Alcohol has screwed up countless lives; 40% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism within their families, this figure doesn’t even include friends, coworkers or neighbors! Most of us have sat through classes teaching us the social dangers of getting drunk or driving drunk. We know it’s a potentially addictive drug, and that it reduces our inhibitions, resulting in poor decision-making that could get us into trouble. Most of us also choose to drink alcohol regularly, despite all of this information.
This last point is what fascinates me: I’ve been drinking or not drinking off and on for a few years now, and tend to enjoy life more when I don’t drink. Yet the social awkwardness that comes with not drinking can be uncomfortable. So I sometimes have a drink to avoid the awkwardness, convincing myself that I would like to relax and unwind with an alcoholic beverage once in a while. But then again I don’t let myself drink soda and I could say that it might be nice to have one occasionally. But why isn’t it awkward to stick to water with soda drinkers, while it is at social situations that involve alcohol?
I’ve looked at several studies and come to the conclusion that this awkwardness has not yet been successfully explained away by science. Maybe then it’s just in my mind? A study that caught my eye in particular observed that people reported a better bonding experience in a group setting with alcohol than without it, yet concluded that the results were not robust and recommended further research on the subject. Their other observations included increased coordination between the group members with social cues like smiling and speaking after the group had enjoyed an alcoholic beverage for 30 minutes. It’s important to note, however, that the subjects were all male and didn’t previously know each other. Now I’m not convinced that I’m missing out on anything if I choose not to drink, besides the drink itself.
Despite going for months without drinking and only having one drink most weeks for the past year, I still fall into a higher risk category than most people according to a short survey I took form the National Institute of Health. I’m surprised by the result and am probably going to be drinking even less after having researched alcohol in more depth for this post. Honestly having a drink is not worth the sluggish feeling the next day, or the effects of alcohol on the rest of your body.
As for social awkwardness, I loved what my yoga teacher, Ally, said in class last week; while we were holding a long awkward pose she philosophized about accepting the awkwardness of situations because they’re bound to happen and you will only make it more awkward overall if you attempt to avoid awkwardness. I’ve made her spiel sound awkward, but it makes sense to me! I’m going to continue to go out with people, party and not drink often; that way I’m even more present for the fun and have no regrets afterward.