I’d Rather Be at Home (& other reasons I cancelled those plans…)

“I’m so sorry – I’m feeling a little sick.”

“No, I forgot I made plans already! Rain check?”

“Oh, shoot! That was tonight? I completely spaced, and I’m out of town!”

For a good many years, I was the master of the elaborate excuse.

While I can’t say I’m particularly proud of it, I must admit that such a skill got me out of quite a lot of things that, simply put, I just didn’t want to do.

I’ll also just go ahead and own up to the fact that this got me in heaps of trouble as a teenager when I was caught in said excuses, which was frequently enough that I ought to have been more deterred from continuing crafting these tales…

And yet…

On they went, because social niceties dictated that if there was something I couldn’t do or someplace I couldn’t be, there had to be some kind of reason.

“Of course you want to do that thing, Mary, so of course I need to know why you won’t. There must be something preventing you. There must be an explanation.”

For the record, nobody ever said that. This was implied.

That doctor looked suspiciously like Netflix and leftovers, but nobody needed to know that.

Social niceties can really suck sometimes.

Because more often than not, the simple truth was just this:

“I don’t want to.”

That’s it! That’s all it was!

I didn’t go out for drinks after work because I had no money to spend and didn’t want to continuously politely refuse everyone’s offers to buy me a beer. Worse yet, I didn’t want people to trample all over those polite refusals, buy me one anyway, and then make me feel obligated to one day repay the ‘favor’.

And I said it was because I had a doctor’s appointment that evening.

That doctor looked suspiciously like Netflix and leftovers, but nobody needed to know that.

I didn’t go to that party because I really wasn’t up for a ton of interaction with people I didn’t know that would put yet more strain on my already uneasy emotional state.

I was tired.

I wasn’t interested.

I didn’t want to.

But I lied because it’s rude for me to say so! I’ve more recently learned to rely on such casual phrases as “you know, I really don’t think I’m up for it this time” and “sorry, but that’s just really not my thing – I hope you have fun, though!” Those came with time and practice and maturity, but before I got good at using those as more elegant refusals, I had an awful lot of “doctor’s appointments”.

Because it’s far easier to justify a doctor’s appointment. Everyone has needs and basic health is one of them (and boy, is that a rant for another time), so it isn’t strange to prioritize that kind of meeting over other plans.

“I’d rather be home reading,” on the other hand, is far more difficult to explain. It comes across as rude, so it’s the last thing I ever think to use in polite conversation.

The truest friends are the ones who don’t judge you (could, but don’t).

Just picture it.

“Hey, do you want to come over later?”

“You know, that sounds great, but I’m in the middle of a really great chapter, and I’d probably be thinking all about it anyway, so for the sake of our friendship, I’m going to pass this time.”

This is, of course, the internal dialogue I have all the time – the practice conversations I have with myself hours before I interact with the other person. This is never (ever) what I actually say to someone’s face.

But here’s the thing: once in a while, maybe I should.

I should try saying this to someone’s face. It’s the truth, of course, but it’s also an assurance that while I enjoy and appreciate their company, I also respect them enough not to keep up with some lame excuse. I have enough trust in them to believe they would allow me some leeway, and that my personal well-being is as important to them as bonding time.

The truest friends are the ones who don’t judge you (could, but don’t), and while I am by no means at all recommending that we go around telling our dearest buddies that their dog’s birthday party sounds far less interesting than the trashy paperback I picked up from Walgreen’s, what I do recommend is that we give grown people a little more credit. Maybe they don’t really want to hang out either, but they are too nice to take back their invitation. Maybe they’ve got a pulp novel of their own to dive into.

I ought to be able to say why without fear while still remaining sensitive to the feelings of the person who wants me out of the house.

Maybe we should trust that those closest to us fully understand that our first obligation is to ourselves. To our own state of mind.

To our own priorities. And those priorities don’t always include another wine mixer or networking event or costume party. (And I really love a good costume party.)

I don’t cancel every plan. I don’t decline every invitation to meet up or go out somewhere. But when I do, I ought to be able to say why without fear while still remaining sensitive to the feelings of the person who wants me out of the house.

I’m going to stick with the much more socially appropriate “I’m not up for it right now” as a general blanket statement, but maybe at some point in the future, I’ll discover a perfect opportunity to say what I’m really feeling.

“I just don’t want to.”

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