Thursday 23 February 2023

Let me choose to say no

While I'm rediscovering a writing routine, I'm cleaning up my backend, and updating or publishing posts that have sat in drafts for too many years... here's a gem from 2017 that still holds true today.

A few years ago, I had a friend who was about to turn 40. It was a big deal to her, as it is for most women, and she was throwing herself a party. Every time I saw her, she shared details of the party - the fabulous dress she'd bought, the mutual friends who were going, the amazing venue's food. And then a week before the party, she sent me a text message
I know you won't come, but I thought I'd better send you an invite.
I made some excuse about already having plans to go out with Steve that evening, because my mum was visiting.

But it still hurts today.

(Our friendship moved on a few months later, for various other reasons.) 

I kind of understand the reason she did it. When you know someone is struggling with money, you don't want to add to their burden by inviting them to a party where they might feel obligated to spend money they can't really afford.

I mean, I'm always saying no to things, because my budget doesn't stretch far enough.

But sometimes, I choose to say yes.

Because no can be so very wearying.

I can see it creeping in again, people not asking us to join in things, kids not being invited to things, family not celebrating events with us. Because they know the pressure we carry with a tight budget and a big family.

But I wish they would let me choose.

Yes, taking a big family to the movies is expensive, so lets go to a slightly cheaper cinema and all enjoy it together.

Yes, going out for a meal together is a rowdy experience (and expensive now 2 kids eat off the adult menu) so let's go to the pub with a playground again.

I know it's a two way street, spending time with other people, that I should reach out to others more. But eventually, when people say no often enough, you stop asking if they want to come for coffee, go out for dinner, need a hand cleaning up that mess. And that works in reverse, if you say no often enough to others they stop asking.

But don't not ask because you think I might say no, allow me the space to say this week doesn't work, can we do it next week? Or sure, we'd love to come

Because you might be missing out on the best experience of your week by not asking. And you might just change someone's day in the process.


1 comment

  1. What a great post Cate. I can understand why you were hurt by the wording of that text message, she could have been far more diplomatic. People will always understand if you refuse an invitation but they shouldn't assume that they know the answer will be no. There is often a compromise that can be made.


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