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Is Being Brave Synonymous with Being Sober?

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

Throughout my drinking career, I thought I was one of the boldest, ballsiest people out there.

I oozed confidence and would do anything you dared me to. I’d walk straight up to someone I fancied and tell them I liked them.

I would shamelessly bop when no one was on the dance floor. I’d tell people how I felt deep, deep down.

Unfortunately, it occurred to me one day that all these ‘courageous’ acts had something in common:

I was predictably (and appallingly) pissed when I did them.

When I realised this, I was faced with a question:

Can things you do when you’re pissed really be brave?

If you follow this idea to its logical conclusion, you’ll eventually arrive at ‘no they can’t’.

The reason for this is simple: you can’t be brave if you’re not scared.

Being drunk, for me, didn’t mean I faced my fears.

It just erased them.

I didn’t gulp my anxiety down and stand up on the dance floor despite my fear.

I simply wasn’t scared anymore.

Being courageous means doing things in the face of fear. Believe me when I say that these days, I feel that fear.

It is very much there, refusing to be ignored.

I have backed out of doing brave things I’d previously agreed to more times than I can count since going sober. I’m not superhuman; the niggling worries in the back of my mind frequently get the better of me.

However, I have also, on occasion, followed through with brave things since going sober.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I recently started a new university society: Sober Soc.

To my absolute surprise, we now get 40-50 people turn up every week for ‘Sober Circle’, a fun and supportive discussion group where we laugh, play games, and talk all things alcohol and wellness.

Each week I arrive and each week I have to gulp down a flurry of fears when I realise everyone is looking at me, expecting me to lead the session.

I have awful imposter syndrome and endless doubts about myself, but each week I manage it.

Okay, I manage it with a blushing face and some verbal stumbling, but it still counts.

I also finished a draft of my first book last week and sent it off to several literary agents.

It is a deeply personal and (at times) highly inappropriate memoir that describes my journey with alcohol and what I’ve learned since going sober. When I was drinking, I would only share details of my personal life when I was steaming drunk.

Now, I have written a book-length account of my most shameful moments, and I don’t feel ashamed.

I feel proud.

I’m still afraid of what will happen and worry that people will reject me, but that’s part and parcel of facing your fears.

Without booze to dull the senses, the prospect of day-to-day activities can leave us feeling nervous and afraid.

But it is in the face of those feelings that we can learn to believe in ourselves more than ever before.

Even if you don’t face all your fears when you ditch the beer, giving up or cutting down alcohol at all is brave in itself.

It takes real guts to go against the norm, and if you’re out there doing it you should be infinitely proud of yourself.

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