People, you guys. I like them! People are great. It's just that sometimes you have to shout "moron!" out the window at a horrible driver, or walk away from a person who is talking because you can't believe the words they are actually speaking. If you're me, you don't understand slow-walkers (and you condemn them accordingly), or you see Instagram photos and actually say, "UGH NOPE" out loud because you the phrase "I can't" was invented for that specific situation. (The situation being . . . well, anything. It can be anything, who am I kidding.)
So with that in mind, I've found four phrases that have helped me avoid actual confrontation ala John Malkovich in almost any movie or TV show he's starred in. These are the phrases we're told might be "negative" or "bad" or any number of synonyms for "do not use." Well, today we are Miley Cyrus, and this is our house and these are our rules, and I promise these will ease the pain of aspects of society. Or at least interactions with members of society that we will inevitably come up against at some point once to 5000 times a day. (Usually one or the other — there is no in-between.) Just don't say them out loud. They're for inside your head only.
Let's start off with the easiest: nooooo thank you (but shorter)! This is a great phrase to use when scrolling through Facebook and seeing a status you can't believe is real, or through Instagram and findinga photo of a super #hip #party. Nope! I will pass. I will choose not to explore this. This is not for me. I RSVP "hell no" to whatever this is about. For added points, say it like an Archer character, and then feel the burden of having to care about choices you're not interested in drift away, leading to my next suggestion.
2. "I don't care!"
Thank you, Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive for raising the bar for acceptable apathy. 99% of the time, apathy is horrible. Here is when it isn't:
1) Harrison Ford is telling you he didn't kill his wife.
2) Somebody is telling you how drunk/high/whatever they got but have no actual story to go with it.
3) Somebody is bragging about the famous people they hung out with — again, with no actual story to go with it.
4) Somebody is humblebragging about how wonderful they are — still, with no actual story to go with it.
5) Somebody is complaining about a thing that they have absolutely no business complaining about. (Ex. "Can you believe the valet took 10 minutes to get my car?!")
This also works in situations when somebody is doing something "cool" and you feel like you "should" do the cool thing, only to accept that you don't want to do the "cool thing" and would rather sit at home and watch Veronica Mars. (Exception: say it out loud if you're guilted into going.)
3. "I don't want to"
Probably the worst thing about being invited to a thing you don't want to go to is having to find any other reason not to go. You make other plans. You beg the universe for sickness. You stretch the truth. You purposely flatten your tires. You build a yurt so you can live in it. But you never say, "Ah, no thanks — I don't want to." (Although when it comes to birthdays, too bad — you're going, because that's what friends do.) But to a DJ night? Or a misc. party? Or to an "event"? A festival? A camping weekend? (UGH. See: Nope!) It's all, "Oh I have . . . a . . . [makes up any reason, and pray nobody checks it out.]"
It's more than okay not to want to go somewhere. I'm sorry, but I do not want to sit on the ground in a park in the sun. Why? Because I like chairs, and I sunburn easily, I hate hot weather, and — drumroll please — I don't want to. I just don't want to. The same goes for camping. Or for sleeping on somebody's floor. Or travelling without access to my own room. I don't want to do those things. I want to sleep in a comfy bed and get my money's worth out of my trip and not suffer heat exhaustion. And the best part about saying "Oh, I don't want to" is that the other person will usually say "Hey, that's fair!" and they move on. Nobody cares! Especially not anyone you know! And if they do, UGH. Ditch that posse of park ground-sitting floor-sleepers and hang with us cool kids who find great joy in a bench under a tree. We have cold beverages here.
4. "I can't"
Now, I don't mean this in the "can't even" sense of the word, I mean "Hey wanna do this thing?" – "Oh, no thank you!" – "Why not?" – "I can't." DONE. Shut down. In the words of Salt-n-Pepa, it ain't none of your business. And what is "it"? Doesn't matter. Because I can't. Sorry! Now, of course you owe some people explanations: like any human that means something to you. But if you're invited to something that stresses you out, or you're asked to take on a task you're not comfortable with, or worse — you're asked on a date by somebody who's making you uncomfortable? The reason behind your "no thank you" is simple: "I can't." Anybody who tries to pry deserves a call-out and/or public shaming, because "I can't" usually connotes "end of discussion." (Which is why you don't bust it out on people you care about.) And if they insist on a "why"? Easy: "I don't want to." – "You know you do!" – "Nope!" – "But it will be so cool and hip!" – "I don't care!"
See? You're already more free than you've ever dreamed.