“Hey I’m really sorry I’m not feeling well or (insert other excuse here), can we reschedule?”
I often find myself repressing the image of a friend receiving one of my infamous “so sorry texts” on their bed in solitude wondering how they lead themselves to believe that this time would be different than any other. The mental imagery of one of your loved ones washing off the makeup that they applied when they foolishly believed that you would uphold your plans is too daunting to digest- so I just don’t.
I have been on both sides of those texts or the call or the notorious black-hole-of time which seems like an eternity as you stare at your phone waiting for your friend to contact you, only to fall asleep wondering where you can find better friends. I have felt the disappointment, the skepticism and the loneliness that comes along with the last-minute expected notification from your flakey friend that they are once again going to postpone. Yet, when I am the sender rather than the receiver, I rationalize that the person who is about to receive my text has an abundance of other options for the evening, all of which are more enticing than spending time with me.
I believe at the depths of all chronic canceler’s minds, there is the subtle thought that they are unimportant, completely replaceable and their presence will not be missed when they suddenly cancel. This lack of confidence cultivates into a lack of culpability which allows the canceler to sever the mental image of their friend or family member sitting and sulking about how their expectations and excitement of seeing you were once again demolished.
We have our everyday obligations to go to work and school, to submit our assignments when deadlines call for us to and to be present at every meaningless meeting; we attend to each one of our formal obligations because we have to. Chronic cancelers, such as myself, need to start considering our plans to see friends as moral obligations; to understand and reiterate to ourselves that yes someone might actually be looking forward to seeing you and canceling last minute on that person will result in someone that we truly care about feeling letdown or lonely.
Chronic cancelers alienate themselves. They tell themselves I will stay in and do work or I need to catch up on sleep when the reality is our night evolves into watching Hulu and netflix, alone and feeling content, when what we really deserve is a feeling of vitality which goes along the interpersonal interactions that we are depriving ourselves of. Cathartic contentment that one might feel when watching the four characters from Sex and the City engage in girl-talk or the excitement we feel when watching a fictitious story evolve into a happy ending is wonderful, but it does not compare to the high that you could potentially reach when you reminisce and laugh with real people over real stories that have really happened to you.
The only thing a chronic canceler is better at than knowing how to devise the perfect letdown text is making self-deprecating jokes. My real friends are Ben and Jerry or Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha will miss me if I go out! But at the butt of every self-deprecating joke is the cognizance to the fact that we need to amend what we broke. Whether that is the plans, the expectations of others or our very own awareness of self-importance that we broke, we broke something by allowing ourselves to believe that you will leave anyone unfazed when you habitually cancel.
Perhaps, what a chronic cancel is a cry for help. If you have a loved one who suffers from chronic canceling, perhaps instead of responding with “I understand” call that person and express to them how disappointed you are as you truly wanted to see them. It is in part both the responsibility of the sender and the receiver to be completely cognizant of both each other’s feelings.
This world is a beautiful place for a reason, and one of those reasons, regardless of what you may think is because you are apart of it.