All too often we end up being the “whatever” friend.
Let me explain what I mean.
I just got back from a long weekend trip to Canada with my best friends. Before we left, we decided to just “wing it” with our plans. The biggest mistake, in retrospect, was not having a set plan of what we were going to do while we were in Toronto. Normally, this is completely okay. But, something about being in another country with a different currency and set of food, activities, and places to sight see, in addition to cold weather? Let’s just say, I learned how annoying, but how reflective, life is nowadays.
Day 1, midday, my stomach was roaring. I asked the question that can lead to wars:
“What would you like to eat?”
I was instantly met by, “I don’t know. I don’t care, I’m down for whatever.” Let the games begin.
Instant stress. I didn’t know what was around there. We all drove in and saw the same stuff. Since I was driving, I wasn’t even paying attention to the food places. Why do I have to make the decision? Why does this have to fall on me? Fine. Somewhere cheap that has a wide variety. Pressure is on. And that was just for food.
After the lunch fiasco was solved, we were talking about what we wanted to do in the city. Again, I was met with, “I’m down for whatever.”
“Whatever” is not an actual thing. Someone still has to make a decision.
“What about the park?”
“Oh, that’s fine.”
“I’d rather do something everyone wants to do.”
“I don’t care what we do.”
But that’s not true! I know for a fact there are many things they would not care to do. But, instead of arguing, I pulled my phone out and started figuring out what was cheap, didn’t have an entrance fee, was something everyone would like, that could take up some time, and had good reviews. That’s not factoring in driving, parking, and standing in the cold. Soon, we’d be right back to food conundrum for dinner. This was a never ending cycle of indecision.
So, I started thinking, how have we gotten to this point? When did we stop being decisive with what we want? When did we stop thinking for ourselves?
For some of us, we’ve said what we want, numerous times. Then, there’s someone (maybe a friend, significant other) who makes you feel stupid for wanting or feeling the way you do. So, you just stop having opinions on things. You stop wanting specific things. You become indifferent.
But for most of us, we have this inherent desire to please everyone. No one wants to be the outlier in the group, because then you seem too pushy. So, we all revert to this inability to make decisions. We leave the decision of messing up, potentially choosing a bad restaurant, or boring activity, to someone else. We don’t want to feel responsible for someone else’s dissatisfaction.
Additionally, we are the culture hell bent on posting highlight reels of our lives on every social media. Before we can post any picture, we’ve gotta filter it. With hundreds of presets and filter choices, how do we decide? It can be pretty overwhelming. When we have a plethora of opportunities and options at our disposal, sometimes we just want the simplicity of basics. Suddenly, the “whatever” mentality doesn’t seem so out there.
My takeaway from this weekend is to take the word, “whatever” out of my vocabulary. No longer will I default to indifference. If I’m unsure of what food to eat or what thing to do, I have a smartphone and can look stuff up. I can ask locals and friends for personal suggestions. I can try something new. After all, there’s a huge world out there, waiting to be explored.
“Whatevers” can absolutely lead to fantastic adventures, but in everyday life, whatever is a bandaid for inability to step out of our comfort zone.