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My Favorite Plans are When They're Cancelled

I make plans with friends that I know I can’t keep, but making them feels so good at the moment. I get a mental high as if I did something right when I don’t even have the proof yet. Words are easier to say than actually showing up and giving them the time of day. Sometimes, all I need is to make the plans, even when they’re only pretend. It’s so easy to say yes. I don’t want to let them down. I even half believe myself. I believe this time will be different.

When the day approaches, I’ll have a pit in my stomach because I'd rather stay inside in my pajamas and not have to put on makeup or a smile. It’s such a pain to get ready and be “on my way.” I can get more done if I stay in; I’m more responsible this way. I’ll say it’s “to get work done” and then get nothing done. I’ll say “rain check” when the sun is out, shining. I’ll say “next weekend, same time” and never check in to make sure it’s set in stone.

My friends aren’t like me. They can’t understand why I cancel plans. They call me a flake. It’s so easy for them to make plans and actually attend. When I think about this, I feel ashamed and tell myself it’s time my words actually align with my actions. Yet, I make more plans and then fight with the voices in my head on how I’m going to cancel. How do I get out of this one? What’s my excuse this time around? I’ll get nervous that they’re catching on because I do this every time. Then I’ll wonder why I even said yes in the first place. I don’t want to go. In fact, I can’t go. I also don’t want to cancel. I’m afraid to speak up but more afraid to actually go. What’s the worst that can happen? Why is my social battery so low? I feel like I have to put on a show.

This is how it usually goes for me and one good friend who routinely make plans with each other every Sunday for the week ahead and then go a week not speaking. We pour our hearts out about how much we miss each other, and then, when the plans finally approach, go silent, acting as if we don’t know each other. An hour beforehand, she will text me saying she can’t hang out anymore. I don’t take it personally because I’m silently struggling with the same thing. I just write, “Don't worry about it” with a red heart emoji and press send.

The plans being canceled give me a sigh of relief like a burden being placed off me. I feel my mood instantly get better. I can finally stay in and not speak. It’s my preferred activity. It’s more comfortable this way. I’ll feel restless, but at least I’m not out in the world. I love not being seen. In my bedroom, I have no identity. I can be whoever I want, and these four walls can’t judge me. I don’t have to brush my hair or my teeth or pick out an outfit. I can get into bed and turn on that trashy show that sounds better just playing in the background. I can order food in and just have to open my apartment door to get it.

These walls can see me eat, every which way, shoving food in my mouth, pacing the floors, doom-scrolling on my phone, chewing gum furiously. They can see me at my worst and still have no one to tell. Inside this building, I’m at home in my body. I can be whoever I want, and the world can forget all about me. So, I’ll stay in and ponder life and wonder if it ponders me. I’ll sleep and wake and wonder if anything is really at stake. I’ll sing, I’ll cry, I’ll think I can fly. I’ll shudder and wonder what happens when we die. I’ll tell myself I had a great day just by myself. I’ll pull the blinds down and go under the covers. My hideout. The plans we make, with every passing second, they fade, up until the very moment they’re about to begin, and you might even grin, but not for long because look at your phone; it’s me, texting you, saying I’m staying in.


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