With the festive season now well and truly "wound down", I'm sure there are a few of you that have made the New Years resolution to either drink less this year or at least snatch back your Sunday mornings from the dreaded soul sucking hangover. As a backpacker that often finds myself at the 'party hostel' every now and then, sore heads and the "I'm never drinking again" speech crosses my path more than I care for. Simply because these days, I don't drink.
"An Australian twenty-something backpacking her way around the world... that is happy to pass up the free shot of tequila with dinner? No way!!"
I hear it a lot. Foreigners completely taken a back that 'my type' even exists, because quite frankly they rarely come across an Aussie that can drink responsibly, let alone one that doesn't drink at all (their words, not mine.. We have quite the reputation.).
I can honestly say, I've never enjoyed drinking. Sure, I did it anyway and spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties drinking the night away with friends, out until the early hours of the morning. But I was always the 'light-weight' of the group. The first one to cut myself off in the fear of being violently ill (which I so often was), never really able to keep up with the others. And whilst I quit the binge-drinking, "let's get smashed!" phase of my life many years ago now, it has been in the last year that I have slowly cut out alcohol all together. Not because of my health, but because I finally realised - I don't like it. I don't like the way it makes me feel.... So why did I do it? Why did I feel I had to have those 3-4 vodkas when out with friends or in a certain social surrounding? Was it a fear of not fitting in? Not appearing sociable? Looking like the boring one?
Probably a little bit of each. Which is why it took a year of working on both my health and mindset to develop the confidence in myself to say those things don't mean anything to me anymore.
Feeling good, feeling myself and being the best version of myself, means more.
When I think of the people I admire most in my life, there is one quality that shines in each of them. They ooze confidence in being who they are. They own their decisions and proudly wear their 'this is me' badge with honour. So I took a leaf from that book and chose to wear my badge too. And in doing so, I feel even more liberated, and have managed to spend the majority of the last 7 months (minus a few moments of denial early on) feeling strong, comfortable and happy in all the social situations I would have previously felt the pressure to drink in.
Sure, it can sometimes be hard. Especially when your new friend at the bar decides it's their one goal of the night to make you drink, to make themselves feel more at ease. And yes, it can often be harder to find good friendships on the backpacking circuit when you aren't getting smashed alongside them. But in saying that, the friends I have made are worth a million times more.
So whilst I've done the drunken backpacker scene before, lived the party lifestyle overseas and stumbled home many a times after late night pizza; this time I've done it all the complete opposite way. And I can honestly say, this feels way more me.
When we stop fighting that inner voice, and start listening and opening ourselves up to what really brings us joy, life starts to become so much easier. We no longer feel the need to pretend or please others. We release the build up of stories in our head on what we should be doing, and find peace in listening to what we really want to be doing.
So here's to coming home. To finding the 'you' that you love most and living it proudly for all to see!