It’s Friday. That means the weekend is coming up but it also means that lots and lots of people will be spending their time out at restaurants, bars, clubs, social gatherings, what have you. Most weekends, and some weekends, I’ll get asked to go out somewhere. And, most of the time, my answer is “No, I can’t go out today”. It gets met with a lot of “why not?”, “booo”, and “you’re no fun”. Yep, I know. But there is a good reason why I choose to stay in or why I just can’t make that midday, midweek coffee.
So, what do I mean when I say, “No, I can’t go out”?
Oof, this one is a loaded question.
Let’s break this down into three categories physical, mental, and workload.
First up to bat…physical.
Well, as tasty as that might look I can’t eat it. That’s the first problem. Physically, most of the cheap 10 to 20 dollar food places I won’t be able to eat a single thing at. No Chinese takeout, no sushi places (that’s a bummer), no pizza places, no burger joints, nada. The problem is that most of those places don’t use fresh, real, or preservative-free ingredients in their meals. A lot of the stuff is canned, packed with additives, and all dressed up with stuff I can’t ingest to extend its shelf life and reduce its cost. Five dollar burgers are five bucks for a reason. That being said, there are select places I can go to eat without getting sick. High-end restaurants and restaurants that use only natural ingredients and cook everything (sauces and dressings included) give me the opportunity to pig out on whatever I like.
But those are few and far between.
Now, if I say I can’t go out some people tell me to just order a salad, assuming that I”m watching my figure. Well, why would I go to a burger joint, watch everyone eat something I want to eat, and eat a salad without any dressing or croutons (because that stuff is a BIG no-no)? Oh, and pay a lot of money for that naked salad that I can make for three dollars at home.
Well, when I phrase it that way…I sound mean.
In all honesty, I can’t eat out. And if I go to eat out, I’ll have to get a sad little salad and some places don’t even offer that. That sucks. Then I just sit there with my water, because I don’t drink, and look silly. Then come all the questions. Are you vegan? Why aren’t you eating? Only a salad? You’re such a picky eater! You need to eat more. You used to eat like a truck driver.
OH my LORD. Stop. First, you bug me to come out, then grill me about my food choices? Yikes.
Granted this is not always how it happens. Some people, like my family, are really good about understanding my dietary restrictions and limitations. Others, not so much. Good rule of thumb, if I say I can’t go out, it means I probably can’t eat at the places you would like to go so instead, I’ll just back out and let you eat with someone else because my limitations aren’t yours to deal with. If you really want to eat a meal with me call me up. I’m more than happy to cook for you!
I’m not entirely sure why this picture works so well, but it does. I have high functioning anxiety. It’s awful. I say that with a smile on my face because I have learned how to cope with it and work around it. (Psst, yoga is a huge help). BUT I still do have high functioning anxiety. I could probably write one thousand posts about this, so it’s a story for later overall.
Long story short, it feels a lot like the picture to me. It means, for me, that I struggle to respond to emails, phone calls, texts, etc. I don’t like going out on social excursions or going to parties. In fact, I’ve never been to a huge college party or a club or a bar. I know I won’t like it. I know that it will trigger an anxiety attack. So why bother?
That being said, some days my anxiety is less manageable than others. On the off chance that I do want to go grab coffee with someone, sometimes I have to cancel or just say “no” because I realize I won’t be there mentally. I’ll be panicking constantly and disassociating the majority of the time. That’s not fun for me.
If I say “no, I can’t go out” it might be because I’m prioritizing my mental health. Taking care of me and my mental state will always come first. If it doesn’t, it could mean months of struggling to get back to my best self.
There is another aspect to mental though. Sometimes I’m just not up for the questions and the judgment I get when I do go out. I’m a writer that doesn’t make much money. I’m in college pursuing a Creative Writing degree (almost done). I have a very hectic life and past. And now I have a ton of dietary stuff that people can see when I go out to eat. Yeah, all of these things leave me wide open to all sorts of questions and rude judgments.
I don’t particularly like to share my sob story with everyone I meet or talk to or am friends with. Because of that, I look rude when I tell people I won’t answer a question, or that question is too personal, or that it’s not their business. Aside from that, I don’t like going out to be interrogated. If I go out, I want to enjoy my time, relax and have fun. I don’t want to feel like everyone is trying to figure everything out about me. And I definitely don’t like repeating myself over and over about why I eat and drink the way I do.
All right. Third and final. Workload.
Sometimes, I don’t have time. I write books, short stories, a blog, and poetry. I record and post YouTube videos. I edit all of my stuff myself. And I’m in college. On any given day, I am swamped in work. If I decline or cancel it might be as simple as me being too busy or too behind to afford losing an entire morning, an entire day, or just one little hour. Just because I don’t have a boss doesn’t mean I slack off. I keep myself very accountable and I work very, very hard to stay motivated and on track.
So, what do I mean when I say, “No, I can’t go out”? I mean, “No, I can’t go out”. The motivations may differ from time to time, but the bottom line is that I said can’t go out. If I don’t offer up an explanation, don’t press me. No is no. No matter how it presents itself, “no” never needs to be justified.
Think about it. When was the last time you asked someone why they agreed with you? Said yes?