only did I not melt into a puddle on the floor Wizard Of Oz style, I actually managed to hold most of the conversation at our table!
In short, I was a delight!
In all seriousness though, I quickly realised that I wasn’t the only shy and nervous person at the table.
I think we all assume that strangers are all confident life winners! But the truth is often that most of us have fears, insecurities and feel inadequate at times. When we meet strangers we somehow think that all the things we dislike about ourselves will be out and in the open for everyone to see, to ridicule. That we’re transparent frauds.
I know this is why I drank in social situations before, and until now I always assumed it was due to the alcohol that I became someone who was at ease with new people.
I have learned in the best possible way that I don’t need to drink to be affable. That while I may never lose my shyness, I can now be confident in the knowledge that the sociable side of me, is in fact all me. And that feels so incredibly powerful and freeing.
I don’t think I realised how much I still relied on a drink to add something to my personality that I thought was previously missing. It shocked me a little to realise how scared I was without it, but I was equally shocked by how much I enjoyed myself completely sober.
I am not about to go teetotal. I still enjoy my wine and gin way too much. But I certainly don’t feel like it’s something I ever need to rely on again!