We've all done it. It's the night of that event we agreed to go to 3 weeks ago when we first got the phone call or the Facebook event was created, and suddenly we don't want to go. When we first heard about it, the gathering sounded great, there is no reason we wouldn't now want to attend, yet somehow... it suddenly seems less appealing.
Of course, in some cases unexpected things do arise, but I'm referring to those times when there really is no justifiable reason not to attend. What makes so many of us so readily able to cancel plans? I'm certainly no expert in the field of human analysis, but as an occasional "bailer" myself and the friend to a number of frequent "bailers," I set out to figure out why so many of us seem to love cancelling on plans.
Through both self-reflection and observation of those around me, I've identified the 5 main elements which contribute to our love of bailing on plans... in both video and written form:
1. The Power In Laziness
As the semi-popular song by The F-Ups states, "we are the lazy generation," and every year that seems to become even truer. With the invention of at-home services like Netflix, more and more of us are regularly electing to stay home and binge watch rather than go out and do something in the real world that these shows and movies attempt to replicate.
Remind yourself that in this life, this is the youngest you are going to ever be, so there is no time like the present to get out and do something. I'm not saying we all need to start saying yes to everything, but we should be more mindful of when we are letting laziness be the driving factor in a decision.
2. The Illusion Of Popularity
We may not all aspire to be adored by thousands of fans, but many of us, deep down, still do like to see ourselves as a mini-celebrity. I take many of our Twitter and Instagram accounts - my own included - as proof of this. How many of us find ourselves very rarely hitting the "follow" or "follow back" buttons? At least by comparison to how nonchalantly and happily we press "like" or that heart symbol?
We seem to unconsciously (or in some cases consciously) strive for a particular ratio that proves we are interesting and, in a way, allows us play hard to get with the digital world. The same applies for bailing and cancelling; from what I've noticed, often we cancel plans and then publicly state our other engagement, all for the purpose of subtly advertising how popular or busy we are.
3. Saying "Yes" To Save Face
This one goes hand-in-hand with #2, except that it focuses on the initial response to the invitation. We may have no intention of attending what we are invited to, but we choose to say yes to both save face with the host(s) and to add to our "popularity resume."
How many times have you been out at a gathering when someone casually brings up how many functions they have coming up over the next couple of weeks? Yes, occasionally the full schedules can be justified, but I've found that at times we also unnecessarily swell those schedules a bit more than we need to.
As for the saving face element, is it not more beneficial to the host for you to be honest about your ability to attend rather than to give them the false hope that you will be coming? Hollowly saying yes may seem nicer on the surface, but honesty goes a lot further in a true friendship.
4. Do We Actually Enjoy Most Of What We Do?
This one requires a bit of introspection and analysis of the human experience. If asked to describe a typical social gathering or party most of us would come up with keywords like music, food, drinks, bars, clubs, and 'getting drunk.' While many (if not all) of these things can be enjoyable from time to time, I've noticed that the major reason we skip out on plans is that the prototypical social setting can be both uninteresting and taxing on us.
When we are truly honest with ourselves, we may enjoy going to a bar, but the idea of being at one night after night is likely not that appealing. I personally am a strong believer that alcohol consumption (and this is certainly not to condemn it) is so prevalent at least partially because it is popular to drink, not because we actually want to get drunk all the time.
The same goes for social gatherings. We host them and often go to them solely because it is popular to do so, and we now more regularly bail on them because of how much physical and mental effort they require to participate in.
5. Now Isn't A Good Time
This one definitely goes along with #1 except it deals more specifically how we justify changing our minds on the day of the event. How many times have you found yourself pre-shower contemplating whether or not you should go? You think about potential viable excuses you could give, and you think of reasons why it's probably better that you didn't go.
Next time you find yourself doing this, observe the internal dialogue and identify whether or not you are being a salesperson to yourself. Work on not letting your intuitive guidance be blocked by excuses. If you'd like to be where you need or are invited to be, push through the mind stories and get yourself there.