I’m proud that I said NO

🤔 What I’ve been Thinking Of

I’m proud of myself: I said “No” today, unapologetically.

I had been invited to have dinner at my aunt’s. I like her family. But still, I already know how the evening would unfold: My aunt and uncle would cook something, talk mostly about the kids and high school and the virus, and drink a suspiciously high amount of wine.

But I didn’t feel like going. Not at all. The truth is that right now, I only feel like talking to a few people. And these people are not my family. I feel like I have to play the happy-confident-man with them, and I don’t have the strength to do that right now, to be honest.

I’ve had this type of situation thousands of times in my life. Usually, a battle will erupt inside of my head between “you should go, they’re family” and “I don’t feel social. Why do I have to do this?” This head-battle will continue throughout the day and I’ll get frustrated and anxious about it. I’ll end up somewhere between “Why am I like this?” and “Why are THEY like this?” Don’t they know that I don’t like these dinners? Their invitation distracts me all day and will make me feel guilty if I decline – because I know they technically mean well.

In any case, here’s what I wrote, and I’m pretty proud of it, because in previous years I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it: “Thank you very much for your invitation!
But I don’t feel like doing this right now – I’ll reach out to you once this changes!
Please say hi to the family”

Does that sound a bit cruel? Maybe. But coming from an agreeable people-pleaser (me), it was the right thing to say, I think. My younger self would have written long paragraphs and made lame excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I’m feeling a little sick”. I would have used phrases like “I would have loved to go” or “I’m really sorry, let’s catch up very soon!”

The truth is, that would all be a lie. I won’t feel like going next week either, probably not for two or three months, this much I know.

“I will reach out to you (once I feel like seeing you)” allows me to limit “social time” to a dose I feel comfortable with, instead of having it forced on me by other people (mostly extroverts) who feel they are entitled to my time and presence whenever they want it.

I need space. I need time. Please don’t call me in the middle of the day and dump your toxic neurotic worries onto me because it relieves you, and then pretend like you’re helping me. I know that you think I should live differently and be more social and happy and normal. You’re not helping me. You make me feel worse when I have to decline again. And I’ll already dread the next time you’ll ask.
(I was probably arguing with my parents in my head, here:)

I’m an antisocial cat right now, sorry, but don’t try to chase me and pet me. I’ll scratch and bite if I feel cornered. If you give me space, I’ll return for cuddles. But on my own terms.

I know I sound like a lunatic in a world that a) seems to aggressively promote an extroverted lifestyle of consumption and “creating great memories”, and b) where everybody seems to preach the mantra of “Family is everything to me. It’s the only thing that matters in life!” or “my mom is my best friend”. I can’t relate to that, sorry.

I’ve had to learn to set boundaries, and I’m still learning. Books like “The Courage to be Disliked” or “Not Nice” helped me, but it’s difficult to unlearn my conditioning and apparent avoidant-attachment tendencies.

Some people seem to have an easy time with this – either they’re super extroverted anyways, or they’re disagreeable by nature and somewhat low in empathy so they’ll straight up say “No” with no remorse. It must be chill to be like that. Others seem to struggle with this. Tim Ferriss might be one of those people, because he regularly asks his podcast guests if they have tips on how to decline invitations and offers politely, which indicates that it’s not something he’s comfortable with.

I know there’s a danger of becoming too self-absorbed and burning some bridges. Maybe those relatives who meant well won’t be there anymore when I’m in real deep shit. But I’ll need to take that risk. If they have empathy, they’ll understand. The best I can do now is to communicate well, unemotionally but unapologetically.

And I’ll be the one to reach out once I feel like it, again. Which will be soon, I hope.

😴 What might help you find calm

Intentional ASMR Picks:

  • VIVA ASMR is another amazing South Korean channel – how come they’re all professional videographers and insanely creative, apparently? This recent video is called Forest Dentistry (it’s hard to explain – but it’s basically large teeth being carved out and treated with several nice triggers).
  • Goodnight Moon made a beautiful Tattoo Shop roleplay: she always overdelivers, and there are nice drawing & tapping sounds
  • ASMR bakery made another crazy 3 hour trigger assorment which you should check out as well. I loved the treasure chest with the fake gems. Or maybe you prefer her recent mic scratching video with several objects.
  • TingTing’s recent video has cool and unique triggers, too (there’s no specific theme)
  • Here’s something funny I enjoyed: A super cute “polar bear” dog eating different foods (not sure how good this diet is for the dog, though). The channel is called Mayapolarbear
  • I made a Small Gaming Store roleplay (I’ve wanted to do it for a while but was a little scared – but I finally went through with it and got some positive feedback:)

💎 Hidden Gem ASMR Channel
I started watching the channel ASMR Psychologist who is a real psychologist from Britain. She has lovely videos about self acceptance, affirmations and more. .

Unintentional ASMR Picks:

💜 What I’ve enjoyed

  • I’m a fan of Stardew Valley, and I admire Eric Barone who basically single-handedly made the game. Unfortunately there aren’t really interviews with him, so I was happy discovering this recent video by ThatGuyGlen with some great info on Eric and how this game was developed
  • I got a bit addicted to Monster Train, a pretty complex and difficult deck-building game (you basically defend your train and build a deck – and you’re the evil guy. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I love it!)