Take it to the group chat

What does “!!” really even mean?

The moment I walk home from a date, my mind becomes a whirlwind of anxiety and self-doubt. Regardless of how well it went, I hyper-critically read into every single second of the last few hours. Should I have responded like that? Why did I make that face? That joke wasn’t even funny! Oh god, what does this react mean? Left to my own devices, I convince myself things are already doomed.

In small doses, self-doubt can be fine, and can even help keep us in check. But moderation has never been my strength. My ADHD brain just moves too quickly to recognize when things are going too far. Something small like post-date anxiety can keep me up at night, assessing everything I did, making me feel bad about myself. A simple nervous knot in my stomach would shift into a pit, and before I knew it, I couldn’t leave bed.

No matter how hard I’ve tried, my brain will never allow me the simple luxury of chilling out on its own. Journaling has made my life notably better, but its one-sided nature doesn’t provide the reassurance I need when my self-esteem starts to tremble. Baxter is a great listener, but sometimes I need more than a bark and a head tilt.

Recently, my post-date-jitters began trickling into a group chat with friends meant to lift each other up during workouts. In "Accountabilibuddies" (it’s a great name, hush), we'll send each other selfies from the gym, pictures of healthy meals, and, yeah, the occasional "oh my god I shouldn't have sent that text, she's probably deleted my number."

Okay, I’ll own it, that last instance is exclusively me. But when it does happen, I get immediate feedback from my friends and reminded that it’s all in my head. Any woes are calmed by people who not only know me, but know how to navigate my anxiety and bring it to a halt. No matter what the topic, there's one unspoken rule: “Accountabilibuddies” is a bummer-free zone, and every message is met with the radiance of loving friends who are always a few taps away.

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are great ways to keep people updated on where you're at in life, but they're antithetical to the intimate conversations that connect us—they often perpetuate the loneliness we're trying to dodge. A group chat with 4 to 6 people doesn't create that problem. In my group chats, I’ve found a place to freely express my most vulnerable self without unloading all my fears and anxieties on the world. And yeah, that’s a lot more emotional labor than any of us signed up for when we decided to start sharing workouts pics with each other. But out of that, “Accountabillibuddies” has become a space where we can all be ourselves without any judgement.

You don't have to use group chats as a way to stick to your resolutions or vent about dating woes to reap the benefits. I have group chats to stay updated on how my younger brothers are doing, workshop tweets, and even a Sagittarius Support Group . Really, it doesn't matter what the intent of your group chat is, as long as you're using it to build and maintain connections with those who matter most to you. Sure, your phone might buzz a bit more throughout the day (you can always mute the chats and check at your own leisure), but a bit of distraction is a fair trade-off for an always-around support group of the people who know you best.

In the News

How to Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ on Your Phone (While Still Letting Important Calls Through)

I always have my phone on silent, and almost always use “Do Not Disturb” while I’m at work or out with friends. Only going as far as turning Do Not Disturb makes you run the risk of never getting an urgent call or text. As Whitson Gordon points out, in a few minutes you can set up filters that let you keep Do Not Disturb on while making sure the important people in your life can reach you.

Lisa's 24-Hour Product Diary: Inconsistency Is Key

I don’t wear makeup (though a good contour does make my cheekbones pop) and my skincare routine is a constant disaster, so I like Lisa’s take here—maybe consistency isn’t your strongest trait, but that’s fine! Life is inconsistent, and it doesn’t mean your quality of life is going to suddenly drop. Keep at it.

Something Nice

Return of the Mack: The Playlist: There are few things a good hip-hop or R&B track can’t brighten. This Spotify playlist has everything from Pop Feast and Luniz to Fabolous and Salt-N-Peppa. It’s somehow both the ultimate pre-date motivator and a great way to wind down after a long day.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions for future issues, feedback, or just want to say hello, drop me a line on Twitter.

My thanks to Daniel Varghese for editing this issue.