The group think behind drinking

How many times have you gone out to dinner with your girlfriends and been the only one to order dessert?

If you’re like me, chances are never.

At least, that’s how I used to be.

Ordering dessert was a consensus event. We were either all in or we were all out.

You’ve seen this happen. The waiter comes over and asks the table if anyone wants to see a dessert menu. What happens next? You and your dinner companions make eye contact with each other trying to gauge what the table wants to do.

You and your dinner companions make eye contact with each other trying to gauge what the table wants to do.

Now that I no longer drink, I find that the same thing happens with alcohol. Certainly it’s not universal. But lots of people are quick to decline drinking if you’re not also on board.

Why do we have group-think when it comes to food and alcohol? Why do we want our choices to line up?

More importantly, how comfortable are you doing your own thing even if it doesn’t line up with the table?

When I first started working on this myself, my comfort level at standing outside of what the group wanted to do was close to zero. I did not want to be out of step.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t like this all the time. I had absolutely no problem voicing political views that were at odds with my dinner companions. But food and alcohol choices? Those were two areas where I didn’t want to stand out.

The more I thought about why, the more I understood that it really boiled down to what I was making these choices mean about me. Being outspoken about politics was something I prided myself on. Being the only person at the table to turn down a glass of wine made me feel as if there was something wrong with me.

Being outspoken about politics was something I prided myself on. Being the only person at the table to turn down a glass of wine made me feel as if there was something wrong with me.

Think about that the next time you’re feeling uncomfortable about going against the grain. What are you making your choice, and being different, mean about you?