It’s 10 o’clock Friday night. I’m standing in a sea of discarded clothes, wearing the 99th outfit I’ve tried on. Kiss FM is getting me geared up. I’m weighing up the options of saving money by wobbling around the underground in heels, or fucking-it and ordering an Uber. I’ve got that unbeatable friday night feeling, ready to dance and drink the troubles of the week away; a night I may not remember with the people I won’t forget xoxoxo
And I’m lying. Although it really is 10 o’clock on a Friday night, my room really is trashed and I really am dressed up, I’m not going out. Because every single one of the people I was supposed to be having a great night with have cancelled on me last minute.
I’m sure you’re aware of the intricacies of flakey friend behaviour:
- Sudden avoidance / silence on the topic of the plan
- Beginning the light hinting; usually of sickness, tiredness, or some warning of potential plan ruiner i.e family emergency or third party you couldn’t possibly confront
Then, as the time nears, whether it be hour or minute before, they continue with an obviously very, er, believeable lie, something along the lines of
- Argh so annoying but I am waiting to see what’s going on because someone is coming to fix my cat flap and they’re running late and I really can’t leave the house without someone fixing my cat flap but I’ll still come if the cat flap fixer arrives in time
- I’m sooooooooo sorry but I’ve had a headache/been tired all week and I really don’t want to go out now honestly I’m so sorry for flaking sorry
This is beginning to be such a regular occurrence in my life, that I’m hardly phased. Sometimes I’ll be super excited for a party, event or meet up, and then everyone will cancel, and I’ll be so disappointed that I’ll sulk and get a takeaway and maybe have an imaginary rant at them in my head. Sometimes I’ll be so eager to carry out the plan that I’ll go out alone, surely bumping into someone I know or know of and joining their party.
Tonight, I can’t be arsed for a sulk or a totally empowering act of independence. Because I wasn’t bothered about the actual act of going out or even FOMO. I just wanted to have fun with those particular people.
Sadly, I’m in no position to stand with my arms crossed and my brows furrowed exclaiming, “I HATE PEOPLE THAT CANCEL”, because, I too, am shamefully, seasonally notorious for it.
I wouldn’t like to think of myself as a flakey person. In all honesty, I’m just kind of selfish. When I make a plan, I’m never making it while consciously thinking, “nah, that’s not going to happen”. I make it whole heartedly believing that I will be there, happy and willing, at the propositioned time.
But when the date and time comes and I’m just not feeling it, I cannot under any condition enthuse myself into carrying out the activity that I have planned, whether it be a full blown party or a casual coffee. Because honestly, somedays I just do not want to speak to any humans. I’m hoping you can somewhat relate.
I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a generational problem. The idea of a “plan” seems to have faded and shape shifted into more of a very “light suggestion” rather than an almost concrete scheduled arrangement. I’d say less than half of the social plans I make actually go ahead. I cancel on friends, friends cancel on me, in a never-ending inoffensively unreliable cycle; and I’m actually starting to get really fucking bored of it.
So why does flaking happen so often?
There’s no escaping the fact that we are the iPhone generation. There’s a lot of things I’d do or say in a text that I wouldn’t as easily say in real life. For a lot of people, confronting someone in a text is a lot easier than confronting the same person face to face, and I think the same goes for plan cancelling. When I’m flaking, it’s rare that I feel confident and relaxed enough in my decision to actually call the person – like, actually say with my actual voice, “I can’t come”. Sometimes, I’ll even be a proper weak bitch and ignore phone calls, resulting in a text return of “Sorry was in the other room, I can’t come… etc etc”. Getting out of a plan is now as easy as a few taps of your finger tips. You can even completely avoid any anger or confrontation about it by turning your phone off! Yay!
There’s also the constant access we have to each other. We can basically strategically map out when the best time to cancel would be: leading the person on enough for them to believe your excuse while also kindly leaving them with enough time to make other plans on their own. You can also immediately cancel while caught up “in the moment” of your excuse using your phone, i.e, “OMG I just fell over and cut my knee and it really hurts, I want to go home and go to bed sorry”.
Imagine for a second what it would be like if we couldn’t use our phones or laptops or tablets to cancel. Imagine if the plan was made, and the next time you’d be able to talk to the person was at the chosen time you planned to see each other. It’s highly unlikely that you just wouldn’t turn up, leaving them stood up with an unavoidably completely ruined day or night. You’d feel too guilty. Technology gives us way too much opportunity to cancel.
A second potential problem is our overwhelming 2016 life #goals. I am definitely guilty of over scheduling, truly believing at the time of planning that I can fit it all in. Truthfully, I’m easily exhausted, physically and emotionally, and after seeing one person for a lunch date, the thought of seeing another friend for a coffee has the potential to send me into an adult temper tantrum. We push ourselves to achieve social enlightenment; seeing as many friends and doing as many fun, Instagram worthy things as possible, when as human beings we have other needs greater than social.
And then there’s another issue, one that we are all guilty of avoiding and sugar coating – social anxieties. We are the anxious generation, with social anxiety playing a huge part in our lives, and not just the cliche “geeky” among us – People that you maybe wouldn’t necessarily expect to suffer from social anxiety are indeed often crippled by it.
I could be described as confident; I “cool”, “fun” friends. I’m a model. I’ve worked in nightclubs. I’m alright at public speaking. I can scrub up alright, too. But there have been many, many nights, that I have cancelled on a plan because I couldn’t bare to be around people, didn’t like any of my clothes, felt too fat, too ugly, too sad, to go out and pretend to be happy.
And nine times out of ten, when I’ve cancelled, I haven’t explained that to the person. I’ve said I don’t feel well, I’m tired, or something has come up. Because, well, it’s easier than people seeing the cracks in the perfect picture we all paint of our lives, and thinking you’re a sad, imperfect freak who can’t handle a night out.
Sometimes, I myself am shocked by the sudden surge of these moods. Sane, rational me tells me I’m being crazy and that this side of me is stopping me from enjoying life. Of course, insane, irrational me doesn’t care, turns her phone off and happily jumps into bed with Netflix and vegan dessert.
I’m working on it. Slowly but surely, the amount that I flake for this reason is diminishing. Although, it’s funny – before I began to see the problem in myself, I never considered others feeling the same. I either believed their excuses, or assumed they genuinely couldn’t be bothered to spend time with me. Now that I’m honest to myself about my feelings, I can see it in other people. Now, when my best friend gives me a weird hint at an excuse I ask out right if he’s ok and if he’s cancelling, to which he’ll reply with the true reason for his flaking, which I can almost always relate to.
Our generation, anxious and flakey, also has a big problem with honesty. Excuses are really boring. Be honest when you make the plan, i.e I’m not sure how I’ll feel that day, or be honest at the time, i.e I don’t feel like going out. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally find it difficult to be angry at an honest person. Even if my night has been ruined. And who knows, being honest with yourself may also help to cure yourself of the social struggle. Whether you’re happy out with your friends or happy alone, just be happy.