My mom and I were talking recently when she mentioned that something I said a while back has stayed with her.
“You told me that when it comes to keeping social commitments, you’ll never regret going, but you may very well regret not going.”
The truth is that I still think about this constantly. Constantly. I really do have to take my own advice all. the. time.
I’ve become a little bit more introverted now that I’m a mom of two, and I recharge more from quiet, “lazy” time at home than I ever have before. Wanting to relax at home tempts me into canceling plans more often than I’d like to admit, but since those who habitually cancel plans really irk me, I try not to do it to other people. You never know what effort someone has gone through or what plans they’ve shuffled around to make time for you, so canceling can be hurtful and/or rude.
This doesn’t mean that I never cancel plans. Gosh, there are surely people reading this who I’ve had to cancel on before (sorry!) My kids get randomly sick or we overbook ourselves just like everybody does. I’m more so talking about canceled plans just for the sake of not wanting to make the effort. You know what I’m talking about.
So back to that advice. It’s so applicable in my life. In the past if I’ve let a friend down by canceling plans, I may feel bad about it and regret not going (or just unknowingly miss out on the possibility to grow that relationship). On the flip side, putting in the effort to get dressed, get the kids together, and get out the door might be a pain in the rear when you have a million things to do at home, but very rarely do I pull back into the driveway and actually regret going. Whether it was to a playdate, a birthday party, an Army function, church, a life group, etc. I’m always glad I went and feel recharged in some way.
Quick story where this advice single-handedly helped me make a big decision. A couple of years ago I had plans with my mom to fly to Boston for my best friend’s baby shower. Right before the trip my mom shattered her ankle and couldn’t go anymore (Jamie was away training). Making a long story short, making the trip was going to be a lot more complicated now that I would be traveling with Hadley alone in hotels and such. It would have been so easy for me to tell my friend that I couldn’t come anymore since my mom couldn’t help out, and I knew she’d understand. I also knew that even though the trip would be a little bit more work on my end, I would never regret going and would cherish the memories I made by attending. So I went, had the best time, and two years later still treasure that quick trip to see my friend and celebrate her pregnancy. I barely remember the hassle, but I’ll always have the happy memories from that trip (you can read about that specific trip here).
With this advice in mind, I’m working on saying “no” better if I’m invited to something I already know I will not or do not want to attend or cannot make. I think it’s okay to put yourself and your family first by just saying no upfront to an invitation without giving a false hope of your attendance. I’m not perfect at this and find that it’s a continual work in progress! The plate I’m spinning right now is sized more like a salad plate than a turkey platter (meaning there’s only so much I realize I can balance!), so I want to work on saying no upfront rather than canceling last minute (if I can help it.)
I always think back to my bridal and baby showers. I can still remember every single person that was there. With each person that walked in the door, I was so excited, humbled, and grateful. To them, it likely meant little more than throwing on a dress and giving up a couple hours, but to me it meant the world. I always think about that when I get invited to parties and showers. It means a lot to a host or recipient when you show up to celebrate them.
Alex wrote a post a while back about being one of only a few families to show up for a child’s birthday party that touches on this subject of putting yourself out there socially, keeping commitments, and showing up. It’s well written and worth the read!
What do you think of this philosophy? Have you ever been hurt in a situation where someone canceled on you unexpectedly? Do you try hard to keep your plans and commitments?