There is a LOT of noise being made recently, about the ‘joy of missing out’, and the straight-up jubilance of cancelled plans, especially for the purpose of ‘self care.’
I get it.
I really do.
In a way, I am also pleased that bailing on plans has finally found the social acceptance I wished it had when I was in the burning-the-candle era of 15 years or more ago!
I would have given anything, back then, to have felt able to politely decline a night on the tiles…safe in the knowledge that #bekind would guard me against any form of social fallout!
That said, I sometimes wonder if there might be a price to pay for the fact that ‘rain-checking’ now comes WITHOUT the usual chaser of procrastination and guilt, not to mention consequence!
For example, there’s now no risk of a won’t-take-no-for-an-answer friend turning up on your doorstep, to drag you out even against your early-night-wanting will!
There’s no guilt-tripping via SMS as to who or what may be adversely impacted by your blatant act of self-prioritisation.
All of this is great, and HUGE strides for the mental health movement, don’t get me wrong!
My only element of doubt comes from the fact that, from my past experience, being strong-armed into doing something that feels difficult at the time (either by obligation, conscience or an overly insistent friend) is not always the infringement of self-sovereignty it might first appear to be!
Sometimes….it’s a blessing in disguise!
There is certainly a widely acknowledged irony, that it is always those nearly-missed occasions in life (the interviews, the nights out, the dates) that end up being the ones with the most life-affirming, trajectory-shifting power.
If this is true, then the extinction of ‘twist your arm’ might in fact have far-reaching consequences for luck, chance, fate.... and all the happiness-shaped outcomes folded into these movie-making cliches!
I appreciate that this might sound a tad deep, but rest assured...it is based on a very real worry I have, that JOMO might sometimes be a tad counterintuitive.
On more occasions than I can count, I’ve reluctantly gone along with something where the end benefit (a job, a chance meeting with a stranger) ended up far outweighing the initial discomfort of having to override/squash all the emotions, anxiety and in-the-moment needs that seemed so much more important at the time.
I tread carefully when saying this, especially as ‘no thank you!’ ‘Not today!’ and ‘I’ll pass!’ are arguably some of the most powerful tools anyone can add to their self-care armoury, and I can’t over-emphasise just how antithetical ‘go with the flow’ is to today's arguably much healthier 'each to their own' framework.
Even so, I am curiously reluctant to leverage the social acceptance of the ‘polite decline’, to enable JOMO to become my default.
Because as much as every part of my being repels the raucous, loud and un-fleecy things in life...I still believe the answer to my introvert issues doesn’t fully lie in following my anxious-heart’s every desire… but instead in the infinite potential-stretching, anti-stagnating power of the ‘discomfort zone’