I’ve been noticing this growing, hard-to-pin-down frustration in myself and many of my friends over the last decade. We like to blame our phase of life for most of it, I think; being busy and over-committed is just a part of young adulthood, isn’t it?
Here’s my take on it, though. The bulk of our frustration stems from one little bitty thing:
(The Maybe Button)
I remember when Facebook was new and events were starting to pick up popularity, we all thought this was such a great thing! It was this polite way to RSVP when we weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it; rather than turning down something we wanted to do because we couldn’t make a solid commitment, or saying “yes” to save our spot but looking like a flake when it didn’t work out, we had this awesome way to show our intentions! The invitation, the event, and in turn its sender are important to us, we desire to attend, but we are also not flakes, and wouldn’t dare insult you by committing only to stand you up.
In reality, how this option has played out over the last 10+ years is that we’re simultaneously incapable of fully committing to ANYTHING and OVERcommitted!
To quote my brilliant husband, “It’s weird how our sincere efforts to be as nice as possible result in a lot of frustration and exhaustion“
That’s exactly what has happened. And it’s not just those of us making these wishy-washy non-committments who are affected. It’s exhausting to give or receive “Maybe.”
There are jokes that maybe means no (except about 30% of the time when it really means maybe), and No is the new “Screw You.”
So there’s this new passive aggressive decibel of communication now where we worry about giving a sincere “no” without leaving a note to explain our reasons, and hoping the reasons we give sound valid enough without coming across as too defensive and therefore insincere, and we worry about giving a solid “yes” because we fear something better, more appealing, more interesting, or with people we like more popping up between the date of RSVP and the actual event. This is called FOMO- Fear Of Missing Out.
We didn’t have FOMO nearly as much back when things either popped up spontaneously through word of mouth invitations at work or school, or long-in-advance mailed paper invitations with enough time to account for the post office both ways, and RSVP cards with only TWO options!
So because we are all both the initiators and the respondents to invitations in this generation, we find ourselves exhausted. We’re overwhelmed with options, events, hundreds and thousands of “friends” at our fingertips, all making us feel like we should feel more connected with all these options, yet feeling just busy and unknown.
Then there’s that other, really big part of the frustration. We constantly feel like everyone we are connected with also has FOMO, and we in turn feel as though we are endlessly fighting to win a contest against an unknown number of people and passions for our friends’ time and energy.
This can make us wonder if that “maybe” is our friend hoping something better than us could still come along, if perhaps we are the backup plan, the last resort. It can also make us feel like we didn’t “make the cut” whenever someone turns that maybe into a no for anything less than a funeral.
Then there’s just matters of courtesy. That darn Maybe button has caused us to feel completely at ease to not decide WHAT we’re going to do until the last moment, sometimes even after the event has started if it’s acceptable to show up late. What a chaotic existence! We’ve been acculturated to believe that this is a LUXURY! We’ve learned the delusion that not having to know what we’re doing next week, tomorrow, even later tonight is empowering us against our constant feelings of busy-ness and overcommitment.
Well I’m here to tell you that we are NOT empowering ourselves or anyone else when we say Maybe.
We aren’t being kind, or polite, softening the blow of a rejection or making someone feel like they matter.
We’re telling our friends they’re on our list, but we haven’t decided how high up yet.
We’re leaving them in limbo, rejecting or “maybe-ing” their own friends who fall lower on their list than ourselves until we deign to give them a solid answer.
We’re forcing them to pester us and risk annoying us to get a clear confirmation so that they don’t figure out when half the day is gone that they’ve been blown off, and we’re robbing them of being able to feel hurt or offended because we never actually committed in the first place.
We are reserving seats in our friends’ lives over and over and over, and leaving them empty time after time, only to request another reservation to “make up for it”.
…and we need to stop.
WE NEED TO STOP!
We are ALL guilty of participating in both sides of this sick, frustrating, flaky dance and it is ruining our relationships, and metastasizing into every other part of our lives.
So how can we fix this?
“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
I suspect Jesus may have anticipated this Millennial generation and our internet maybes when he said this in Matthew 5:37. And regardless of your religious affiliations or lack thereof, you can’t deny that this little chunk of advice is WISDOM.
And as far as I can tell, that really is the answer; think about it- if we stop with the “maybes” and commit to a yes or a no in all things, we can still change our minds, but we will have a better grasp on LIFE!
If we start saying YES or NO, we will realize how many things we try to juggle, how we are becoming over-committed. When we say Maybe, we try to make it to several things just for a bit, and ultimately enjoy none of them– it’s like the opening scene of 27 Dresses every dadgum weekend.
And for myself, I would rather receive a 5 solid “No”s in a row and one TRUE “Yes” than 6 “Maybes” and 6 times I can’t count on anything.
If you find yourself struggling to say No, even when you know you should, we can help! Contact us for coaching, or check out Love & The Art Of Saying No
by Legacies Coach Amy Copeland at artofnobook.com