How To Flake Well

So, you’ve been invited to more than one New Year Eve’s event and a couple of them look pretty fun. But you can’t quite decide which one to go to so you’ve said a vague yes to all of them. And as the days count down and it gets closer to 2016 so the last-minute cancellations/changes of plans/surprise illnesses start to appear as you begin flaking on the events you don’t want to go to. Yup, it’s that time of year – the festive period – when statistics reveal that flaking is at its highest.

It’s not an uncommon phenomenon – flaking. It takes many forms: not turning up at the last minute; texting half an hour before to cancel; getting a better offer and changing your plans; deciding you’re going to spend the day in bed. All of these, providing it involves reneging on a planned social event, constitute flaking. Quite a lot of people do it but they tend to do it very badly, getting caught up in webs of white lies and half-truths as they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Unfortunately, webs of deceit can get a bit tangled and sooner or later the truth will out and not only will you have disappointed your friend by not turning up to their event but you will also have upset them by lying to their faces.

And that’s the crux – when it comes down to it, which is worse – declining an invitation or lying? The latter, of course. And herein lies the solution, herein lies the trick to successful flaking – telling the truth. Yup, it’s as simple as that, no elaborate stories about lost cardigans, surprise tickets to see Adele and long-lost lovers appearing, just plain, simple honesty. It doesn’t have to be brutal honesty – “I’d hate to go to your boring party where I’ll meet only self-righteous, pompous boring people” – it can be sugar-coated honesty instead – “Ah, that’s such a lovely invitation but no thank you.” This might appear to fly in the face of everything we’ve been taught about being ‘polite’ but I think honesty trumps politeness. People are more robust than we think and can probably handle the odd rejection better than being lied/patronised to. We all have a right to refuse an invitation after all, it might not be an actual right recognised by the UN but there’s no law saying we must go to everything we’re invited to. Sometimes staying home and watching Netflix is just more fun.

Furthermore, flaking well is very important in this day and age when people don’t have much time and are just so busy. So the trick here is to manage other people’s expectations from as early on as possible – “Oh I’m just so busy” hours before an event starts that you’ve known about for yonks doesn’t really cut it but “Gosh, I’m just so busy at the moment, I’m finding it hard to commit to things” said a suitable time before the event is better, and also lets others flag you as that overly-busy, potentially-flakey person. So good luck flakers, here’s to 2016 being a year of flaking well. Consider this fantastic video a How-To guide….

MOLI – Missing Out & Loving It

We’ve all heard of FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out – a phenomenon that’s on the rise given the proliferation of social media and all the ways we can discover what we’re not doing. There’s facebook to tell us about all the parties our friends are at but we’re not, twitter to point out all the job opportunities we’re letting slip by, tinder to remind us of all the people who aren’t that into us and instagram to show us all the beaches we are not sunbathing on. The sheer quantity of stuff we’re not doing can get overwhelming, indeed FOMO forms part of many mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Whilst this blog will not deal with these more severe and distressing instances of missing out I do want to offer a simple way of getting over mild cases of FOMO – it’s called MOLI – Missing Out & Loving It.

Suffering from FOMO can be a bit like the five stages of grief – first there’s denial: “I’m not going to Petra’s party but I’m fine with that, totally fine.” Then there’s anger: “Why didn’t Petra invite me to the party? What’s wrong with me, I’m fun aren’t I? Dam Petra and her party to hell!” Then bargaining, “Come on Petra, please invite me, come on Petra” (although this we’re more likely to say in our head rather than out loud). And depression: “I’m super sad that I’m not going to the party, *unhappy emoticon*”. And finally acceptance: “I’m not going to the party…oh…it’s already the next day and the party’s over.”

It’s a difficult process to go through and often very unpleasant. However, I reckon MOLI can be employed as a means of avoiding stages one through to four and getting straight to the final bit, acceptance. Basically, everyday there are literally billions of things we aren’t doing, there are jobs we’re not applying for, new friends we’re not making, partners we’re not falling in love with, parties we’re not going to etc but rather than let these things overwhelm us we can get a little Buddhist on it and just shrug it off – “Sure these things are happening but hey I’ll just enjoy the stuff I am doing (even if it’s just chilling at home watching Bake Off and eating a Mars Bar).”

Consumer culture thrives off making us dissatisfied with our lives – always a new top to buy, the latest trendy bar to drink at, a new clique to hang out with – whilst actively discouraging us from finding pleasure and meaning in the stuff we do do. We’re constantly encouraged to look away from what we’ve got towards what we don’t have. But we can reverse this – we can look closer to home at the friends we do hang out with, the events we do go to and the things we do treasure rather than constantly comparing ourselves to others. It’s a gentle habit we can foster by making a point of enjoying the stuff we’ve got. We can certainly acknowledge the stuff we’re not doing but most of the time that’s fine, why not just let it go screw itself and enjoy what’s happening here and now.

If MOLI doesn’t work one back up plan is IPS – It’s Probably Shit – sure they’re all smiling in the photos and it’s sunny but think of all the stuff you can’t see – Paul’s suffering from a terrible stomach bug and has actually spent most of the holiday in bed/on the loo, Jabrill and Maya have just had another relationship row, Archie’s been drinking way too much again and Marie’s wondering why she got in so much debt for this shoddy holiday anyway. They might be putting on some convincing fake smiles but It’s Probably Shit.

So yeah, I’m Missing Out but, guess what, I’m Loving It. Unlike this woman…