I used to drink because it took me out of my shell.
I admit, the first few years in recovery were hard for me. Obviously, it was difficult because I had to always be on guard to stay away from the relapse. But it was also difficult because I was figuring out who the fuck I was.
That’s not easy.
It took some practice and some trial and error, but before long I started feeling comfortable with the guy I saw in the mirror. I’m not just talking about liking myself, I’m talking about understanding myself. Knowing who I was, what I was into, what I wasn’t into. Most of all, I learned that I don’t have to make everyone happy.
As addicts, I feel we all have a tendency to want to please other people. But ironically, being yourself is the best way to find people who like you just the way you are.
So, for anyone who may be stuck in this rut, I will give you some tips that helped me.
1 – Keep Doing What You Love To Do
I needed to keep a few things close to the hip. I knew that I had to step out of my comfort zone if I wanted to grow as a sober person, but I also knew that I needed to keep some foundational aspects of myself.
So there were areas where I pushed myself and areas in which I sat back and did what was comfortable. For me this meant…
- I continued to run
- I continued to read comic books
- I would skateboard at night with my headphones on like I have been doing since I was 7
- I had a peanut butter and jelly with chocolate milk before bed
It sounds silly, but there was comfort and familiarity in these habits of mine. So I stuck with them and over time, it made it easier to settle into who I was.
2 – Say To Yourself “It’s Not That Big Of A Deal”
The smallest things would make me so anxious.
If I was running a few minutes late I would have anxiety attacks. If I was meeting new people I was always second guessing what I would say. I was in a new place and I didn’t know if people would like the way I dressed.
Once I was in a meeting and I heard a guy talk about some similar fears he had and he said to himself “you know what, who cares?”
Something about that just clicked.
At the end of the day, people don’t care about me as much as I think they do. If I show up a few minutes late or if I say something stupid, yeah it might not feel that great, but it’s not the end of the world.
It’s just not that big of a deal.
After I became comfortable with that idea, I became comfortable doing and wearing and saying what I wanted because it didn’t matter how other people perceived me.
3 – Say Hi To Strangers
I don’t remember where I got this idea from. Maybe I read it online.
I was always so uncomfortable around people, which is why I would always get shit faced in social settings.
I knew that I had to get passed this hurdle, so I started small. I would randomly say hi to people who I passed. I would walk by someone at Target or I would skate by someone on the sidewalk.
I made it a point to say “Hi, how’s it going?” I would so pleased to find out that almost everyone would smile and say hi in return.
Eventually, I got the courage to start introducing myself to people or asking about their work or what they do who how they know someone else I know.
It got so much easier and I realized that people were actually relieved when I would say hi to them.
The truth is, people want to talk to you just as much as you want to talk to them. Having the courage to make the first move makes it way easier to be yourself.
Here’s the deal. I still enjoy my alone time.
I’m not on a mission to be the most liked guy in Florida but I’m also not avoiding people either. We are all social creatures and everyone needs friends and connection.
The truest thing I can say about this is that once you get through it, you will realize that people are not as scary as you think they are.
People are great.
Now that you are sober, you can truly be yourself and live the life of confidence and humility and fun that you always wanted.