Getting Over the Hump

I’ve been writing this blog for just over three months now, and in that time I’ve made much progress in my search. I’ve met new potential BFFs, given my card to unsuspecting but nice-looking strangers (just this weekend to the girl next to me on the plane after we realized we both went to Northwestern), signed up for classes and social networking sites I once would have scoffed at, and said yes when I wanted to say no.

And then, yesterday, I hit a wall. After being out of town three weekends in a row, I was straight up exhausted. Wiped. I had a girl-date scheduled for yesterday evening, but Sunday night she emailed to cancel. I was disappointed (we’ve been trying to meet for a few weeks now) but also relieved, as I have plans every other night this week.

Yesterday, I overslept. And even after waking up, I never really woke up. And as I thought about the emails still unwritten to the would-be BFFs, what I really wanted was take to my bed and hide under the covers. To scream “No more friends!” To nap for, like, weeks.

I’ve seen this wall coming. Over the last week or so, I haven’t been able to approach my girl-dates with the usual vigor. I’ve shown up reluctantly, and though I’ve had fun, I’ve been longing for one—just one!—night for myself. And who wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t want to be there? Needless to say, my search was stalled.

So, yesterday, when my coworkers invited me to a free outdoor concert, one that sounded like a fabulous outing on a perfect summer evening, I broke my cardinal rule of friending. For the first time since I’ve been on the BFF train, I said no.

Then, of course, I felt such guilt about the no that I spent the rest of the afternoon sending out emails and trying to plan more friendy get-togethers. (That I wrestle with paralyzing guilt whenever I say no to anyone or anything is an issue for another day. Or a shrink. But, for now, let’s pretend it’s normal.) This is beside the point.

I’m usually the first to tout the importance of showing up. After a night with the girls—any girls, really—I’m always happy I went. Had I gone to the concert, I would’ve picnicked (they brought Stacey’s Chips—my fave!) and boogied (swayed, maybe?) to She & Him with the rest of Chicago. It would have made for a great blog post. I could be a step closer to BFFdom (out-of-office coworker playdates are a hot commodity).

But I just couldn’t do it. So instead I went for a much-needed run and got my ass kicked at yoga sculpt. And today I feel human again. Reinvigorated and ready to befriend anyone who will have me.

My most favorite of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood says that the opposite of a great truth is also true. Saying yes is the key to any friend search. But today, saying no was the key to mine.


Filed under The Search

20 responses to “Getting Over the Hump

  1. hb

    It sounds like you really needed to say no yesterday, and that you needed the break. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have anything left for the friends, so you definitely need to do this now and then. Now, back into the fray!

  2. Sally K.

    I ALWAYS have trouble saying no. I feel like i have to be at every event, gathering etc. because my friends would do the same for me. I can’t seem to get over the quid pro quo aspect of it (and also that I just like going out, seeing friends etc!). However, I am starting to realize that it just isn’t always possible. Sometimes you just need a night for yourself (to go to the gym, have a nice dinner at home, catch up on TV shows) and that can be very valuable. Don’t feel guilty, you needed a night off!

  3. Your thoughts about seeking a friend remind me of where I was at with dating this past winter. I had just sort of had it with dating. I was ambivalent. I wasn’t really excited about the dates I was going on (not that there were that many). So I took a hiatus from dating until I could be excited about the prospect of a date instead of going into it thinking about how it was probably not going to be great.

    I also still struggle w/ the whole saying no thing. When I was at my last job, my schedule was ridiculous and I was workign so many hours; the last thing I wanted to do was go straight from the office to a happy hour. So I said no to A LOT of invitations. Probably too many, but my friends understood. Now that I am back to working sane hours, I am still trying to reserve nights for myself instead of saying no to everything. It takes times, but eventually you will feel less guilty about saying no… I still don’t feel ‘great’ about it, but I feel much less bad than I used to!

  4. Sometimes you just have to take care of you, so you can carry on. Good for you. No guilt!


  5. Megan

    “The opposite of a great truth is also true.” Not to get all philosophical on you, but yes and no. In the paradoxical sense, yes. In the contradictory sense, no.

    But, back to your actual post: this may not have as much to do with being introverted or extroverted as I thought it did when I first read it. Everyone – not just guys! – needs her or his equivalent of “cave time.” Don’t have any great philosophy here, just stating what I observe. Which, of course, means that everyone has the potential to understand when you need some “me-time.” (Yes, that’s me trying to “fix it” in terms of your guilt…but I’m not a shrink…or another day 😉 ).

  6. It’s funny–the first 7 paragraphs you wrote, the guilt was obvious…as was the thought that you are supposed to be super-woman. Then, the last two paragraphs were…BINGO! Good for you for taking a breath, taking care of yourself to recharge, and getting back on the horse! Even if you were trying to find the cure to cancer or bring world peace or solve world hunger or fix the global warming problem–you still need rest and rejuvenation!

  7. Jackie

    My favorite line from “Pretty Woman”…Take care of you.”

  8. katieleigh

    I’m glad you took some time for yourself – you’ll definitely be reinvigorated on your next few friend-dates.

    I love Gretchen’s Secrets of Adulthood – and I think that saying “no” can be just as important as saying “yes.”

  9. Good for you for listening to your body and your psyche. Sometimes, we just need to curl inward and nurture ourselves.

  10. I think what you learned or felt or experienced yesterday can be extrapolated into all sorts of real life situations. If employees don’t get a little work-life balance through normal work hours and vacation time and weekends, then their productivity hurts. If parents don’t get a little adult time without their kids, then their ability to parent well is affected. If couples don’t get their own time away from coupledom, then the relationship gets stale. There are all sorts of reasons we must say no or back away in our lives. Instead of looking at it as letting someone else down, I think you should look at it as an opportunity to do something right for yourself.

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  12. Ris

    I also have a hard time saying no (what if they never ask me to anything ever again?!) but yesterday was the same way for me. I’m glad I said no to that exact same concert, mainly because it turned out to be hella crowded and I was so tired I went to bed extra early. I would have been no fun at all, which is more likely to make people never invite me places again than turning them down politely just this once.

  13. Meg

    I see so much of my one-time approach to dating in your thoughts in this post!

    More than a year out from a previous relationship, I was ready to “get back in the saddle” (pardon the cliche), so I joined an online dating service — and wasted no time scheduling dates up and down the block. I cycled through them like a madwoman. Most of the guys were nice but a little too hum-drum, so I just kept going.

    When asked out by someone who at least seemed mildly interesting, I felt guilty saying no — so I went, regardless of how I was feeling. Regardless of the fact that what I really needed, after a while, was some time for myself. And, as you mentioned, I’m sure I wasn’t the most fun on some of these outings… being out with someone who clearly doesn’t want to be there isn’t fun for anyone.

    When I finally stepped back and gave myself permission to stay in, recuperate and breathe, I met my current boyfriend. And that was one date I definitely didn’t have to say no to. 🙂

  14. Eva

    Absolutely!! This is such an important lesson. If you keep saying yes – even when you desperately need to allow yourself a no and a night of rejuvenation – you’ll continue to struggle. You won’t be fully engaged, so you won’t make the most of opportunities. I guess it’s sort of the law of diminishing returns: you can keep going on girl dates, but getting less and less out of them after a certain point of exhaustion/lost focus/overwork.

    Like in college, I always told myself it was better to get a few hours of good sleep then stay up pulling an all-nighter. I wasn’t going to learn anything more in a few hours of sleep-deprived cramming.

  15. Alisa

    At the beginning of your post, my first thought was not that you needed a break, but that you needed a bestie. Someone you don’t have to “date” or be “on” for, someone you can just be with and relax. Obviously that’s the point of your search, but your exhaustion sounded like the exhaustion of searching for “The One”. Remember in that great episode of SATC when Charlotte says “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! Where is HE? I’m exhausted.” You needed a dating break. And you know, sometimes you just have to recharge. Though I admire you saying “yes” to everything (isn’t that from The Rules?:)), sometimes no is more powerful. Yes you would have had a good time. But do you think that by not going you missed your one magical chance to meet The One? Of course not. 🙂 So be proud of saying no and regroup and get back out there!

  16. Abso-freaking-lutely. Sometimes, the answer must be no.

    I’m with Alisa: anyone you really want to be friends with will understand.

  17. Sometimes, a break to recharge makes the next “yes” that much better. Even when it’s hard to say no!

  18. Consider that while you are on the hunt for a BFF, the person you’re with might be, too. And when you’re worn out and not really wanting to be there, are you giving off the energy that is going to want to make *her* hang out with *you* again?

    Totally necessary to have time to yourself. You need to be in good company when you’re alone, and taking time to recharge is part of that.

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