It started innocently enough. A high school friend messaged me on Facebook, “Are we still on for lunch tomorrow?”
I’d been looking forward to getting together; really, I was. It’s just that I’ve lost myself in motherhood these last few years, and I’m still trying to figure out who I am again. But I was thrilled when she reached out to me.
However, I didn’t respond immediately, because I needed to think. I’d been in bed all day with stomach issues. I’d gotten so tired I had to sit down just walking across the house earlier.
I was desperate for social interaction, but unsure if I’d be up to driving an hour each way to meet on her lunch hour. Plus, I’ve never had Thai food. Could my stomach handle it? Would I even like it? There were so many unknowns.
So when she messaged again half an hour later saying “I really need to know tonight,” I knew I couldn’t commit.
I explained I’d been sick with a stomach bug all day and thought it would be best to reschedule. Our lunch was scheduled for that upcoming Tuesday, so I asked if another day during the week would work.
“I’m tied up the rest of the week,” she told me.
“Soon then!” I replied cheerfully.
And then three letters came back at me.
That’s right — NAH.
I’d been annoyed at my daughter’s 16-year-old friend the day before because he’d said “nah” when I asked if he was still coming for dinner.
And here it was coming from an almost 40-year-old professional woman.
Nah, she didn’t want to reschedule the lunch with me.
I canceled, and she was done. End of story.
“I’ve asked you to come have lunch with me for over a year and it’s obviously not going to happen,” she said. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
And then, she promptly unfriended me.
And then blocked me from responding to her message.
Technology makes cutting people out of your life easier and more common than ever before. If your feelings get hurt or someone annoys you, the solution is simple: Just ghost them! No messy feelings or uncomfortable confrontations to deal with. Just a few taps of the finger, and you’re done.
But here’s the thing: It stings when you’re the one on the other side of that unfriend button.
It’s true she’d asked me to lunch several times and here I was canceling after finally committing. But she lives and works an hour away from me. She wanted me to come to her and I was okay with that since she holds a 9-to-5 type job and I have a flexible freelance schedule. However, a flexible schedule doesn’t mean a free schedule.
Driving an hour to meet someone on their lunch break means I need to carve at least three hours out of my day. And if I’m not working those three hours, I’m not getting paid, which means less money in my bank account or a late night trying to make it up.
Plus, I’m a mom to a teenager who’s currently in crisis mode. I’m barely functioning while trying to hold my daughter together.
I was looking forward to the lunch, despite the distance, because I am desperate for friends right now. Things are really hard.
But I legit got sick.
And she unfriended and blocked me with that dismissive “nah” before I could even explain that I wasn’t just being a bitch and blowing her off.
There are so many legitimate reasons someone could decline or cancel an invitation. Anxiety, illness, job stress, family crisis, life mishaps. We don’t often really know what someone else is going through, on the other side of that screen.
Parenthood, day jobs, and everyday life in general keeps us busy in all sorts of ways. I don’t think I’m the only one who suddenly realizes it’s been months since I’ve called my Grandma or years since I got together with a dear friend. It’s not personal.
People deserve the benefit of the doubt. They are worth more than a “nah.” Especially if they’re someone you once considered to be a close friend.
And for the record, despite the fallout of “Nah Gate,” I still think this person is worth more than a nah herself, and would still be down for lunch with her in the future. Just as she doesn’t know everything going on in my world, I don’t know what’s swirling around hers. But I still wouldn’t mind lending an ear.