The weird thing about not drinking but hanging out with people who are drinking is feeling “contact drunk.” It happens to me around people who are rrreally stoned, too, even though that hasn’t really been a thing since the late 1990s.
Maybe it’s a defense mechanism of a sort. I don’t want to drink, so I won’t be drunk. But drunk people are acting on an… let’s call it an elevated social plane. Things are a bit looser and a bit more acute. So I self-modify toward that, because otherwise I start (a) standing out and (b) getting aggravated.
Oh! I guess the good news is I hung out with people for an extended amount of time in a bar last night and didn’t drink. Didn’t even really feel a strong urge to. The nachos, on the other hand — those were a problem. But I’m fairly pleased with myself, not only for not drinking, but also that it wasn’t a white-knuckle stressful “must… not… drink” experience.
Contact drunk is my brain’s way of fitting in
As somebody with a fair level of social anxiety, my coping mechanisms are manifold. My coping mechanisms have their own coping mechanisms. So I’m pretty comfortable with the working theory that even when I’m sober, hanging out with people who’ve been drinking does something to me. My brain says “let’s just roll with this vibe and fit in”, and I start feeling kinda… drunk. We’re not talking Zelig here, but it’ll do.
Me being me, this has led into a rapid rumination spiral. Now I’m at “do I even have a personality at all, or am I just a blank template-sponge?” Don’t stop being my brain, brain. You’re doing a bang-up job.