Liquid courage. That alcohol-induced fearlessness during a night out that leads to belting karaoke or asking for a cute stranger’s number. The bravery to paint your body for a sporting event or rock a bold fashion choice that comes from taking a shot before you leave the house. It’s become very common for people to use alcohol to boost one’s confidence.
But what happens when you see someone attractive in line at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop at 8 a.m.? Or when you want to wear something trendy or boundary-pushing to work? Do you have the natural confidence to rock these potentially awkward situations the same way you would after a few drinks?
For many, that answer is, “Heck no.” For the sober socially timid, we’ve put together a few strategies to help change that! Relying on liquid courage creates a false sense of identity and confidence. Equip yourself with a set of skills that empowers you with the self-assurance to greet every social situation head-on.
Set a goal that makes you feel like a badass.
Think about the last time an accomplishment made you feel good. Like extremely good. Maybe you finished your first 5K or half-marathon or sang an original song you wrote at an open-mic. Do you remember how excited you felt sharing that accomplishment with others? Create an opportunity for yourself to feel that way again. Train to hike a long trail before cold weather comes back. Work on your spoken word to be a finalist in the next local poetry slam competition. Reaching a big goal will give you the same stoke and confidence as a few drinks—maybe more!
Create a unique claim to fame.
Often, our lack of social confidence comes from fear of not seeming exciting or engaging enough. Having an unexpected anecdote about that one time when you did __________ helps combat that concern. Drinking to mask anxiety can backfire and amplify it. For example, I’m always very quick to tell anyone who will listen that I’m allergic to penguins—a fact I wouldn’t know without my trip to Patagonia, Argentina. It’s a fantastic icebreaker!
You don’t have to leave your town to have a great conversation starter. Customize your go-to factoid to be something you’re really into, like the fact that you’ve eaten at every taco shop within a 30-mile radius, or that you know everything about obscure Topic X. Or that you can burp the alphabet. Whatever. Dive deep into what makes you happy or laugh, and, in turn, you won’t feel stuck for conversation the next time you’re meeting someone new! If all else fails, people generally like talking about themselves so ask them about something more meaningful than the obvious weather outside or the big game’s score last night.
Have a clear “why.”
Understanding why you’re putting yourself out there in a social situation can help alleviate your discomfort. Going to a tedious after-work happy hour can mean casual conversation with your boss that gives you the opportunity to share all you do for the company, which could lead to a raise. Talking to the person sitting next to you on the bus wearing one of your favorite band’s t-shirts can lead to a more enjoyable commute and maybe even a new friend or a date!
Clarifying your motivations is a great way to talk yourself into something healthier than drinking enough to slur your speech. Plus, if there’s nothing that makes it worth it, you’ve saved yourself a lot of time and freed yourself to pour your heart into more things that have a purpose and feeds your soul.
Without question, social situations can be complicated and stressful, especially for those who live with anxiety or depression. The need for tools and skills to feel comfortable and confident is real for all of us. However, having long-term, deep-seated confidence will help reduce the need for consistent use of the alcohol-induced kind.
About the Author
Jenn McAmis is a digital nomad who lives with her two rescue dogs in a 1984 Toyota Sunrader camper. She spends most of her days barefoot searching for the next outdoor adventure, drinking too much coffee and dabbling in all things woo-woo. You can follow her journey on Instagram @travelinglovefairy and subscribe to her shenanigans on her website.