Throughout college, I lost a lot of friends – or the trust and dedication of a lot of friends – because I had a problem with saying “yes” to things – hanging out, going to a party or an event – and then bailing at the last minute. Over time, people quit asking you to do things if you always cancel. Trust me.
I did this mostly because of mental health issues. Sometimes anxiety was too much that I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house. So instead I’d cancel. Or even just not show up. Sometimes I’d see their calls or texts, and just not bother answering. Sometimes the next day I’d send them a lame, “Oh sorry I fell asleep” text that never covered the apologies that were actually needed.
Now that I’m much more clear-minded and the day-to-day anxiety is no more, I’ve been apologizing to friends for doing this to them in the past. And I’ve been asking for friends to invite me out again. And I’ve been showing up when I say that I will. I also make a lot of plans with friends. Movie nights, taco nights, trips to whatever place I feel like going that day, etc. I like to invite friends to do things with me. And it sucks when people cancel.
I think so often my friends cancel because they over-schedule themselves. Or something else pops up that seems more tantalizing. Sometimes friends will cancel and I’ll see their snapchats later of what they actually ended up doing. And it’s weird that this is the culture that we live in. We’re way too busy, and we say yes to things that we don’t actually want to do.
I’m learning to say yes and mean it. I show up to the things that I say that I will. And I try to bring my full self, be present, and be joyful.
But I’ve also been learning to say no to things that I actually don’t want to do, or don’t have time for. If I don’t want to do something, I just say no. It’s better than going out with someone and feeling distracted or unhappy the whole time. It’s better than canceling last minute. Just say no. My ego isn’t so big that I feel like I need to be at every party, every event, every thing. I’m learning to be selective with my time, not over-schedule myself, and not show up to something that my heart or mind just isn’t in. (This is true of anything, not just social engagements. As an avid volunteer, I’m learning to say no to commitments I cannot make, whether it be for mental reasons or scheduling reasons.)
But while I’m saying yes to the things that I absolutely want to do, but I’m also learning to say yes to things that are new experiences that scare me. The other week, I went camping with some new friends – a couple that I’ve been getting to know over the past several months, and then one of their friends who I didn’t know. I’m not a camping expert (far from it) and spending a few nights in the woods, in a tent with people I don’t know super well, is definitely not something that I jump at. But, I thought about it for a while, and I said yes.
I’m saying yes to things that are new experiences. And that’s so important. With the weight of anxiety lifted, I’m taking more chances, meeting new people, and pushing myself out of my immediate comfort zone. Camping was fun. It was a low-risk yes, but it was something that I never would have done a couple of years ago. And I’m so glad that I said yes.
It’s the weekend and I’m spending my Friday and Saturday nights at home, alone. I had a few different people ask me to do something, but I just said no. My past week was busy, and next week is packed with social engagements. I need sabbath time to be by myself. I’m spending my evenings cleaning, watching Gilmore Girls, sewing, hugging my cats, writing, and maybe getting a little painting in. I said no to friends rather than show up not fully present. I’m taking time to be by myself (as an introvert, I need that) so that I can be present and joyful at all the things I said yes to next week.
How does saying yes or no play a role in your life?