Friends are a wonderful invention. To think you can meet people who like you enough without obligation is really cool. They’re not related to you, so it’s a special kind of relation. They don’t have to be around you, but they choose to. Or, I think that’s what friendship should be like, in an ideal world. Me actively choosing to be around people I like, and vice versa.
Sometimes things get complicated with friend groups. I will give a real-life example. I have friends and they have friends, and oftentimes when I’m hanging out with friends, they will bring their friends and I will have to say hi and entertain light conversation with them, with the group, even if I didn’t actively choose to. I do this because I don’t really mind — I like good conversation! — and also because I don’t really have a choice. For all my talk about how I actively choose and blah blah friends, if someone brings their friend around me, I don’t want to be the asshole who just refuses to converse. That’s rude for no reason lol! And I am not a rude person. The only time I would do that is if I really just don’t like someone’s energy or they’re being rude/offensive. In that situation, I’d just leave, not pointedly ignore them.
But! As I was saying: friend groups.
I’m taking the roundabout way to say that I’ve been invited to a function by who I consider to be a friend of a friend, and I don’t want to go. I already made up my mind that I don’t want to go, simply off the basis that I don’t consider this person a friend, so even if my other friends are going, I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to attend. I should add that this isn’t just hanging out at a cafe lol — it’s an RSVP, show-up-with-a-gift type thing. So there’s my dilemma (or non-dilemma?).
I had made up my mind about not going, but then when I told a friend I wasn’t going to go, she immediately said: “Why not?” I had my list of excuses ready, although really it just boils down to: I’m not that close with this person and I don’t want to go. The two work hand in hand. If I was closer to this person, I might entertain the idea of going for longer. If I had wanted to go, even if I wasn’t close with this person, then I would have gone regardless. But the combination of the two just means I’m saving my coins instead of spending money on a friend of a friend who I don’t reeeeally care for.
But “why not?”, huh.
I’m trying to be more assertive in life. I’m trying to mean what I say and really say what I mean. Sometimes it fails, but sometimes it doesn’t. The more assertive I am, the more I find people expect me to be that way, which helps me get better too. But every now and then, even if I do assert my stance on something (I say stance, but it’s really not that deep, it could be as basic as a ‘no, I don’t want to eat that’), there are still people who are keen on getting me to change my mind. I’m not sure why. Like I said, it’s never anything that deep. “Let’s go here.” “No, I don’t really want to.” “Well why not?” “Because I… don’t want to…?” “But why?”
But why??? Because I??? Fucking said??? No???
It’s not the specific issue that I care about — it’s that clearly my saying “no” means nothing to these people, and that on a whole is worrying. If someone says no, first off, it’s not an invitation to persuade them. You know what is? “I’m not sure.” But for some reason, we’re more comfortable with that meaning “no”. I don’t know why.
–But of course this got me thinking that maybe my friends act this way towards me because I was saying no to things too often and was just no fun overall. That would be a valid reason for me, personally. I sometimes get into moods where I decline every invitation, but I’m getting better at placing strategic yeses in random places so people think I’m still down to do stuff. And I am, but you know, I’m just picky. I’d like to think I know enough of what I like and want now, and if I’m not particularly interested in going to this RSVP, buy-me-a-present event, then why should I? Like actually, why?
My saying “no, I’m not interested” should be enough of a reason, but it isn’t always. I acknowledge that, even though I dislike it. I am aware that sometimes other people are just miserable and they want you to do things and go places with the group because misery loves company. I do sometimes feel bad when I decline an invitation because I know my other friends — my actual friends, not friends of friends — will be there, enjoying themselves. I also sometimes feel like I then need to overcompensate and do something in lieu of me not being able to hang out with them. Like if they’re at this event, then I better be at the movies or hanging with other friends or being extra social so I don’t get FOMO. But even that is strange because I am happiest when my actions aren’t dictated by anyone. If I want to skip this bougie ass event and stay home to watch Netflix with my favourite tea, then I should be able to do that. Alternatively, if I want to skip and see other people, then I should do that because I want to, and not for any reason.
My only reason, my “no”, is enough. My “I don’t want to” is the best answer for “why not?”. It isn’t anyone’s reason but mine, and I say it’s good enough.