Just Say YesWhy are we so bad at showing up to our social commitments?
Why are we so bad at showing up to our social commitments? I grew up in a home that taught me that my yes means yes—meaning my RSVP to an event was not conditional. Yet somewhere along the way, it became easier to approach most of my time with friends with an apathetic “maybe.”
I first encountered this phenomenon in college when my roommate decided she “just wasn’t going to a girl’s night.” Instead, she chose to stay home in her sweats and watch her favorite show. I was aghast! She elected to stay home over the promise she made to someone. The decision seemed harmless, but it made me feel a little disappointed that she couldn’t summon up the energy to go.
Over time, I became desensitized to last-minute cancellations in exchange to do something else. The impact this had on my friendships never occurred to me until I started building community on my own as an adult. I planned, prepped and prayed for faithful friendships. I asked people to walk in the park, come over for dinner or attend a dance class with me. Enthusiasm was high at first but when the day came, there was an influx of texts binging:
“Sorry, I can’t make it.”
“Sorry, I forgot I bought this ticket to a concert and it’s tonight.”
“Sorry, getting home late from work, too tired.”
“Sorry, I decided to take my roommate to dinner because she had a bad day.”
These answers are all legitimate, but when no one can be counted on to show up, it negatively impacts the trust in our friendships. A generation who constantly seeks connection remains lonely. Friendships stay surface-level. Reoccurring doubt sneaks into our hearts whispering that maybe our friendship is not worth someone else’s time and effort.
As someone who constantly goes to battle against the apathy towards social commitment, I have to confess—I also struggle to stick to my yes. So, how do we break this cycle? We identify our temptations to back out on a commitment and push ourselves to dig deep in our friendships. Here are three common temptations to back out:
1. Social Fears
My husband and I were invited to a birthday party of an acquaintance at church. I was afraid of spending the evening alone in a corner because I didn’t know anyone. Thinking I’d be awkward was enough to make me give the commitment-killer reply: “maybe.” I told my husband we would look for a babysitter, knowing I could use the excuse at the last minute to stay home with our son. My fear of being disliked, awkward or overlooked cost us an evening of connecting with others.
2. Personal Comfort
Our couch is often more enticing than putting on skinny jeans and going out. Sometimes, we are just tired at the end of the day. I’ll admit I have canceled plans because it just felt hard. It was my time, my money, my energy, my personal agenda that was being threatened so I chose quality sweatpants time over quality friend time.
3. The Next Shiny Invitation
I have plans with one friend but someone else invites me to something—maybe something better—I can instantaneously cancel my prior plans via text. They don’t even hear my voice quiver as I send some sad emojis to display my false disappointment. When we wait for the next best offer, we miss out on the person already offering to make time for us.
Whatever the temptation to cancel may be for you—here’s your final encouragement: every time we don’t show up, we lose an opportunity for meaningful connection with people who really matter to us. While we sit at home and connect with our TV or sulk because we were too afraid to go to that birthday party, we are the ones missing out on one of the joys in life—each other!
Creating an ambivalent culture towards our friend commitments is dangerous. It causes our friends to believe we don’t value them. I don’t want my community to believe their time and effort don’t matter to me, so I push myself off the couch, put my big girl pants on and GO! I text, “I’ll be 5 minutes late,” but I challenge myself not to cancel. Why? Because your friend remembered you were there. Because a conversation made you feel less alone. Because you made a new friend that could turn into a best friend. Because you simply had fun.
Let’s revive the art of saying “yes” and showing up.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
“Frientimacy” by Shasta Nelson
“Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst
For a more Bible-based perspective on sticking to our social commitments, check out the post “F is for Friendship” at baileythurley.com.
Bailey T. Hurley is a writer and speaker, with a heart for hospitality, who offers simple friendship habits to help us build meaningful, lasting relationships. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Tim, and their two children. For more resources visit baileythurley.com