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Why Does Cancelling Plans Feel So Good?

Looks like we're a generation of big fat flakers.

26/08/2017 08:23 SAST | Updated 28/08/2017 01:15 SAST
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"Sorry I can't come out, I'm 'sick'."

"In terms of like, instant relief, cancelling plans is like heroin."

Thankyou John Mulaney, I could not agree with you more.

The only thing better than cancelling plans, is being cancelled on. Ah, let off the hook without having to make excuses, guilt-free euphoria. Yes, the level of joy I feel when plans are cancelled is slightly concerning.

This is nothing to be proud of. I'm not cancelling for a noble, heroic or justified reason; I'm not freeing up my time to help out at a soup kitchen or read to sick children. No, I flake on friends just to sit at home, cuddle my fur-baby, Netflix and chill.

I know, I'm an asshole.

Or maybe, I'm just a classic millennial. I was watching Aziz Ansari's new stand-up special the other night and he did this amazing bit about our generation's reluctance to commit to plans with friends. He suggested we foil our friend time as we have serious FOMO (fear of missing out).

We like to have the flexibility and freedom to ditch our date if something better comes along. We offer up all kind of ambiguous non-committal responses when invited to events; 'maybe', 'not sure', 'will try'. We respond last minute with false promise; especially on Facebook where a sea of affirmative RSVP's equates to actual party of less than three.

It's too bloody easy to cancel via text these days, we get out of things without having to face any consequences; we can distance ourselves from the disappointment felt.

Somehow flaking on people has become socially acceptable. And sure, I'm uber-guilty of all of the above, but for me it doesn't stem from a fear of missing out. Rather, it's a fear of being locked in.

Being an overtalkative, chirpy extrovert can leave me feeling drained and brain-fried by the end of the day. Sometimes pats with my cat and monosyllabic responses are about all I can muster.

So I leave saying yes until the last minute, then I can see how I'm feeling on the day and assess my mood and energy levels. I know this is really selfish but we all have those friends that are a little more work than others; the people that rant and rave and make you feel like you're climbing an emotional stairmaster. They're chucked into the maybe pile as it really comes down to whether or not I have the energy to deal with them.

I'm equally wary when it comes to hanging with my pals who like to party. Saying yes to these guys also means saying yes to late-night butter chicken and a damning hangover the next day. No matter under what guise you meet, the night always ends up a little messy.

I'm hesitant to firm up plans with these loose units unless I know I have nothing to do the next day.

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Finances come into it, too. I don't want to commit if my bank balance has recently taken a hit. It's no fun going out when you're broke, scouring the menu for the cheapest dish and shamelessly skimping on rounds. So if I'm skint, I'll skip.

Perhaps it's less about why we cancel plans and more about improving what I'd call 'cancelling etiquette'. For instance, it's too bloody easy to cancel via text. We get out of things without having to face any consequences. We can distance ourselves from the disappointment felt.

So now when I'm tossing up turning up I always try to remember the moments when I've made the effort and felt good about it. When I got out of the house and accomplished something, hung out with a friend and felt better for it. I also think about how crappy it's felt on the receiving end, having a friend text or email and cancel plans.

I know it's not a great habit, and I probably won't shake it any time soon. But in defense of myself and my fellow flakers, maybe we just need some time out. A moment to escape, disconnect, recharge. Perhaps we're practicing mindfulness, we're being kind to ourselves, seeking relief from the daily grind.

Or, maybe, we're just really into the new season of 'Game Of Thrones'.