Have I said too much?
May 3, 2012 2:36 AM   Subscribe

I've recently begun hanging out with a new group of friends, which is great. However, I find myself having a lot of anxiety after spending time with them, and worrying that I might have said something that will cause them to judge me or not like me.

My friends do not seem particularly judgmental (and in fact, actually seem quite non-judgmental), but I guess I worry that I start talking and end up revealing too much about myself, too soon, and then panic afterward wondering why I've said what I've said. This situation is exacerbated by drinking, and I often wake up in the middle of the night after a happy hour and go over everything I've said, wishing I could unsay it, even if I logically know that I haven't said anything more worse than anyone else did. My question is two fold, I guess. Is this feeling normal? I don't remember this happening with other friend groups, although it's possible I just forgot, or that life circumstances were different at the time so I didn't have as much to reveal, or maybe as much to lose. Should I learn to try to be more careful so that don't have any regrets about what I say? Should I continue being open, and trust that things will very likely be just fine? Some combination of both?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD, this is not any sort of diagnosis. I suffer from social anxiety (now under control) and this was a big part of it for me. You might want to look up some more about it and see if you feel that you fit the profile.
posted by rubbish bin night at 2:44 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

It was like this for me with a new group of friends; I found myself asking all the same questions that you have here! A year later, most of the anxiety is gone, and I think the solution was to spend time with them both as a collective and other times individually (I'm more comfortable with the latter, but the context might be different here).

You might have to ease yourself into it, realizing that for the most part your new friends will probably be just the same, individual friends within are also adapting to you, learning from your patterns, quirks, etc. It's a normal to have this sense of vulnerability in revealing certain aspects; perhaps you're feeling more anxious than normal because you like these friends a lot, just got to know them and are afraid that you'll somehow lose them?
posted by wallawallasweet at 3:07 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, it is normal to be worried - but it is not healthy.

You must find out with yourself whether you trust these people. If they are your friends, you should trust them. This is important, because this trust allows you to say to yourself, "If there was a problem here, they would let me know".

And since they aren't, it follows that there isn't a problem - which means you're doing alright.

Just relax. Let the calm descend on you.
posted by DemographicLanguage at 4:29 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Totally normal. You want them to like you because you like them. The natural companion to that goal is anxiety about whether they like you. I see this as no different than early dating jitters. Inside you are saying "LIKE ME!!", but you are cool and have to play it so.

When you add alcohol to the equation, what we call a "shame cloud" emerges the morning after. Alcohol helps you let down your guard, making it more difficult to curate exactly what to say. Then you curse yourself for letting your guard down and feel embarrassed. The key here is not to let yourself go over everything said or unsaid. These people are hanging out with you because they like you. Are you judging them as much as you are judging yourself? No, and they aren't judging you so harshly either. Bring reality back into your thoughts. Think about the fun. If need be, go easy on the alcohol until you feel a little more secure.

One caveat: If this continues and is out of the norm for you, maybe you all are not a great fit for best buddies. Sometimes the more important measure is not if you like them but whether you like yourself when you're with them.
posted by Katine at 5:11 AM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

You're not weird. I won't say everybody has this issue (some people are just naturally very relaxed), but it's common. I know I used to have it. The thing that finally helped me get over it was this:

Just imagine one of these new friends of yours lying awake at night, mentally groaning at the things (s)he said to you, wondering if you're going to hate him/her forever, worrying you're thinking they're an idiot, a complete fool, fearing you're secretly laughing at them behind their back. No need for that kind of crazy thoughts, right? You'd never think stuff like that. You understand what it's like. Plus you've got much more important things to worry about... like your own issues. Right?

There you go.
posted by Skyanth at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2012

It's probably largely an inside-of-head/outside-of-head thing. The enormously awkward things you're afraid you let slip? They probably didn't even notice, and have absolutely no idea you thought they were big bombshells. I have social anxiety issues too, and I'm occasionally really skittish about talking about all kinds of things that, ultimately, nobody thinks is really a big deal. So unless something you said or did actually comes back to haunt you, you can probably relax.

As to your question, be who you want to be. If letting people know certain things makes you uncomfortable, then don't do it. It's unlikely, unless your new friends are a lot more sensitive or you're a lot cruder than your question makes it out to be, that you're actually skeeving them out, so the real concern here would seem to be more what you're comfortable with.
posted by jackbishop at 8:39 AM on May 3, 2012

I'm also not at all trying to diagnose you as having something, but this is how I feel and I have an anxiety disorder. This feeling increased when I moved to a new city. Alcohol is a social lubricant but sometimes it was jamming me up,

What works for me most is continuing to be myself and actually drinking less. I also stopped sharing thing with people I wasn't sure about until I was sure.
posted by sm1tten at 9:36 AM on May 3, 2012

If the "situation is exacerbated by drinking," see what happens when you arbitrarily cut your consumption in half. My guess is everything will be a whole lot easier.

It never seems like a good idea to shut yourself down to fit in, so keep on being who you are-- and if people don't like you, you simply aren't compatible and that's their problem. Find your real friends and let everyone else go.
posted by doreur at 10:04 AM on May 3, 2012

What helped me be more at ease in social situations with the popular, WASPy crowd was to take a few breaths and pretend I was at ease until I actually felt at ease. You may find that reading Goleman's Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence books helpful as you navigate this social hierarchy. (Tip: befriend the leader and his/her minions before going for the outliers in the group. If one influential person is on your side, you're golden.)
posted by lotusmish at 11:32 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is essentially the freshman year college experience. Well, at least for me it was.

Most of us want, no, need to feel accepted and appreciated by other people. The worries you are describing are protective thoughts and feelings. They are trying to safeguard you from potential disappointment and rejection. While embarrassment, shame and the feeling of being judged might seem devastating things to you right now, you won't do yourself any favors by trying to avoid them at all costs. You'll end up missing out on many pleasant experiences as well.

You are a lot stronger than your mind gives you credit for. After all, many of the mind's safeguards are formed early in life, when we don't yet have the emotional maturity and flexibility of adults. But you are presumably an adult, and I recommend you take the calculated risk that you might, against all odds, say something stupid that will make others think less of you.

I promise you will survive those occasions. If you make a mistake, you will be given the chance to apologize or to offer an explanation. Even if you somehow mess things up badly, you will likely be forgiven. The worst thing that could happen is nowhere near as bad as your mind is letting you believe. Embarrassment fades, misunderstandings are set straight and life goes on.

Think about it. When you are out with your friends, are you running a commentary in your head detailing all the things the other people are doing and saying wrong? Are you constantly looking for opportunities to judge others? Do you keep a mental score of all the social gaffes your friends are making? Or are you generally sympathetic towards others, assuming good will and interpreting other people's actions favorably? Do you sometimes let odd remarks slide knowing that people don't always communicate effectively despite their best intentions?

I think you can trust that any people you'd want to associate with in the long term will not be out to get you but to actively like you. Relax, don't buy into everything your mind tells you and don't hesitate talking to a professional if you think it might help (My experience is that it likely will). Be reasonable with the booze, though.
posted by Orchestra at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2012

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