Empaths and parties
Hey, I hope that your night out went well and you had some fun. Going out and actually enjoying yourself while working with empathy can certainly be challenge.
I'm in my mid 20s and going out has been part of my lifestyle for quite a while now, and will continue to be. Here are some things I have found to be extremely helpful.
I always invest energy in protecting myself. This doesn't mean putting up walls or staying out of the action to avoid attention, but just creating strong energetic boundaries. It can take time to develop these boundaries to the level of effectiveness you desire, and I have found revamping them every 8-12 hours, or at least every 24 to be more effective. Consistency is important here, as well as noticing the way you feel when you are consistently working on protecting yourself (and so feeling but not taking on other people's energy) vs. when you forget to (and allow other people's energy to drain you). Strong energetic boundaries are the key piece to give you the freedom to place yourself exactly where you are comfortable without any doubts, even if that truly is at home with your best friend, plus developing them will attract others with strong energetic boundaries to you. So you will over time find yourself in fewer situations where the people around you try to dump their feelings on you.
Also, I like to be sure that I am feeling centered before just about any interaction, intimate or with a larger group. I have found that learning to prioritize this need above socialization works in favor of the health of my relationships, both with others and myself. If you are not feeling centered before going out, take some time to center yourself. If you find that you can't, then it might not be a great time to go be around a bunch of people, but that is, of course, up to you.
Another thing to try, which goes in line with strong energetic boundaries, is to detach yourself from other people's opinions of you. This way, when you go out, it is about you and not anyone else. You can go out and cut loose as much and as hard as you want to, or stay home all the time, or anywhere in between. It is all about honoring what you need by distancing yourself from how others might perceive you for it. Empathy can drive us to do some unconventional things, so the best thing to do is own it, rather than live in fear of being judged for it.
This also includes judgement from yourself. It is great that you recognize your desire to fit in with your fellow students in the way of partying and that you are standing in your power by claiming the courage to try it. But, ultimately you will be most content when you are listening to yourself. If it feels right to go out, by all means do it, but the same applies for staying in. Do what you can to meet yourself where you are right now, and honor that, even if it isn't where you wish you were. If you need more time, or you need to ease into a party scene, let yourself do that. And, if you do go out and feel like you make a fool of yourself, there is also no need for judgement. We all do it sometimes. I can't even remember all the times I have gone out, excited for an adventure, commending myself on stepping out of my shell, only to find myself tongue tied and feeling like nobody at a party is compatible with me. The lesson here is to not pass judgement on yourself, to recognize that you felt called to come out, so there is something here for you, even if that is just finding out that this particular crowd isn't for you.
The last thing I recommend is to place somewhat of a focus on making a personal connection with at least one person. You don't need to spend the whole night trying to have only one-on-one conversations or baring your soul to anybody, but if interactions with larger groups are difficult for you because of your empathy, try putting yourself where you will feel more comfortable. It is possible to build connections with real depth with people you meet while partying, so go for it! Just put a light focus on getting to know somebody a little better than you did at the beginning of the night, and make an effort to remember what you learn about them. Slowly building a network can make it much more appealing and fun to go out, without the sometimes overwhelming feeling of putting yourself in a busy social environment, especially if you are around other people who do not have strong energetic boundaries.
I hope this helps, and I again, I hope you had fun and that this won't be the last time you try going out