Facebook event created. People invited. Acceptances and excited notes start pouring in.
And then the declines.
“Sorry I can’t make it I already have plans to go bass fishing with my third cousin that day.”
“I have the exact same event for a completely different person otherwise I would totally be there.”
“We’ll try to make it but since our dog’s cello recital is that afternoon we’ll have to play it by ear.”
I feel like I’ve heard multiple speeches and read multiple blog posts about learning to say “no” and I feel like we’re not talking about the whole story. You need to say no to things so that you can maintain a better life balance and so you don’t give your whole self to other people and so you can just be happy and somesuch and someother.
Great. Say no. And just leave it at that.
I don’t need your excuses. And I don’t mean that in the shitty way where I roll my eyes and place strong emphasis on the words “need” and “excuses.” I mean it like some high school teacher of mine used to try to explain that there’s a difference between excuses and reasons but really they’re the same thing except one has a negative connotation from all of the times we use it to make people feed bad.
You don’t owe me an explanation. Unless you’re canceling for a reason that I – as your very best friend in the world – would like to know about then it doesn’t really matter to me. If you’re visiting a sick family member, for instance, I would like to know about it so that I can send you my condolences and offer you help if I can. And okay that particular instance would be really awkward to put on a Facebook event page per my original example but you can still send me a message privately.
I’m just going to say this definitively for anyone I ever invite to anything (almost anyone, David): Just say no. Maybe giving me a specific reason makes you feel less guilty for not coming to my party but I get it. We aren’t a bunch of 17 year-olds with no real plans except getting high in basements. We’re adults now and we’re busy. You have friends that don’t travel in the same circles. You have a project you need to finish for work. You have children that need to go to baseball practice. You have things to do and so do I and I get that.
You don’t have to give me a reason because your reason doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m going to order pizza around 8PM and I’m going to need to budget for the right number of pizzas.
I obviously want you to come to my party. I invited you because I like you. But I understand if you can’t or don’t want to come and you don’t need to feel obligated to tell me why you can’t come. I will be no less sad about you coming because I know that my party is the same day as your friend Megan’s Botox party. Or because I know that your two-year-old has a pressing tumbling class to attend. Or maybe you just know you’re going to have a long week and all you want is one damn weekend to yourself. Maybe your favorite show just came out on Netflix and your plans involve a lot of binge-watching and brownies and ordering your own pizza.
I like you and I’ll be a little bit sad that you can’t be there but hey, the party will go on. I won’t get all butt hurt about why you can’t or don’t want to come.
I also won’t say OH EM GEE WHY CAN’T YOU COME?!?! when I see your decline post (or get your decline text message or voicemail) without giving me a reason. That’s your own damn business. You don’t owe me an explanation and I won’t make it weird when you don’t give me one. I might say that I’ll miss you but duh. Because friendship.
I don’t understand why we all feel the need to validate our absences. Is this a new thing or has this been happening since the dawn of time? Regardless of whether you decline because you can’t or don’t want to come, your reason is your own and your excuse is valid. There. Done.
So go ahead, decline your invitation to my most important party of forever (or you know, don’t) but do it guilt-free and “courtesy”-free and don’t worry about telling me why. Whatever your reason, it’s okay by me and I completely understand.
And for what it’s worth, I can’t wait to see the videos of your dog’s cello concert or your kid’s tumbling class when you post about it later. I’m going to like the shit out of that post.