Did you know that women used to say that they couldn’t go out with a guy because “they needed to wash their hair” that night? That was a real excuse girls used. If you want to research it more, check out Ask Historians, but basically the gist is that in the mid-twentieth century, the hairstyles for women required a lot of time to wash, dry, set, fix, etc. and they generally only did it once or twice a week. So, this ludicrous excuse was accepted as a possible reason to not be available for the night.
This inspired me to research other ridiculous excuses, and let me tell you Google opened up a gold mine for me. Here are some of the funniest excuses I found that people have actually used:
An employee called in sick because he ate cat food instead of tuna and was deathly ill.
A student said he had an appointment with a doctor, because his dad had a PHD and they went to the movies.
An employee had to attend the funeral of his wife’s cousin’s pet, because he was an uncle and pallbearer.
“My dog asked me to stay home.”
“The place you picked only has Pepsi.”
An employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.
“I haven’t finished going through my Instagram feed from this morning.”
Employee was feeling the symptoms of his expecting wife.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to get the U2 album off of my iPhone.”
Employee was emotionally upset after watching The Hunger Games.
“Uber is surging right now.”
These are obviously ridiculous, right? But what if I told you that all excuses should sound like this to us? The truth is that some of us are better at picking convincing reasons we don’t want to do something (so much so that we even convince OURSELVES that we really can’t do the thing that’s being asked of us) but that doesn’t make the excuse any more legitimate than, “Sorry, I have to wash my hair.”
When you realize there are no adequate excuses, your entire life can change. The truth is we all absolutely make space and time for the things that are important to us. When we hear or put forward excuses, what we should really be hearing is “it just wasn’t important to me.”
Side Note: if someone calls you and says, “I’m so sorry, I’m not going to make it to our lunch plans, I’ve just been involved in a 10 car pile-up,” that isn’t an excuse. That’s a legitimate circumstance out of their control. It’s super important to know the difference between an excuse and a real unalterable situation. But…those are few and far between.
A friend of mine posted a quote the other day that phrased it this way:
I think the most important part of the quote is this: If it doesn’t sit well, that’s the point. Although the quote is meant to bring attention to the things in life that we aren’t making time for that we probably should be, I took a slightly different meaning away from it. I think it’s time we get a little more honest with ourselves and realize that some things truly aren’t a priority…and that’s okay. It also means, that to some people, WE aren’t a priority…and maybe that’s okay, too. Maybe we shouldn’t be a priority to them based on our actions. Maybe we shouldn’t want to be a priority to them based on theirs…
We aren’t all list makers or “prioritizers”, but I definitely am, so the concept of choosing how we spend our time makes a lot of sense to me. It may be harsh, but we just simply don’t have enough hours in the day to meet all of our work’s demands, friend’s plans, family’s expectations, adulthood responsibilities, and still have time for “self-care” as the kids are calling it these days. We personally just don’t have time for it all…and neither does anyone else.
This is where grace and boundaries collide in a beautiful formula for happiness. If someone you love or care about isn’t making time for you or making you a priority, first turn to grace. There are a ton of things on their list of responsibilities, some of which are probably time sensitive or unalterable, and they’ve built up enough report with you to tend to those things first without damaging your relationship.
However, as time passes, if you see a pattern forming that plans with you are tossed out the door for less and less authentic excuses, then it’s time to turn to the second part of our formula. When the relationship you’ve worked hard to build comes crashing down, use the remaining rubble to build up something new: boundaries.
As my mother has wisely reminded me my entire life, it is imperative to remember that the only person we can change in any given situation is ourselves. If you have watched yourself fall down the priority list of someone you care about, feel you’re putting in the effort of a priority worthy friend, have brought it up to them, and still aren’t seeing any shift, then it’s time to change your own priority list in concordance. This isn’t out of revenge or spite, and it certainly shouldn’t be done to get their attention (because spoiler alert; it will not). This is simply done to help calibrate your expectations and even out the equation of what you’re putting in vs. what you’re getting out.
If you’re wondering where mercy comes in, it’s simply this: when you go above and beyond to be there for someone who hasn’t been there for you recently because you know they are struggling.
Yes, there is a time and place for mercy, but I know too many incredible people who pour themselves in bed at night, completely drained from giving themselves away all day, with absolutely no filling back up to show for it. If you’re a big “self-care” person, then forget the bubble baths and face masks and do something that will actually help you take care of yourself: stop prioritizing people and things that just see you as an option. Learn what in life isn’t replaceable, and what things you’re a part of in life that would easily replace you when given the chance. Whether that’s a job, a boyfriend, a friend, a family member, etc. – learn the difference and watch where you stand with people so that you can get your own affairs in order.
Don’t miss your best friend’s wedding for a job that would fire you over a simple mistake. Don’t skip girl’s night for a boy who ditches your work parties for fantasy football. Don’t go to the movies with friends while your mom lays sick in bed. Do go to your amazing boss’s baby shower instead of yet another brunch. Do go out on a second date with the boy who treats you kindly instead of watching another Netflix episode. Do show up for the sometimes-high-maintenance friend who would drop everything to help you in a crisis.
My challenge to you this week is to mentally replace every excuse that comes out of your mouth with “it just isn’t a priority to me,” see how that feels, then adjust accordingly from there. It could change anything from how early you get up to the job you have to the people you spend your time with. Let it change your life so that you can stop wasting your time.