Glory be! You’ve been invited to a party, have you? Well, what a positively delightful treat!
You stare at the invitation, introspectively considering the possibilities. Are you busy that day? Do you have the logistical means to make it to the location at the correct time? Do you even want to attend?
You pause and reflect, thinking about how your parents raised you. Manners. Etiquette. Graciousness. And then, you choose a response option from the invitation and send it back to your host.
In the first camp, we have decisive people, who make a selection based on whether they are, or are not, attending the event. It seems simple enough: a binary choice.
You’re either coming, or you’re not coming to the party. Yes or no. End of story.
But then there are the other folks, who experience a paralysis of politeness and are unable to make a decision They cannot commit. They waver and waffle, wither and dither, and decide at last to issue a noncommittal shrug at your invitation.
Some people love to say “maybe.” It’s their favorite thing to do. They float in boundless uncertainty, like bohemian pixies who land anywhere the wind takes takes them. How charming.
But saying “maybe” isn’t as cute and harmless as these little gremlins wished it was.
Let’s do a little role playing. Imagine your host sends out 50 invitations. Now, imagine what would happen if everyone said “maybe.”
It’d be chaos! It’d be mayhem! It’d be anarchy!
People who respond with “maybe” are banking on a bell curve. They’re expecting other, kinder, gentler people to make their decisions in advance so they can wait it out, like the self-absorbed little demons they are.
It asks nothing of the invitees, but everything of the host. “Maybe” requires hosts to predict the future and plan logistics with imperfect information. “Maybe” requires hosts respond with grace, patience, and forgiveness as The Maybe strolls in unannounced, bringing a shitty bottle of wine to the potluck, spouting, “I wasn’t sure I was going to make it!”
Now, I know just moments ago, I said there are only two types of people. But really, within the Kingdom of Maybe, there are three known Phylums: the Thankless Follower (Sequitur Ingratus), the Flaming Opportunist (Opportunitam Igneus), and the Rejector Protector (Protector Adversus Amissio).
You’re the kind of person who asks, “Who else is going?” the minute you hear about a party. You’re waiting to hear your unrequited crush’s name, or that Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jessie, and Lisa will be there. Life is short, time is valuable, and you just want to be around cool, interesting people. Is that such a bad thing?
YES THE FUCK IT IS, you ungrateful bore. Your seat-filling ass should feel lucky you even got invited to this party. This is not high school. No one is popular anymore, so who even cares who else is coming? Make new friends. Make your own good time. Make your own decisions.
Why are you trying so hard to look cool? Can’t you do what everyone else does and just find a mural with good lighting and post some “candid” shots of you looking into the distance in a fresh outfit? Bruh, nobody likes a follower. If you want to go swimming, you don’t need to wait for someone else to jump in the pool. Just get in, you fun-sucking parasite.
You’re the kind of person who simply wants to make the most of your free time. You don’t want to commit to something only to find something more fun that comes up later. You prefer to keep your plans open, so you can maximize your time. Life is short, right?
Hey asshole. The words “maximize” and “optimize” are not sanctioned for use outside the office. Friendship is not a business proposition, you selfish prig. Sure, it’s an investment, but it’s personal and does not require diversifying your portfolio. It requires commitment and trust and loyalty.
Opportunists say “maybe” because they think it will leave them open to something better. But the result is that you’re never satisfied, and you’re always comparing what you have to what you may have missed. So while you’re busy waiting around for the perfect party, you’re missing out on more than the event itself. You’re also missing the whole fucking point: It’s not the party that sucks; it’s you.
You’re the kind of person who knows you’re not going to the party, but you just don’t have the heart to say NO. You fear personal rejection, and from a place of pure empathy, you want to make sure you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings by saying NO to their generous invitation.
Well, you flaming narcissist, this is not about you. This is merely a logistical consideration: Do I, or do I not need to account for your consumption of appetizers and space in my living room? Trust me, hundreds of people will decline my invitations in my lifetime. You are not special; you are not make or break for my night, let alone my life.
If you decide not to attend my soirée, my heart will go on, Celine Dion. I just don’t want to overbuy pigs in a blanket. Think about the food waste, you (va)inglorious basterds.
The next time someone is kind enough to invite you to their party, do the right thing: Don’t say maybe. “Yes” or “No” are both suitable responses, which your lovely host can use for planning the event to which they have so graciously invited you.
Be a friend! Don’t be a foe, flake, or fuckhead. Make an actual decision.