In September of 1994, Phoebe Buffay, my personal patron saint and the only good character on Friends (that’s true, fight me), uttered an iconic phrase in the pilot episode: “Oh, I wish I could, but I don’t want to.” I find it miraculous. Phoebe, would you like to go help Ross, the world’s most annoying man, build IKEA furniture and complain about the dissolution of his marriage? HARD NO, that sounds so awful.
Much though I would like to think of myself as a Phoebe, I struggle so much with this seemingly simple task - with saying no to things that sound boring or unpleasant or just not as fun as sitting at home in pajamas. It is actually extremely difficult to say no to people, and I have a perpetual fear of seeming cold or unsupportive. I have agreed to attend far too many acquaintances' plays and recitals and parties because I could not think of a polite way to say no. Rejecting people is hard! But you know what else is hard? Putting on pants and going outside when it’s cold and you don’t want to and there’s a whole season of Great British Bakeoff on Netflix that you haven’t finished yet.
So this year, we are going to CHANGE OUR POLICY. This year, we embark on a Year of No. A vague acquaintance wants you to go to drinks/dinner/a movie? No thank you! There’s a work happy hour with lots of people you don’t want to see drunk? Sorry, can’t, just so busy! Anyone at all invites you to a sporting event that will take several hours and have no good food? No, absolutely not, why would they even ask you. You are allowed not to go to events if you don’t want to! You don’t need an excuse to get out of social obligations with people you are not close to! Happy hours are terrible and sporting events are overlong and I release you of any obligation to make a showing at either of them. Spend your time on yourself instead. Welcome to the Year of No.
Oh, and that event you invited me to on Facebook? I wish I could go, but I don’t want to.