Socialising has run through my veins for as long as I can remember. I was brought up as an only child and not relying on the safety net of a brother and sister meant that I always had get out of my comfort zone to make new friends.
My first job at 16-years-old was serving breakfast in a hotel, then it was waitressing in our local restaurant and as soon as I turned 18 I had two pub jobs and started working in a nightclub – but the socialising didn’t stop there. At university I studied events and hospitality management and then when I moved to London, I joined a company that revolved around client entertaining, hosting events and going out to bars and nightclubs to recommend to our clients. Basically, I LOVE to host, network and I thrive when meeting new people.
It was no surprise then that, at 13, when I had my first taste of alcohol (the so-called social elixir) that I fell madly, deeply in love! I had found something that could enhance my social situations (or so I thought at the time), something that made me feel grown-up and something that gave me more energy and allowed me to be even more confident. From that moment on, alcohol played a heavy part in my life. Not only was it (and still is) woven into the social fabric of the world but the career path I had chosen for myself was essentially based around socialising with alcohol too.
After years of being in a negative cycle of destructive behaviour from the ages of 25 – 28 and always dipping in and out of sobriety, I realised in 2018 that it was finally time to hang up my drunk-dancing shoes and replace them with shiny new sober ones. I really hadn’t ever known my life from a young age without alcohol. I didn’t know what it meant to socialise sans booze, what a relationship looked like without alcohol, what a sober night out felt like or who I really was without my party girl persona.
Questions I asked myself (and ones you’ll no doubt ask too) included:
Will I still be fun?
Will people think I’m boring?
Will I still be able to enjoy a night out?
Becoming the ultimate sober party girl
But the truth is, I am more confident, fun, present, exciting and kinder with my sober shoes on and none of my sober socialising fears came true. I even used my experience and passion of hospitality, meeting new people and putting on events to create my business Sober & Social where I help others to feels empowered, confident and supported on their sober journeys!
So here are my 5 top-tips for sober socialising:
1. Prepare yourself
Before a sober night out I like to really get in the mood. This would previously look like downing a bottle of rosé while getting ready but these days I like to get myself in a positive mindset as I feel this is crucial for enjoying (and let’s be honest) surviving a sober night out. I meditate for 10 minutes, go for a run, have a bath and then pour myself some kombucha. Stick some house tunes on and voilà you are ready to go face the night head on! My theory is, if we feel at our best we are less likely to engage in behaviours that we know aren’t good for us.
2. Order a soft drink first
Now this might sound blindingly obviously because let’s face it – what else are you doing to order? BUT make sure this is the first thing you do, this can be the biggest hurdle when you arrive and everyone is ordering alcohol or there are trays being passed around. Its VERY easy to get into the ‘oh I will just have one mentality’ so ordering your AF drink early takes the battle out of your head.
3. Embrace Conversation
On a night out the only thing I would usually worry about is where my next drink is coming from or if the waiter was on their way to top up my glass. I was very rarely engaged or present in the conversations I was having. In my sobriety I care about what people have to say, want to ask questions and find out more about them. I find I leave nights out feeling more fulfilled and enriched through deeper connections.
4. Phone a friend
We are always going to encounter tricky sober socialising situations that we find triggering, uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing. I recommend having a sober pal on speed dial so that if you need some support you always have someone to help you through and remind you why picking up that drink is never a good idea.
5. Don’t be afraid to leave
Don’t feel like you have to stay the entire evening. The fact you have shown up, had a good time and been present is enough. When we are drinking we usually order more alcohol to keep the night going but in sobriety our mind and bodies let us know when we have had enough. We instinctively know when we’re meant to leave and it’s great to be able to listen to ourselves, know we have had a great night and can wake up in the morning feeling fresh.
My final advice to you is ANYTHING is possible, NOTHING is as scary as it first my seem, and life, friendships, relationships and social situations are without doubt more rewarding and vibrant sober.
Written by Emily Syphas
Emily is founder of Sober & Social a global brand and community that supports those wanting to explore and lead a teetotal lifestyle. The core ethos of Sober & Social is to empower, encourage and celebrate you living your healthiest and happiest life. Sober & Social was founded on the basis that going alcohol free shouldn’t mean missing out or having to compromise on your social life.