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When I Cancel on You, It's Not Because I Don't Want to Hang Out


I think I’m just going to stay home… but please know it’s not because I don’t want to hang out with you.

It’s because I struggle with severe anxiety. As my friend, I don’t expect you to fully understand. However, I would appreciate it if you support my decision to stay home.

I know we have been planning this for a while now. And I know I kept telling you I wanted to see you when we were both available. Believe me. I still want to see you. Anxiety makes it so I can’t get myself to go out.

I did my hair and makeup. Picked out my favorite shirt. Put on my dark blue jeans. And put on my favorite pair of heels. Now, I’m waiting for you to pick me up.

I try sitting down on my bed. But I can’t. Instead, I’m pacing around my room, picking up every little thing I can find on the ground. I decide to remake my bed. I find myself running my hands along the bedsheets making sure there are no lines or wrinkles. I hear my phone buzz.

It’s you.

You tell me you just have to get ready, and then you will come pick me up — “30 minutes, tops,” you tell me.

I can feel my heart beating. I’m moving around a lot faster now. I’m sweating.

Does my hair look OK? Maybe I should change my shirt. Which shirt should I wear instead? Is this too fancy? Will people think I’m trying too hard? Does this shirt go with these shoes? Maybe I should just put on what I had on before… Hurry he’s going to be here soon.

My stomach is in knots. My heart begins to beat faster than ever. I can’t sit still. I’m no longer hungry. I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Buzz. Buzz. It’s you. You tell me you are leaving in five minutes.

My stomach drops.

I made myself sick worrying about this. I’m no longer hungry. What am I going to do? I can’t go now. I can’t just sit there and not eat. But I have to go. But if I eat, my stomach will get upset. What will he think if I don’t eat? Maybe I’ll just go and order something small. No, that’s embarrassing. I’m just not going to go. But if I cancel, he’s going to be mad at me. I don’t know what to do.

I’m pacing around my living room now. Thoughts are racing through my mind. What do I do?

I pick up my phone. Open the messaging app and start typing…

“Hey. Please don’t be mad at me, but I’m going to have to take a rain check on lunch. I’m really sorry.”

But just know… it’s not because I don’t want to go.

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Unsplash photo via Norman Toth.