UK, North West Blog

Saturday, 6 August 2016

How To Feel Comfortable At A House Party/Gathering

At social gatherings or any gathering that involves drink, I always feel as though I am the person that gets targeted for either not drinking or not having a drink, to which I get incredibly anxious and just don't want to be there anymore. This recently happened to me to which it inspired me to write a tips post as well as tell you my story, so that it can help anybody else who may have gone through a similar situation and feel as though they need some help to calm their emotions. Go grab a cup of tea or a juice or even an alcoholic beverage (if you're of age!) since alcohol is mentioned through this, because it is going to be a text heavy post.

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A couple of days ago I was invited to my boyfriend friend's house party, which at the time of the invitation I was very excited to go. However, on the morning of the party I started to feel a bit uneasy and nervous (baring in mind I did know the person whose party it was), due to the fact that I knew a lot of new people were going to be there and also because I felt as though because I am the girlfriend in this instance, that I was quite an outsider to some of my boyfriend's friends. I did contemplate just not going at all because of how I felt (these emotions tend to happen a lot in these circumstances), but I pushed through the rest of the day up until the time the party started and decided within the last hour to go. Also, because I was one of the designated drivers to the party and back (note: we stopped the night at the friend's house, so there was no drink drinking involved), I did feel like I couldn't let some of my friends down who I knew was going, so this pushed my final decision to go, and also because I knew if I did feel really uncomfortable as soon as I got there I could instantly drive home before consuming any alcohol.

On arrival to this friend's house (after a few minutes of trying to find her house), my emotions sat steady as after seeing who was already there I began to feel comfortable as I either knew a tiny bit about them or I had previously met them another time. About half an hour after this, some more people started to arrive who I knew their names of but hadn't met before and this was when my emotions started to take a turn once again. Also at this point I'd like to mention that no alcohol was consumed yet, either. So, as more people started to arrive and started coming into the living room (this was where everyone was currently sat), I began to feel anxious and as though I wanted to leave the room immediately. I however, sat, with my emotions, and started analysing around the room the new people who had arrived to see whether I felt threatened to them or as to whether I could possibly continue the night with them. This did start to calm my nerves as I started to feel comfortable that no-one would make me feel uncomfortable on purpose, but also at this stage, I had a close friend sat beside me who immediately started questioning rather loudly, why I didn't have an alcoholic drink in my hand. Now, if you know me personally you'll know I'll start to drink once I know where everything is and who is here and so forth, so you can imagine how my nerves felt when I was getting questioned by my friend, to which everyone turned round and looked at me. My nerves instantly went back to where they were previously that morning.

So, as you can imagine at this stage, my nerves are rather at the point where I pretty much want to leave but also at the stage where I feel as though if I do leave, I'm going to make a fool of myself and also have the thoughts of these new people sat on my shoulder as to what my deal is with alcoholic beverages. Instead, I sit, with my drink (which I eventually got), and my emotions, and try to basically as quietly and as preserved as possible in the corner, sort myself out. This is then when my emotions again, get affected but much more worse and intense. At this point is when the drinking games begin. Now, I don't really mind drinking games as long as they don't require me to go above and beyond to be stupid or do something I don't particularly like i.e. down my drink in one go, do dares etc. but this instead turned out to be everyone gets a single shot (again, I don't mind shots) of either a strawberries and cream or caramel and cream mixed shot. At this point my stomach sinks to the fact I know I am going to be sick if I down it, but also to the fact if I refuse I am going to get an uproar to down it by myself. So, which one happened? The second one, of course. No-one gets an easy way out after all. So, I am sat with this shot being given to me, very loudly refusing to take it because I didn't want to be sick, however, the whole room suddenly starts screaming 'down it' as typically a bunch of 18 year old's would in this instance, as well as shout 'bore', to which my anxiety flares up and I am sat wanting to literally either cry or run out the room. I do neither, as at this point my boyfriend takes the shot and drinks it for himself, but I am still sat feeling rather down and in this bubble of anxiety where I feel enclosed and as though no one cares about me at all.

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The night however, did end good as everyone eventually started to begin to see how I was reacting and after a few more drinks of vodka and coke, I did begin to get into another bubble where I didn't care which was kind of my drunk 'comfort' bubble as I like to call it. But, the point of this post is to basically share some pointers/tips and say you aren't alone in feeling this way. Everyone has something they battle with daily, even if they don't show it. So, if you ever feel like I did in either a social gathering or on a night out with friends, refer back to the pointers below, so that you don't get to the point where you need to get out immediately and breath or to the point where you need to go home.

5 Tips To Help You Control Your Anxiety At A Social Gathering
(I would also like to point out that these tips are only from my personal experience and how I feel help me deal with my emotions when I feel anxious, so what might work for me might not work for you, but don't be afraid to try them. Even if they help 1 person, I would be very happy.)

1. I feel this pointer can be a very big helpful tip, but can also be taken with a pinch of salt too. If like me you aren't much of a big drinker and are rather there to be with your friends, but instead you are getting hassled about not drinking (as I previously mentioned in my scenario), then you can essentially follow these 2 steps.
1. Have an alcoholic drink that you can manipulate to represent you've been having more than 1 all night, but have it so it lasts you most of the night. To stop people getting suspicious that you haven't changed your drink and that the level of liquid in your glass has remained the same, top up the beverage such as coke for example in your vodka and coke or whatever you have brought to the gathering, so that people aren't recognising you haven't had more than one.
Or go for 2. Say to your friends you're having a Gin & Tonic or Vodka and Coke for the night, but instead, don't use the alcohol with it and instead just drink the non-alcoholic beverage. No one will know you aren't having a 'proper' drink unless they taste it themselves.

2. Make sure someone you really trust or feel comfortable with are by your side when you go to these gatherings. Again, this may have to be taken with a pinch of salt if your rock in this situation happens to be a boyfriend or girlfriend, but they don't particularly get along with your friends or you don't essentially mix friendships with pleasure. But having someone who you feel you can turn too instantly in this scenario, and who will make the situation a bit better and get the focus off you, will help to lower your anxiety level as a change of topic will almost always happen if you're with a bunch of people and drink is involved.

3. Drinking games are about to begin. Some you're okay with and some.. not so much. A friend or individual in the room suggests the game you hate the most. What do you do?
In this instance I would say that you either need the toilet and make it known to someone nearby you need the toilet, and go find the furthest away toilet possible or one which is busy within the household. That way you are making sure that time goes by quickly and by the time you are back, everyone is likely onto the next game. Or say you need some air and quickly leave the room before anyone has the chance to say to you, go and sit by the window. It happens.
Or if your friends smoke, follow one outside and start up a conversation. This will delay the amount of times they take a drag to not very much, but if they are a quick smoker, just instantly use the toilet excuse afterwards.

4. Find the closest object possible and focus on it. Don't make eye contact with anyone unless they talk to you first.
When everyone was handing out shots, I made sure I didn't make eye contact with anyone, especially the person who was handing them and the person who insisted I needed a drink in the first place, but instead focused on the game that everyone was playing on Xbox. By focusing on something else than what is happening, but still being aware of it, you're making sure that you aren't going to be an easy target as if someone asks why you didn't have a shot for example, you can easily say you were focused on something else and that you weren't aware of what was going on.

5. Give it time and surround yourself with the people you know and feel comfortable with.
Whilst at this house party, I could genuinely say that around 50% of the people there I knew and the other 50% I didn't know. This kind of made things a little easier for me, as I sat and chatted with the people I knew and as the night went on, the people I knew introduced me to the people I didn't know and this kind of eased the tension in the air that I felt and the sickening feeling in my stomach, as I knew how these new people behaved from watching them most of the night and I also knew what some of their personality was like. Obviously, depending on who you know and who you don't know at your gathering will depend on the level of anxiety you will have. Therefore, if your scenario includes 2 people you know and about 98% of the rest of the group being strangers, you will feel as time goes on you are becoming more and more anxious.

Therefore, to follow on from this tip - I would recommend seeing who is going first. If you know most people going then gradually through the night you may start to feel a little bit more comfortable. If you don't know more than about 30-40% of the people going, then I'd recommend you have a night in for one, as you will not feel comfortable in the slightest as the night goes on, especially if your two or three friends are off socialising with everyone throughout the night and you are left sitting alone wondering what to do.

What are some of your tips to help with anxiety? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?

Penny
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