Tidying my bedroom the day after I’ve been drunk always makes me feel like I am cleaning up a crime scene. There is something violent about the objects strewn around the room in the hurry to leave or in the clumsiness of getting back, and there’s certainly something suspicious looking about the way I’ll find my clothes from the night before – in perfect alignment on the floor, as if I’ve melted rather than taken them off.
The feeling that something bad has happened usually doesn’t end there for me. I will often spend the rest of the day, and probably the next one too, running through the events of my intoxicated evening, piecing them together through phone calls with friends and checking the photos and texts on my phone. It’s a self-inflicted nightmare.
This phenomenon, which my friends call “hang-xiety” (hangover anxiety), is something I am experiencing as I write this.
There is probably something involved and psychological to be said about the fact I still socially drink when I know I will have hang-xiety afterwards. Perhaps it is something to do with my blindness to long-term consequences, or my fear of missing out on any scrap of joy during this pandemic. But really, I think it says more about drinking culture in Universities that this is a common problem which you’ve probably experienced, and which my friends are so familiar with, that they’ve named it. Why do we need to drink to have fun? And at what point do we admit that the next day is often not worth the night before?
The strange part about hang-xiety is that I know I am completely unbothered by everyone else’s ridiculous drunk behaviour. I’ve watched people throw up, fall over and get publicly called out by Klute’s DJ for getting off too aggressively, and it has never occurred to me to do anything about it but laugh. The only time when alcohol has really caused issues in my friendship group has been when a pre-existing grievance was brought to the surface by someone tipsy and therefore loose-tongued.
And yet, the nature of hang-xiety will leave me prone to the most illogical of thought spirals in which I imagine myself and my harmless clumsy behaviour as the lasting topic of conversation for anyone involved in a drinking occasion.
I suppose that this is the paradoxical egotism of any type of social anxiety; whilst the anxiety often stems from low self-esteem and self-categorisation as a “bad person”, it also insists that everyone is watching you, that your actions are constantly noticeable, that they occupy a permanent place in people’s minds and that they have the energy to analyse each one of them.
In reality, its not that no one cares about the embarrassingly repetitive conversation you had with one of your friends, or the drunk message you sent, its just that they have been there, done that and probably found it rather funny. Meanwhile, with their own timeline of events to atone for, there’s less time to ponder yours than you’d think.
Image: Alex Ranaldi on Flickr