1. “I just don’t have the time.”
Recently, I was at a hip, secondhand vintage store, and I eavesdropped on a pair of young 20-somethings discussing how much they hate working. The young man used the above excuse to rationalize why he was unable to see the rest of his friends. I found this strikingly interesting considering not only had he made the time to go shopping with this friend opposite to him, but he has allotted time out of his day to complain about his first world problem. While I am a teacher and clearly sit in the lap of luxury for 2.5 months out of the year (which is a poor assessment of any teacher’s summer), I am friends with very successful individuals, who are practicing doctors and lawyers. These individuals manage to carve out time for the ones they love. The flaw in his perception of time is that everyone has it. It is just whether you choose to make the time.
2. “I’m busy.”
Yes, I’m sure everyone’s iPhone calendar is polluted with pressing appointments and red dotted reminders much like a 13 year old’s acne-covered face, but thankfully, the majority of the younger generation has a cell phone to touch base. There are almost too many modes of communication including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and the good ol’ fashioned text message or email that is accessible to anyone, as long as you know your friend’s name. While we are all genuinely consumed with our work at given moments of the day, we are not too busy to keep connected with an individual. To simply say “hey” to a friend or to communicate that you are legitimately unable to attend an event is not impossible.
3. [no response]
This one tends to cut the deepest if done correctly and the timing is spot on. So if you’re looking to frustrate the invitee then I advise to never respond to any invitation, but I promise it is not convincing. If you’re like me, your friend/acquaintance/family member is fully cognizant to the fact that you are more than likely lying on your couch watching an 8 hour stretch of Netflix . . . or you are attending an event that is far more fun. Instead, be a decent human being and explain that you are honestly tired from a long day’s work, or that you have double booked yourself. Life goes on. You are at least providing the opportunity for the invitee to make other plans or find a more available replacement.
4. “I’m tired.”
Honestly, take a nap.
To be serious, as my friends get older, get married, and have children this becomes an excuse that is utilized frequently. Here’s the rub: you will eventually adjust if you go to bed at 11:00 p.m. instead of 9:30 p.m. I can at least empathize with this excuse. As a teacher, I interact with 160 16 year old children 40 hours a week for 9 months out of the year, and that is truly exhausting. Have I absolutely sacrificed sleep to spend time with individuals? Yes. Have I reasonably bailed on someone, because a kid was especially difficult and I wanted to go to bed early? Sure. But it becomes unfortunate when you are flagged as the person who will never attend an event if it starts after 7:00p.m. And frankly, you are missing out on a lot of cool moments.
5. “But I won’t know anyone.”
(Here, the person is probably insinuating that they don’t want to be marked the awkward-person-in-the-corner-looking-at-Pinterest-all-night-while-everyone-has-fun-around-them.)
I get it. I have done this more than I’d like to admit. But I have to emphasize how important it is to be okay with being alone. I learned this from a coworker, who grew up and attended school in Alabama. When she and her husband were stationed in Nebraska, she felt like a fish out of water. She explained that every Tuesday she’d attend a matinee movie and have lunch by herself, and I could not believe how peaceful that seemed. So go to that event in which you may actually only know one person. While they may need to tend to their other friends and acquaintances, sit there confidently or even go so far as to introduce yourself to someone at the table. No one expects you to be BFFs with that stranger, but you will be able to survive that awkward 10 minutes without your friend.
Sure, we have all succumbed to using an excuse to weasel our way out of an activity that we have no interest in. Instead of being honest with our friend, family member, coworker, or acquaintance, we have skirted around actually providing the truth. We were just too tired to go. I know I have even gotten inventive with my excuses like a student might when he or she says “My dog ate my homework.” But as I progress into my late-20’s I find that more often than not, the excuse is transparent and could very well be addressed head on.