Dear Dr. Expert,

I have a secret that nobody would believe.  I’m shy! The idea of going to parties just freaks me right out and yet most of my friends and people I know would tell you I’m the life of the party! The problem is that the only way I can go to parties and have a good time is to drink before and then more once I get there. Sometimes I drink secretly in the bathroom. I think it’s getting worse so I want to stop, but I’m terrified that people won’t like the real me or will find me boring. What should I do?

Boozing in Bowen

Dr. Expert: Dear Boozing in Bowen,

Some people who feel uncomfortable in social situations hide out at home and avoid going out. Other people socialize a lot but use things like drugs or alcohol to try and feel less anxious. However, this strategy prevents you from realizing the situation may not be as dangerous as you think and that the things you fear may not actually happen (e.g., people might not find you boring when you’re sober.) In fact, when you are sober maybe you are a much better listener and a conscientious friend. But don’t take my word for it, test it out! Try going to the party without drinking and test out whether people don’t like you or find you boring.  But, don’t make assumptions about what people think, look at the facts. See what people actually do and say. Was it as bad as you thought? You can also develop more people skills to help you out to – like remembering that other people usually love talking about themselves, so become interested in others. In the end, people barely remember what you say or do, but they do remember how you made them feel.