There are many things I’ve learnt about myself since I stopped drinking. The most important and most obvious thing is that I was able to do it; this was something I never thought would be possible. But that aside, there are other realisations that I have along the way, which are sometimes more subtle learnings.
A year or so ago, I realised that I was an introvert. With hindsight, I always knew this was the case, but it was only recently that I could put a label on it and identify with what that meant. It was quite liberating actually. Before then, I always felt that I was inadequate for not wanting to socialise in big groups, but now I know that there are lots of people like me, and it’s OK.
The Urban Dictionary definition of an introvert is:
“An introvert prefers to spend time alone in order to recharge their inner being. An introvert may appear to be shy to others, but that is not necessarily an accurate label. Being among groups of friends, family and even strangers can be wonderfully stimulating and joyous occasions. Interacting with people and attention to multiple sources of stimuli tends to draw down an introvert’s energy causing them to eventually withdraw to spend time alone to re-energize. Small talk and pointless conversations tend to draw down an introvert’s energy rapidly.
An introvert enjoys time alone without unwanted distractions and stimulation in order to recharge their inner strength.”
I’m not shy, I just prefer meeting people in very small groups, or in one-to-one situations.
And it strikes me that our society is strongly geared towards socialisation, so that when I was growing up, the idea of a good time was a room full of people, which I suppose I must have found stressful at some level. Fast forward to teenage years and above, and alcohol comes to the rescue to make those potentially awkward social situations bearable. I can now see that I used alcohol to mask my introversion and make it possible to get out and about.
I don’t know what I would have done if I’d not been drinking then. Would I have stayed at home on my own to avoid the situation? Never gone out? I can’t say. But I do know that now I CAN go out without alcohol. And of course, social occasions with lots of people do come my way sometimes. Sometimes it suits me to go to places where I feel awkward and out of my comfort zone, and sometimes I reason that actually it’s not how I want to be spending my time. Since I realised that I was an introvert, I realised that I have a choice, and I don’t mind exercising it. And that there’s nothing wrong with me.