Listen up. We have a problem. “We” meaning the majority of us in our 20s and 30s, including me. I’ve noticed a theme over the past few years that maybe you identify with: someone makes plans, you say you’ll go, and then an hour before said plans are planned to happen, you decide you can’t go.
I get it because I have done it, too! I’m not blasting or bashing anyone for doing this; I’m just asking why? Why do we commit to a certain time at a certain place with certain people with excitement, and cop out with silly excuses last minute? Why are we so okay with ditching friends and loved ones after saying we’d be there with them? Think back to anytime you have planned something and the massive anxiety that probably came with being in charge. Will anyone show up? Will people who said they’d show up not be able to make it?
I’m not talking about true reasons to be amiss. Of course, health-, family-, or car-related issues are completely valid. But more often than not, its “I had a long day,” or “I’m just not feeling up to it,” something along those vague and flaky lines. (Again, I’ve said those, too, and even so, I have to admit they’re pretty lame.)
Last year, a friend and I were trying to put together a book club, and I was going to host the second meeting at my house. Y’all, as much as I’m terrified of people not showing up, I love to play host. Trader Joe’s didn’t see what was coming that day. I cleared out almost all their cheese, crackers, flowers, and, obviously, wine, and prepped trays of charcuterie until my little heart was content. I had chilled my wine cooler all day for a bottle of white and opened the red to breathe, and you know I had the correct glasses for the correct wines on display. It was going to be a hit, and I made sure the setup was Instagram worthy (as you do…).
As a group, we’d talked the week before, at the first meeting, about getting together weekly, and I’d sent out an email a few days prior to let everyone know I would be hosting week two (my friend who hosted the first week had legitimate plans, so she couldn’t host or make it, which she told me well in advance so no worries there). I let the 10 other girls know to just reach out if they couldn’t make it. One girl (full disclosure: it was my sister who was staying with me at the time, haha) had to work, and another said she might have to work but would let me know. And no one else said a thing. Great! We had almost a full house to get ready for!
Guess how many people showed up on book club night?
One girl showed up. And honestly, it was a lovely night chatting with her and eating as much cheese as I wanted, but it takes more than two people to call it a “club,” I’m pretty sure.
I was annoyed. Even though I wasn’t incredibly close with most of the girls who never said they weren’t coming, I felt I should have received at least some sort of communication to say, “Hey, FYI, can’t make it!” I felt like a loser, and also like they were losers. There were a lot of feelings for everyone involved.
And then I started thinking back to times when I’ve been flaky, and oh, yes, there are many. Maybe not to THAT extent of just not showing up without a word of warning (#stillbitter), but I have certainly canceled on plans last minute and rain-checked my fair share of experiences.
I think in this era, we have communication so easy with our iPhones and Snapchats that we take advantage of it. Even though a courteous text in more advance than the actual day of plans is fairly simple, we postpone it or neglect to send it completely, counting on others to show up in our wake. But since it seems we have this collective problem in our generation, it’s multiple people canceling a lot of times, or the same person not showing up repeatedly, often leaving friends hanging, disappointed, and cautious to make plans again.
I also think it’s safe to say that today’s technology has made us lazier. (Again, us! I’m a part of this, too, so don’t get salty.) I found myself telling John the other day that I didn’t want to go to happy hour with friends because it would take too much energy…
… I know. I judged myself as the words came out of my mouth.
Since when does grabbing a drink and chatting with friends take up too much energy? I mean, who am I even? A sloth? But, when I was considering the alternative, which was sitting on my couch, cooking a healthy dinner at home, listening to podcasts, and talking to approximately no one (except maybe my dog, which, yes, I do talk to her), yeah, happy hour would take more energy.
It’s always going to be easier to text a quick “no thanks” to someone and chill in my own little world. With Netflix, social media, and podcasts alone, it doesn’t ever have to feel like we’re disconnected from the outside world.
But I think, for me, ever the introvert, sometimes I do need to push myself past my excuses to be able to really connect with others and invest time in relationships with people I don’t see every day. By the way, keeping up with friends via texting or social media is. not. the same thing. I try to tell myself it is, but unfortunately, human connection can’t really happen via scrolling through your smartphone.
I think it’s also fine to take mental breaks and have veg-out days or nights. Just like we make plans with friends, we are allowed to make plans with ourselves to have these resting moments. But, when the two overlap and we decide we need a mental break during the very time slot we’ve committed to hanging out with others, that’s when it’s time to remember why we made those plans in the first place, why we decided to commit time to that person or people.
I bet, if some of the book club girls had shown up, they would have had at least a pleasant time getting to know other women in the community. I bet, if I’d shown up to certain things I’ve canceled on, I would’ve made friends or memories to cherish. You just never know what could have happened when you flake out.
Let’s be tougher than our flakiness and stronger than our inner-pull to resist connection and vulnerability. Let’s not be the generation who says, “I can’t make it. I’ve had a really long day.” Because haven’t we all?