I’m Stephen. I’m Sober And Socially Awkward

My anxiety levels were fairly high yesterday morning as we set off to attend the wedding of Fionnuala’s brother, Gearard, to his fiancée, Emma. Ever since I gave up drinking five years ago I have struggled at social events, especially those where I have to interact with people I don’t know. Alcohol was my crutch to get through these occasions. I was always the first person to get drunk and usually ended up sleeping in the corner just as the party was getting going.

My strategy yesterday was to keep busy and ensure Fionnuala and the kids had a great day. Hannah had to be a bridesmaid and the other three all had roles during the church service. All I had to do was turn up in a suit and not embarrass my daughters with my ‘dad dancing.’ I had been well warned beforehand. The second I started busting out my moves was the second I would be forcibly evicted from the venue.

I spent the morning performing taxi duties ferrying Fionnuala, the girls and my beloved mother in law to and from various hair and beauty salons. I also paid a visit to the florists to collect button holes as well as ferrying the worryingly relaxed groom from his house to where the car would be coming to convey him to the chapel. Some of the men had a beer beforehand but I stuck to the Diet Coke.

The service ran smoothly. The bride turned up five minutes early. Hannah looked amazing and performed her role perfectly while a bird flew around the rafters of the chapel for the entire service leading the priest to comment that the Holy Spirit was well and truly in the building. The weather was mild and dry which is basically all you can ask for in the land of driving rain and bitter cold.

When we arrived at the reception venue there was iced beer and sparkling wine on the patio overlooking the lawns. This would have been the beginning of the end for the old Stephen as I would have enthusiastically launched myself into the complimentary alcohol. I would have been drunk well before the meal and speeches and no doubt making a total fool of myself in the process. Weddings were always a disaster for me in that respect.

I had no internal shut-off mechanism when I drank. I was a binge drinker and would consume as much beer as I could as quickly as I could. My sole objective was to get inebriated as this killed my innate shyness and social awkwardness. I thought I was the life and soul of the party when in reality I was the talk of the party. And for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Even worse was the sight of me the next day. Horribly hungover and gripped by self pity and a fear as to what I had said or done the previous day.

Today, however, I woke with a clear head. Tired, yes, but still able to run 10K, my final training run before the Belfast Marathon. I was out of my comfort zone yesterday. I’m not very good at small talk and feel uncomfortable around people drinking alcohol. The temptation is no longer there but it brings back a lot of bad memories. I did my best, however, to get into the party mood and, most of all, ensure that Fionnuala and the kids had a great day.

In the end they did. And so did I. The meal was great and the speeches entertaining. I even got a mention in the groom’s speech. Afterwards there was cake, a magician and Star Wars figures. Well it was May the Fourth after all. Hannah even allowed me on the dance floor to shake my thang towards the end of the night. There is video evidence of my shape throwing somewhere on Facebook apparently. We didn’t get home until almost two in the morning. A great day.

Who needs alcohol?

Are you socially awkward? How do you deal with it?

41 thoughts on “I’m Stephen. I’m Sober And Socially Awkward

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  1. I also have a hard time a social events and most of the time avoid them at all costs. Unfortunately there are ones that I cannot escape, and must leave the nice cozy cocoon of my home. I find that a few glasses of wine in I relax and can get through the evening. I don’t like that I need something to take the edge off and I can totally relate, I’m usually depressed and upset as I crawl into bed because the alcohol has taken me too far. Otherwise I’m not much of a drinker, but having like you said have to small talk it’s hard.

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  2. It sounds like you did a great job without alcohol, if not a much better one! 2am would have way outlasted me with or without drinking! You should feel so happy that you and your whole family had a great time and there were no consequences afterwards. That by the way is an awesome photo 😊 not long till Monday now!

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  3. I am not good in social situations and would turn to a glass of wine or something but now that I don’t drink…I’m just my awkward self. Which is actually better than my tipsy-too-talkative awkward self. 😬

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  4. Congratulations, Stephen! Better to feel a little awkward then the promise of bad reviews from friends and family and a heck of headache in the morning! You have much to be proud of! Blessings.

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  5. I’m an extreme introvert and I dread parties. But it helps if family is there. I don’t drink either, and I usually feel very shy, but I try to find another awkward person to talk to in a quiet corner. I’m only good for a couple of hours. After that I get a migraine. Like Cinderella at the ball, after my two hours are up, all the magic is gone, and I have to rush home. 🙂

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      1. Wow…I’d need to “hide” some of the time in another room or the car or outside. Hats off to you for staying all 12 hours and making it a nice day for your family!!

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  6. Thank you for such an honest, real, and open post! I’m glad to hear the event was so successful!

    Also, loved the commentary on the presence of the Holy Spirit during the ceremony!

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  7. As usual, I could relate to large parts of your journey. I often think I ended up in professions working with young people after I stopped drinking because of the difficulty I had with adults. Again thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

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  8. Oh boy am I socially awkward. I usually try to find a corner to hide in with a pet nearby. If that isn’t possible, I find one person that I know and hang with them for a bit. Usually others come along, and soon I’ve gotten over that “I hate starting conversations with people I may annoy” feeling. Also I’ve directly told my close friends about my anxiety and awkwardness, and thankfully they help me out.

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  9. Years ago, whenever I’d have dinner with the guy I was dating, I’d have a glass of wine or some type of alcoholic drink to “relax” (one glass was enough to make me woozy). I thought it would make me more “fun” and less “stiff”…thought it would make me more talkative, but nope, I was still quiet and just laughed at silly stuff. Now when I look back, I can see that wasn’t true relaxation or peace. It’s much better to be sober and alert so you can enjoy the full experience. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy yourself without alcohol. I feel like society bombards us with the message that we need it to be cool, capable, and desirable and we really don’t need it.

    I hate crowds and having to mingle, so I avoid parties and networking like the plague. I don’t mind going to events (like book fairs, lectures, etc.) as long as I can be alone and I’m not forced to talk to anyone.

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  10. Great post! Weddings are one of the most difficult situations for me when it comes to drinking. Social awkwardness is hard for me, but it makes it easier when you realize that no one is really comfortable unless they are drinking. Since you are sober, you are 100% in charge of you! This is the shield. Wear with pride!

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