The Other Reason People Flake


I think we’ve all become aware of the concept of ghosting. The Millennial no-fuss-no-muss approach to personal management has swept the nation. We do it to everyone - I once ghosted a nail salon. I acted like I was going to come back and then I just didn’t and I’m not sorry. Sometimes refraining from something is all about supporting ourselves and deciding that the social required confrontation is just too much of an ordeal for us. I’ve come to find peace with all the reasons people - including myself - withdraw.

For the last two days, my bedroom has been my fortress. The covers on my bed have been my mountain, the wood floors have been my footpath, the light that creeps in through my garden-facing window has been my sustenance. I’ve left the house, had lunch and dinner with friends, attended parent-teacher meetings, patronized a fruit stand. But for the most part, the confines of my boudoir have been the only walls I crave. So I haven’t much been checking in with email, text messages or DMs. It’s during times like these, when I’m comfortably clinging to my own silence space, that I am thankful for having people in my life who understand my need to withdraw.

This is an especially notable in a city like New York. Here, in this concrete jungle we don’t have much space of our own. Our apartments are small, our sidewalks are crowded, there is noise pollution and police presence. We retreat to our private spaces, at the end of our long-worked days and nights and create worlds. As a co-parenting single mother, I am fortunate enough to have days throughout my week in which my son is with his father. This time, I used the opportunity to relax and fall off the map.

I try not to apologize for this (auto-apology is a hard habit to break). Instead I try to say things like

“Thank you for being supportive.”

“I’m taking some time with myself.”

I think it’s OK to hit the snooze button on your life while you take a breather. That breather can last two days, or two minutes in the bathroom while your kids wonder where you’ve gone. You can take a breather at a coffee shop on your lunch break. You can take a breather in a tub filled with bath toys if you don’t have the energy to fish them out. It’s OK to flake on absolutely everyone in the world if you have to. As long as you’re showing up for you.

I’m often reminded of the pre-flight safety instructions we get on airplanes. To put our oxygen masks on first before we help anyone else. There is a revving up that happens when you take a moment to go inward, a sacred space for gathering one’s much needed energy.

Ready, set? OK, go.