Happy December, loves!
I can’t actually believe it’s December already! I hope you are having a great weekend, I sure am! On Friday night, I picked Matt up from a day out with the boys and we snuggled in for an early night. Yesterday we had the most relaxing morning watching Friends, then spent the afternoon Christmas shopping and enjoying quality time together. We were so excited for a chilled night at home, cooking steaks and watching Hell’s Kitchen and I’m A Celebrity! Today we’re hoping to go for a nice breakfast by the beach, and spend the day shopping, watching football, and visiting with family. We’re determined NOT go to Costco though (we’ve been twice in the past two weeks HAHA, we’re obsessed). What are you up to?!
Today’s post is another personal one, and it’s one I hope I can really help others with! It is not the most Christmassy of posts, however I really hope that anyone feeling a little nervous about the Christmas party season may find this post helpful. I have always been an introvert, and up until the past few years I wanted so badly to be an extrovert. I wanted to thrive off being in large groups, welcome attention and feel at ease in every conversation with a stranger. In reality, it’s just not going to happen because it’s not me, and I can now accept that’s okay. I have battled with anxiety over the past few years, however over the past 12 – 18 months I’ve felt so much better in myself, and I can confidently say it doesn’t affect me anywhere near how it used to.
My boyfriend 100% falls into the extrovert category. Matt is loud, outgoing and so friendly and welcoming to others, and it’s one of the things I admire most about him. He has so many friends and he never shies away from attention (in the best way). Even though I am completely the opposite, it’s a great balance, and he’s made me come out of my shell in so many ways. Whilst still being introverted I’ve become so much more confident and comfortable with myself. When we first started dating, I was worried that me being so shy would ‘put him off’, I’m never the life of the party and I knew this could be a bad thing in some people’s eyes. However I’ve since learned that I can be myself, and over the past year and a half I’ve definitely taken lots of good tips from Matt. As a result I now feel more comfortable in social situations, Matt’s love and support has made me feel so much more at ease with myself, and I’m no longer as shy, awkward or anxious as I used to be. I’m still never going to be the life and soul of the party, but I can enjoy social situations and not overthink everything like I once used to.
*Disclaimer: the legal drinking age in the UK is 18*
A little background
Between the ages of 19 and 22 I completely stopped drinking alcohol. I didn’t drink for a few reasons, but the main one was I was terrified to be out of control of my thoughts or actions, and I didn’t like the fear of the unknown once drunk. The root cause of this was having anxiety, and as a result, I began to miss out on a lot of social situations. Let’s bare in mind this was during my late teenage years and early twenties; a window when everyone is up for a good time; to be even more drunk than the last night out, make stupid decisions and fall into a taxi at silly o’clock in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely done that, but I was a little more carefree and didn’t deal with anxiety at that point. I’m fairly sure this is why I’m not an extrovert, seeing as I missed out on those crucial socialising years, but I stand by my decision during that time period, and I don’t regret it.
Fast forward to now, I’m 24 years old and I happily drink socially. I love a glass of wine (or two) with Matt and his family on a Friday night, I go for drinks with my boyfriend and our friends fairly regularly and really enjoy it, and this Summer, Matt and I looked forward to a fruity cider or two during the week on a sunny evening. This has now filtered through into the Autumn/Winter months and some nights we’ll have a glass of wine or a strawberry and lime cider as we curl up for the evening, wild I know! I absolutely stand by the fact I do not need alcohol to have fun or to be more social, and I’m more than happy to drive for date night or a pub night with our friends, so Matt can enjoy a few drinks. Since I began drinking again, I’ve only been mortal, as we say in Newcastle, once, but that was totally Matt’s fault. HAHA. (We went for a day date followed by a few drinks watching the NUFC game, we made friends with a sweet lady visting from New York City, crashed her evening with her friends and rolled home at 1am… oops!) For me, being tipsy is definitely my happy medium.
As I touched on earlier, the Christmas party season is coming up very quickly, and if you have anxiety, or you’re just a bit nervous/shy (contrary to popular belief, they aren’t the same thing!) but looking forward to meeting new people, maybe enjoying a few too many mulled wines and wearing all of the glitter possible, this post is hopefully for you. I’m going to share with you various things that may help you to feel more comfortable socialising, and how you can lessen any pre-party anxiety you may have.
Spend time enjoying getting ready before going out. One of the most important things for me is to feel good before I go out, as I think having that little bit of extra confidence shows through in my personality. When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good it’s very apparent to those around you. Treat yourself to a mini pamper session; run a hot bubble bath, throw a face mask on, and spend as much time as you like doing your hair and makeup. I know that glittery eyeshadow, a nude lip and a little extra highlighter makes me feel my best! Picking your outfit prior to the event date is also a good idea as it eliminates a little of the stress.
Read reviews/menu’s online. Before I go to a new restaurant, bar, hotel etc I always scour Trip Advisor and Instagram, as well as searching for blog posts to see if I can get any insider information before getting there. I’ve done this since I struggled badly with anxiety, and it’s more of a habit now than a necessity for me. It does take a little of the ‘fun’ out of going somewhere new, but I prefer to have an idea. Matt laughs at me all the time because we’ll go to a new restaurant on date night and I’m all ‘the toilets are so cool inside!’ and ‘their gin cocktail is really popular’ as we’re stepping through the door.
Have a (rough) plan. It will probably benefit you to have an idea of how your night will go, and what you’ll be up to. Most introverts thrive off plans and lists (guilty!) and much like checking out menus and reviews, you can feel at ease if you have an idea you’ll be going to A Bar, B Bar and C Restaurant throughout the night. I would say to be careful you don’t rely on this too much as, much to my dismay, plans often change last minute. You can also have an ‘escape plan’ with your partner/friend/colleague in case anything gets a bit too much for you. I am very happy to say I’ve not needed an ‘escape plan’ during nights out for well over a year now, however this used to help me so much because I knew I wasn’t trapped anywhere, and I could always get out if needed.
Book taxis prior to going. Along the same lines of planning, it always helped for me to know what time I’m going to be somewhere, and what time I’m roughly going to be back cosy in bed with bae. Again, this doesn’t affect me so much now, however it used to be a God-send, and I’d definitely recommend anyone with social anxiety to do so. It’s always a good idea to book in advance anyway as you can usually get set fares, it’s a win-win!
Go with someone you feel comfortable with. It may seem obvious, but where possible I’d always recommend going out to social events (whether it be a night out with friends or a networking event) with someone you love and trust. I know if I’m anywhere with Matthew I feel safe, protected and I enjoy my night so much more. I have this same feeling with my close friends, and I’m very grateful I am able to lean on people to find comfort if I was to feel nervous or anxious throughout the evening.
Take time out to re-fuel if you need to. If you need to walk around the room, pop to the loo (any excuse to touch up your lippy, right?) or just step outside for five minutes, that’s okay. Pay attention to how you feel, and let yourself have a few minutes of alone time if required. It’s also nice to sneak off with your partner and have your own little chat (and a quick kiss), sometimes when you go out in a group it feels like you spend half the night apart!
Join in with small talk. One of the most difficult things for me, even now, is making small talk with people I don’t know. Depending on who I’m with I sometimes find it easy to join in, although I do find it very hard to initiate. Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts and opinions, people want to get to know you! It’s all about faking it until you make it – I’m doing that, too – and it’s really important to push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes. This is one of those times! Stick to neutral subjects; mutual friends, your boyfriends bad dancing (love you, babe!) or, if worst comes to worst and you’re frozen on the spot, talk about the weather. Brits love to talk about the weather.
Don’t feel the need to keep up with the crowd. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s fine not to drink alcohol if it’s not for you, and it’s also fine to not ‘keep up’ with those around you. Who cares if Sarah is onto her fourth G&T in an hour and is begging the DJ to play Spice Girls – Wannabe? It’s not your problem, and if you are drinking I’d recommend drinking at your own pace. Let everyone else have their own fun, and you have yours. Also, if you don’t drink alcohol, it can be quite amusing to see how your friends or peers act when they’re drunk, it used to always give me a giggle!
Make sure to enjoy quality time with a loved one (or by yourself) after. That’s it, you’re home and you’ve had a great night! Now you can chill the F out. It’ll be no surprise to any of my usual readers but being with my boyfriend is my happy place, and planning in (see?) quality time with him is one of my favourite things. It’s not too often I feel shy, nervous or anxious enough to not want to go out anymore, however knowing Matt and I will get to snuggle up at the end of the night makes me feel so much better. Make your room cosy for coming home; fresh bedding, a cosy blanket, water on the bedside table in case you’ve had a little too much to drink. All of the home comforts will mean so much more to you as you’ll likely feel physically exhausted.
Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of my tips helpful? Do you have any extra tips to add, that may help me or my readers? Please let me know!
I hope you enjoy the party season, and please drink responsibly if you choose to do so!