Being Different: On Saying No To Alcohol – Ellie-Louise Des Baux

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Hi, I’m Ellie-Louise, a freelance writer and self-love advocate! When I’m not writing articles for my clients, you can find me writing for my blog, Ellie’s Entries, or practising yoga! Over on my Instagram (@ellie_desbaux), I talk a lot about self-love, body confidence and mental health, and what I want to talk about today ties into exactly that!

If you would like to see more from me you can check out my links here: https://linktr.ee/elliedesbaux

Before I dive into this article, I want to say a huge thank you to Chloe for this series and letting me tell my story! I can’t wait to read everyone else’s.

What makes you different?

Growing up I struggled a lot with my mental health and fitting in, so when my teenage years came about and everyone started drinking, I saw it as a safe haven for friendship and unity. I was finally deemed cool enough to be invited to parties. Unfortunately, a poor mental state and alcohol didn’t mix very well for me.

It’s like mixing red wine with vodka, been there, done that, I don’t recommend it! 

As the years went by I was labelled the ’emotional drunk’ and really didn’t understand what limits were. I didn’t know what to do. If I got drunk people, who didn’t know me very well, would complain about me being a wreck, but if I didn’t they would call me boring. It may sound crazy, but the latter scared me the most. I have always been the boring one, the one who didn’t dance, the one who didn’t take risks, I couldn’t chance it.

So, after years of regretting every night out and torturing myself mentally for the things I did or said when I was drunk – I decided to try and cut back on drinking. It didn’t happen all at once. I found it hard to visit old friends because it was easy to fall back into old habits and trips to the pub seemed alien without alcohol.

As I have grown and began to transform my mindset, I realised saying no to alcohol was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s still a journey and some people don’t understand but it was a big part of me starting to love myself and forgiving my past.

What is bad about why you are different?

From growing up in London and working in Soho, you quickly learn that everything revolves around booze. The drinking culture was out of control and sometimes I still crumble under the pressure. I couldn’t keep up with the drinking, as soon as the words left my mouth, ‘I don’t drink’ their faces paled and any chance of friendship was lost. I ended up leaving my dream job in London because of my anxiety and fear that I didn’t fit in.

Working there was great and I’ll always be grateful for the experience but the mainstream culture around drinking just wasn’t for me and you had to participate to survive in the industry I was in.

Soon I realised it wasn’t just London, but it was a human trait to enjoy drinking. At first, I thought maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I soon learned it’s okay to be different.

Something I’ve struggled with is that people find it hard to relate to me when they find out I don’t like getting drunk. Even though I don’t drink, I don’t hold any negative feelings towards people who do! It’s fun for many people and I hope my sobriety doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. I know a lot of people who like to drink but it doesn’t alter my opinion of them, there is so much more to us than if we like a drink or not.

The other struggle I have faced is sending mixed messages. If I go to the pub or it’s a special occasion, I might choose to have one drink. However, when I choose not to have a second or third, people think there’s something wrong with me and question me throughout the evening. They ask if ‘I’m sure?’ and say ‘I’ll have more fun’ if I drink.

What is good about why you are different?

Over the process of cutting alcohol out of my life, it has helped me practice keeping my boundaries. I feel healthier, I have a better relationship with myself and the things I consume.

When I go out, I know I have a choice and saying no is okay. I can now enjoy being my true self, without the regrets, self-hatred, and 2-day hangovers.

What is one thing you want someone to take away from this article the most?

My advice would be to do what makes you feel good! If following the crowd is not serving you, it’s ok to do your own thing! If drinking is something you’re struggling with, my biggest piece of advice is to remember you’re worthy without the alcohol.

You’re not boring, you’re a wonderful person and if anyone tells you otherwise, they probably just don’t understand. Stay true to who you are and what you want.

I also want to say, there is so much more to people than their drinking habits – we are all fantastic the way we are, alcohol or not.

 

A note from Clo

After a week break we’re back with a bang! A really interesting and insightful article from Ellie-Louise Des Baux! A huge thank you for writing this piece, I have really enjoyed it and hope others can learn from it too!

 

BEING DIFFERENT: Being Biracial – Maya

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health, relationships, Uncategorized

Tell me a bit about yourself:

I’m Maya, I am 21 years old and I have just finished my undergrad in Psychology! As for my next steps I think I am en route into a career in teaching and later educational psychology!

I have a blog which I post on whenever I’m inspired by the world and people around me mayacuthbert.wordpress.com and I am on Instagram @mayacuthbert 🙂

What makes you different?

I am biracial, my mum is white, and my dad is black. Growing up, I felt different to a lot of the people around me, because aside from my brothers and my other biracial friends, there weren’t many biracial role models for me to look up to. I was brought up around my mum’s side of the family, and unfortunately didn’t see much of my dad’s side. My mum raised me to understand that I was going to be treated differently and I’ll always value her for being open and honest about race in the world, and as my friend Bev said, ‘she’s very woke’. She would always try and teach me about my Jamaican heritage as much as she could, be that through cooking traditional dishes, or taking me there- I could never, and will never, fault her for that, and I am so grateful to have had the upbringing I did.

Unfortunately, feeling different lies in the weird discourses there are surrounding being mixed race that you hear coming from other people who are not biracial. It is those discourses that highlight how you can feel different and almost othered by a lot of the people around you, without them even realising that it can impact you.

What is bad about why you are different?

Race was not something that played on my mind a lot whilst growing up. Having grown up in London, and being surrounded by a huge range of cultures, races and ethnicities, it just felt second nature, to have a friendship group where none of us looked the same and where everyone was accepted regardless of the colour of their skin.

I think coming to university has really opened my eyes to the fact that not everywhere is going to be like my school environments, where race is more acknowledged and spoken of. While university is multicultural, there are noticeable groups, in contrast to my school, these groups tend to be race based. My dissertation research confirmed to me that people will typically create friendships with people who share meaningful similarities, and an important similarity is race. I think it is awesome that this happens, because this can really help strengthen things such as racial identity, provide support and mutual understanding, but as a biracial person it can feel hard to fit in.

I’m glad to say that I have found my niche, my friendship group now reminds me of my groups at school, which is great, but initially it was tough. I understand that race is a sensitive subject, so I do hope I don’t cause any controversy, I am just talking about the things I have been through relating to mine- and I hold nothing against anyone.

I think in this day and age, people are really good at applying stereotypes to different races. This is something I have had to face, and it is so apparent to me. To others I have two ‘sides’ (my white ‘side’ and my black ‘side’) people seem to comment on what are actually just aspects of my personality, turn them into racial stereotypes and use them as points of criticism, where I am not allowed to be both black and white, I am always reduced to being either black or white by others. A couple of examples being that on multiple occasions I have been told that I am ‘too white’ because of how I speak, even a past partner had told me that I was too white – something he even considered trying to change within me, or breaking up with me over…I also remember once being told, when I was angry, that that was my ‘black side coming out’.

These comments, and knowing this is how people think about you, can be so damaging to your self-esteem, especially when these comments are from the two groups that make up my heritage (white and black groups), it really muddled up my feelings, and made me feel as though I was not going to fit in anywhere at university because nobody would accept me! It was even more frustrating, because in my mind, I am not either/or, I am a mixture of both and if I were to identify as one ‘side’ or the other I would be dismissing one whole part of me, and that doesn’t feel right.  Those racially stereotyped criticisms really hurt me- because I was being criticised for being who I am. After hearing these things about yourself, you almost start to question who you are… and I’m sure it might sound slightly trivial to some, but I do struggle with those thoughts of like ‘Who am I?’  ‘Where do I sit?’ but most importantly, why do we live in such a modern-day society where people, REGARDLESS of their race, are still implicitly judged based on how they look?

It makes you feel so frustrated because we are supposed to live in a progressive society, but those implicit stereotypes people hold about other races, really highlight how, yes, we may have come so far, but we have clearly not come not far enough.

What is good about why you are different?

I have learnt a lot about identity, race, and society, simply because of the colour of my skin, and my existence being due to the mixture of two cultures. I think this has really helped and will continue to help me manoeuvre through life and make the right decisions about how I go about things such as teaching my own children about who they are.

I love that I have not only one, but two cultures that I get to embrace and learn about, and that I have two places I can call home. I like this idea of duality, where I am more than one thing, and although it can be confusing to manage at times, it is awesome! I am not just black, I am not just white, I am both- ergo, I am mixed, and I love it that way.

I love that, although I occasionally do have those ‘who am I?’ moments, that I can now recognise who I am, what I am here for, and why I should be and love myself, with none of this having anything to do with placing myself within one of societies concrete sorting boxes.

I don’t have to force myself to fit in with any group, I will always find other people with mindsets like mine. I must say I love that about my friendship group, we are a huge mix of races, and yet, we have such open, honest, respectful conversations about race, even when we disagree we don’t argue… we listen, we pull apart our own and each other’s ideas and thoughts and we learn from each other! I wish everyone was like that, because if people could put their differences aside and objectively talk about the issues surrounding race that everyone faces today with such understanding, I’d like to hope that the world could be slightly different.

What is one thing you want someone to take away from this article most?

I saw a quote in a journal article when I was carrying out my dissertation research and it read ‘biracial individuals are both black and white, in a world that only sees black or white’. Obviously, it is important to remember, that there are other mixes that make up a biracial individual, but this quote resonated so well with me. I would love if society could have more open and honest conversations about the reality of race in the society we live in, and that instead of trying to organise everybody into a radicalised box, that we could see each person as their own individual identity, with their own experiences of race and their own ideas and views.

A Note From Clo

Thank you so much to the lovely Maya for this insightful post! As she mentioned at the start she does have her own blog which I highly recommend you checking out! She has been writing some amazing pieces during this lockdown, so it will be a great use of any spare time you have!

The Being Different series will continue again next Thursday at 9pm. As always if you would like to get involved please contact me on instagram at Queen.clo or via the contact me form on here!

As always, stay safe and stay kind!!

All the love,

Queen Clo xx