I know I don’t normally do this, but I need to rant for a second, or 900.
I get so tired of people blowing each other off, all the damn time. Not everyone feels this way, and I discuss that briefly further down in the post, but this specific article is about how damaging I think it is, socially. Believe it or not, there are some people who aren’t able to see things the way I see them until I’ve told them about it, at which point, they think to themselves: “Oh yeah. That’s totally true.” Broken commitments are more than just an inconvenience; they’re changing the way we interact with each other, as a society. It’s time people start saying “Oh yeah, that’s totally true” about it.
It can be annoying to be cancelled on, or it can bring anxiety to have to cancel on another person, or it can actually be ironic, sometimes, like when you’re planning something for other people to come together, and not one person can commit to it. It can leave you in a state of frustrated confusion. Sometimes it makes no sense at all, until you put yourself into the role of the person doing the blowing-off: it seems perfectly harmless at the time, because you’re just one person cancelling one plan, on one day, where a bunch of other people were invited, and they’ll all surely show up, and the person who planned it will get over it, right?
But what happens when you’re just one of the many people who are collectively blowing-off the plan, all at the same time? What happens when that event was intended to uplift and strengthen our circles in society, to expand our collective consciousness and intelligence, to gain solidarity? Everyone misses out, and the broken plans then morph into a broken society, because we aren’t allowing ourselves to listen to the experiences of others. We all follow the same plan to just not show up.
We regularly prioritize our own comfort and preference, over something that could improve our outlook on others, or possibly aid in understanding something new, all because we think we might not enjoy it or “get anything” from it, or because we just prefer to do something else that brings satisfaction. We already know we will be rewarded for watching Netflix and eating cookies, so we feel no remorse in breaking plans to do that. What happens to our society when we do this over and over and over again, to more people, on more occasions? The answer is, we become accustomed to this as The Norm. We assimilate this behavior into our own social standards, and it no longer is seen as a damaging pattern, because “it happens to everyone.”
And I think that’s where we are. We are letting ourselves down, by allowing ourselves to shirk responsibility, by allowing ourselves to break commitments without consequence, by allowing ourselves to have such little respect for others, that we can’t honor our word that we have prioritized them into a block of time in our life. We turn these into harmless traits, because we don’t care enough to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we cancel on.
Sometimes, some of us sickos love when people cancel plans on us, and we celebrate that we don’t have to actually show up when someone was expecting us at an event, or host someone at our home. It can be relieving, especially when you have an already frustratingly busy life.
There are times, conversely, where we are upset by someone’s cancellation. When we have gone through the effort of honoring our own commitment, even if we were resistant to do so, and now we have to adjust to a new plan because our “friend” found something better to do. It gets annoying, not necessarily at first, but when it happens to you all the time.
Allow me to speak from experience.
Recently (recently can be any time within the past year), I found myself trying on some very specific “shoes.”
I have a lot of friends who are going through the fucked up shit in life, and they constantly say they don’t have any strong females in their lives to help them through it. So, I take all of these stories, and I say “I need to be the one to do something, because I’ve already been through hell, and I found strength where it definitely didn’t exist before.” I want to pass this on to other women who need it.
I organize a clothing swap, in a central location, so more women can attend. I host it, I gather a bunch of my clothes to donate, and invite the ladies to bring their kids if they want to, I even offer to go pick up women who need a ride there. I make every effort to make them feel welcome and comfortable… and nobody responds. The responses I do get are few and far between, which- I understand, people are busy, but the responses only say “maybe” and they never actually get any more specific than that, regardless of how many times I say “I need a definite motherfucking headcount, if anyone is even showing up.” Nobody commits to it, and so sadly, I cancel it, knowing that it has nothing to do with me. Some of them cannot schedule an hour for themselves, because they are slaves to their lives, and aren’t considered people… but they can’t figure out how to get off the speeding train for an hour, so they allow it to perpetuate.
Time goes by, and the chats with women continue, and I am still hearing about how badly these women need a solid network of support, so I approach it like a Women’s Support and Empowerment group. Everyone tells me “What a great idea!” or “I will make time for this!” or “I need this so bad!” but when the invite goes out, I get a shitload of MAYBE responses, again. The ones who said they would make time for it, suddenly have other things to do. The ones who said they need this badly, don’t know if they will want to do anything at 3 PM on a Saturday. The ones who said they think it’s a great idea, are nowhere to be found.
I think: “What the fucking hell do I have to do, to get these women to get together and feel good about themselves?!” I offered to drive to their houses to make them feel better before heading to the group. I offered to hang out with their kids while they were at the group. I offered to change the time to a more feasible hour. I offered to have it be an open forum, where no hard structure was scheduled, to make ladies more comfortable. What is the problem?!
Now, I should mention that these are some very specific “shoes” because some of them had some extenuating circumstances, being in a way-fucking-less-than-ideal situation. Cancelling plans, for them, is probably not a good thing. But that was certainly not the case for all of them, and this trend of cancelling on people goes far beyond this example, with the biggest offenders doing it out of selfishness only. They have found another option to be more desirable than the commitment they have made to you, and they are unable to prioritize you above it, regardless of the fact that their word is at stake.
Yeah, I said it: Their Word. When you tell someone you’re going to be somewhere, you should do it. Even if it creates a conflict elsewhere (that you can probably realistically live with), even if it becomes difficult to be there… you hold yourself to what you have committed. The other person is going to be somewhere, at a certain time that they have set aside for you. Time in their life, which is in such short supply… they have given you some of their life. If you cancel on that, your word probably doesn’t mean shit after that.
The problem is, our society has grown accustomed to breaking commitment without remorse or consequence, revealing two very toxic types of people in your circle: those who cancel all the time and don’t care, and those who haven’t yet gotten to the point of feeling no remorse… they just don’t commit at all, to save themselves from breaking commitment in the end. I almost feel more offended by the latter type. Even when there is a 98% chance they know they aren’t going to show up, they will withhold that information, and let you go on believing that they will be give you a definite answer at any point in time, ever. You will get plenty of “maybe” or “I’ll try” responses, but never a solid yes or no. You will wait until the last minute to find out, when everyone else is canceling on the definite answer they previously gave you. So everything falls apart at once. If that part isn’t happening to you, you won’t recognize how harmful it is, and you will keep doing it to other people.
STOP IT. If you don’t think you’re going to be there, just say no! Say “I don’t think I can make it,” and if it turns out that you CAN make it, ask the host “Hey, is it okay if I stop by? Turns out I can make it after all.” It is literally that easy. I guarantee, people are going to be much less hurt about one of their invited guests being able to go to their event, than if their guests just surprise them by not showing up.
Keep your damn plans. Even if you don’t want to. Make some more plans, and stick to those. Far too often, I hear “Let’s make some plans!” when friends are having a good time that WASN’T EVEN PLANNED to begin with. It’s confusing, because when you think about it, you were having such a good time with your friend, that you offer to have a good time with them again in the future… but you don’t want to tell them when it is. How does that make sense???
Don’t plan to hang out. Just do it! Are you bored? Ask your friend to hang out and shoot the shit RIGHT NOW. If they live far away, give them a call and listen to their voice for awhile. Nothing boils my blood quite like reading the sentence “We should hang out sometime!”
Yeah, we should. What about right now? You’re working? What are you doing after that? No time for a chat? What about coffee in the morning of your next day off? Busy? Really? Every single hour of your day off, you’re busy? There’s no way – unless you’re that crazy-scheduled soccer mom, or a doctor/nurse on call – that you absolutely cannot schedule one hour out of the next 336. If that is the case, then I’m sure we’ll probably never hang out again, until I bump into you again by accident, because it doesn’t sound like you really want to hang out.
I have so many friends that say that shit to me: “We should really make plans.”
What? We should make plans? When? You’re literally making a plan right now, to make plans in the future. Please just make the plan to hang out, and stop making plans to make plans. It’s weird and confusing. Do you want to hang out? You do? Okay, well, tell me when you’re willing to fit me into your life. Every time you say the sentence “We should make plans” to me, it takes another 3 seconds of my life, not including my response and/or subsequent discussion about plans. That’s not fair. That’s a lot of my life that I’m giving you right there. The least you can do, is tell me I get 30 minutes of your life on Saturday afternoon before your better plans (yeah right, bitch) start. I mean, 30 minutes? That’s only 10 times of you telling me we should make plans. (Which you have).
I know I sound like a dick. I’m trying to. Shaming With Love is my style. All I want is for people to look at what they’re saying and doing (and for everyone to be able to eat delicious dip). If someone is trying hard, and continuously putting themselves out there for you, reciprocate that shit! Live up to your word, at the VERY least! I don’t care if you miss your fucking cats and wonder what they’re doing in your absence. If you choose to blow me off when I’m trying to give you a part of my life’s timeline, but still expect me to give you more time in the future, you’re selfish and I have no time for you. My time is short, man, I fucked up a lot of times as a young dumbass, and have practically heard the sound of years coming off the end of my life. I can’t afford to waste minutes on listening to you make yourself feel good. Stop being so greedy, and start thinking about what kind of human you want to be while you’re here.
But don’t think too long; you still have to dedicate time to actually making plans.