To accept or decline.
To engage or pass.
Itâ€™s hard to predict when saying â€œyesâ€ to something has the unintended consequence of disappointing people who hold you in high esteem. A recent situation had me questioning whether showing up at half-strength… was worse than canceling all together.
Like many of us, Iâ€™ve lived in different cities for meaningful periods of time. So when I find myself in my former stomping grounds, I often suffer from â€œnever enough time toâ€¦â€ Thereâ€™s rarely time to see everyone I want to see, do everything I want to do or be everywhere I want to be â€“ because Iâ€™m there for work â€“ which is the priority.
Recently, while on one such over-scheduled trip, I accepted an invitation to attend an intimate gathering organized by a friend; someone who, in kind, supports professional events/gatherings that I sponsor. But when the time came, my eyes were glazed over with fatigue, my voice was raw from talking all day, my brain was drained from problem-solving since 6am (to accommodate east coast time)â€¦and all I wanted to do was turn off my phone and decompress. At the same time, I have always had an almost visceral reaction to flakiness, to a broken word â€“ toÂ disappointing anyone. I didnâ€™t feel I could cancel, especially when I knew my presence was important to my friend.
In the end, Iâ€™m not sure that attending was the right decision because the version of me who did show up â€“ kind of sucked. It was a â€œhalf meâ€ â€“ with energy more like a wilted flower than an additive contributor.
You have to wonder â€“ who wins in that scenario? I kept a promise â€“ but showed up on fumes. For those of you with an amazing game-face â€“ you can pull this off far better than I canâ€¦. as I tend to wear my feelings, for better or worse, right on my face. At a big event, I can get away with it – but among just a few people â€“ it doesnâ€™t go unnoticed. Clearly (I mean Iâ€™m writing this, right?) itâ€™s still pulling on my conscience in some way.
I find myself torn between wanting to apologize for lackluster presence â€“ and – wanting a pat on the back for showing up at all.
Is the only option to prequalify a RSVP with, â€œMaybe, but Iâ€™ll be coming off a long dayâ€?
This, and others like it, sound so (very) lame to me, as I judge them all as a half-yes â€“ in other words â€“ an insurance policy on a future copout.
But I canâ€™t think of a better way to demonstrate support and make room for the possibility of yes, but insulate myself from the chagrin of canceling at the last hour and becoming one of â€œthoseâ€ people.
This post requires suggestions.
What is your strategy for conundrums like these?Â Weigh in here. Inquiring minds need your wisdom.