If the me of 2016 bumped into me today, 2016 me would probably invite her to some shitty after-party, then call her a boring bitch when she refused to come.
As a student, it’s fine to drink to the point of oblivion four times a week, live off takeaways, and spend all your money exclusively between the hours of midnight and 6am.
I lived that lifestyle for three years, but by the end, I felt terrible. I’d gained weight, the thought of going a few days without a drink seemed daunting, I was skint, and every night out was a gamble between whether I’d have a good time, or end up crying or throwing up. I developed severe anxiety because of this. As a student, all of the above is socially acceptable, so no one ever questioned it.
But when you don your graduation gown and receive that A4 piece of paper that cost more than your average annual salary will ever be, you don’t just accept your degree. You accept the realisation that you’re now an adult. As soon as the graduation champagne has been drunk, you start becoming responsible. Suddenly, when you’re out on the piss four times a week no one finds it funny – they say you have a drinking problem.
This is when I decided to become boring.
Let’s be clear: I still drink alcohol. I just don’t want to get wrecked all the time anymore. I’ll happily have a G&T, but the thought of getting so drunk I might vomit has become alien to me. I’d rather walk on a mile of Lego cubes than go to someone’s smoky after-sesh, and overhearing people’s drunken conversations makes me cringe and feel anxious.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, abstaining from the ‘get-as-fucked-up-as-possible-whenever-possible’ lifestyle has meant I spend a lot of time alone. The number of mates I hang out with has dropped drastically. Whenever people invite me out to drink, I rarely say yes. This also means I get called ‘boring’ pretty much constantly.
The British mentality teaches us that if we aren’t steaming drunk at social occasions, don’t spend every hour of the weekend down the boozer, or decide not to drink for a reason other than pregnancy or extreme illness – we are boring. In a bizarre dichotomy, being drunk multiple times on weekdays raises eyebrows and concerns (aside from when you’re a student), but most weekend activities revolve around getting wasted and consuming large amounts of alcohol.
If I was a person who had never liked drinking, by the age of 21 I’d probably have established a group of like-minded friends. But to decide at 21 that you don’t like getting drunk, after spending the last seven years loving it, makes you weird.
This is not supposed to be preaching at you to cut back on your drinking. If I still enjoyed it, then I’d be sat down the pub every weekend. But I don’t. I’m now past the stage where I care if anyone calls me boring – I’d rather stay in and be branded boring than spend my Friday night sat shivering on the floor of a smoking area, chain smoking and chatting shit I don’t care about to people I won’t remember the next morning.
Next time you go to call someone boring for not drinking with you, think about why they don’t want to. Chances are, they’re probably just tired and don’t feel like it. Ask them to go for a meal, a cuppa, a walk, a bike ride, a swim. If you don’t want to do that, then the ask yourself again: why not? Why do so many of our friendships have to be based around alcohol? Surely that, in itself, is boring?
Since I cut back on drinking, it’s true that I spend a lot more time alone. But I also spend a lot more time doing things that I love. I still see most of my mates, but we end up doing stuff that normally I’d be too hungover and broke to do (this week, for example, we’re going ice skating and then to Panto because I’m feeling festive af). But then again, who cares what I say, I’m boring…
Happy Christmas from your favourite 21-going-on-50 year old x