While I, unfortunately, have no miracle cures for the dry skin and dandruff sort of flakiness, I want to “shed” light on an equally unpleasant issue: the act of canceling your social plans last minute.
Have you recently texted someone right before you were scheduled to meet so you could cancel? It’s so easy to send someone a message that it can feel like no big deal to “flake out" as long as you catch them before they leave.
Technology certainly makes planning social events much easier. It’s nice to live in a world where you don’t have to walk 4 miles from the farm into town to see if the Sandersons have finally arrived in their covered wagon for a visit you agonizingly planned 6 months ago via handwritten letters.
But just because it’s easy to make and cancel your plans doesn’t mean you should unless you have to.
Repeatedly canceling on your friends can damage your relationships, and can quickly become a habit. Getting a reputation as being “flaky” won’t be great for your social life, and normalizing this kind of behaviour can bleed into your studies and professional life as well.
Here are 3 of the most common types of “flakiness” I’ve seen, and how to mitigate them—either in the future or on the night of:
Flakiness flub: Self-care bailout
We all need time to relax and take care of ourselves. Self-care is really important, and you should always listen to your body. That being said, I see a lot of people suddenly cancel their plans because they feel they need a self-care night—I’ve certainly been there too!
Solution: It’s good to be aware if you’re genuinely burnt out and need to relax for a few hours to recharge, or if you’re just feeling the tantalizing pull of being a little lazy. It’s ok to be lazy sometimes!
But make sure you consider if you really need that quiet night in when you already made plans. If you don’t actually need a quiet night, it’s probably not a great excuse for canceling. Try scheduling self-care nights just as you schedule social plans so you don’t feel like you have to give up one for another.
Exception: Ok, so it’s raining, your body has melded with your mattress, and you’ve started to consider a career in achieving the Guinness World Record for Longest Time Spent in an IKEA Bed. Be honest with the person you had plans with, and ask them if they want to hang out at home instead if your relationship allows it. You still get to relax, but don’t have to completely dismantle your plans.
Flakiness flub: Busy bee cancellation
There can be a lot of things to juggle when you’re a student. But are you consistently making plans and then canceling them because you’re too busy or just too exhausted to go?
Solution: Consider if you should be making those plans in the first place. It’s ok to say no, and in fact, it’s better to be honest in the first place if you think you probably won’t make it. Explain that you’re busy, and offer another date in the future when you have less going on.
Exception: If all the facets of your life have somehow collided on one evening, try to include your friend in the other stuff you have to do. Maybe it’s as simple as studying together instead of going out to eat—there are always alternatives.
Flakiness flub: Going-out guilt
Exam season is a while off, you’ve got a good start on all your assignments, and you have time to go out. You’ve made the plans, but there’s that guilt creeping in…you COULD be studying right now. Should you cancel to stay in and study instead?
Solution: It might feel like you need to sacrifice your social life to be a “good” student, but this isn’t the case—you can balance both with a bit of planning. Your friends are an important support system, and flaking out on them to study probably won’t relieve your guilt. Sometimes it really is better to take a break and refresh your mind so you can work harder the next day!
Exception: If the guilt is gnawing at you, you can still go out, but set yourself a time to be home. People will appreciate that you came, even if it was just for a little while, and you can also get a bit of extra studying in.
Keep the commitment
Keeping your plans is a part of adult life you may not have envisioned when you were a kid—it’s not nearly as glamorous as eating ice cream for breakfast and being an astronaut/dog whisperer/award-winning recording artist.
But building strong relationships with the people in your life might be just as satisfying as singing your latest hit while teaching your space dog how to play fetch on Mars. Creating good habits in your social life can lead to good habits when studying or at work as well!
One last note: if you feel like your reasons for cancelling plans don’t have quite as simple a solution as the ones I listed above, that’s absolutely ok. There are lots of resources on campus if you’re having a tough time making your commitments. Try speaking with a Wellness Advisor if you think you need some extra support.