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  • Zuhra Al Yarabi

I’m Sorry, I have to Cancel

“Can we take a rain check?”

A text message we dread to receive or send to someone, especially after multiple and consistent rescheduling of plans. And on some occasions, cancellations.

Vivian, a dear friend of mine, was at the receiving end of it. Our plans coincidentally received the fate of not happening. From incompatible availability, terrible weather conditions, passing a family member, and recently falling ill, ceasing our plans was the only option. I pride myself on having secure attachments and boundaries with friends. However, some moments strike through that boundary when particular thoughts and feelings emerge and counteract the characteristics of a healthy one.

“Okay,” I thought to myself, and further went on, “I clearly don’t feel well, but how do I tell her that we need to cancel for the millionth time?” I could feel the worry and guilt while drafting the text message. Yes, drafting. I was determined to convey my message thoughtfully and emphasize how unrelated it is to the quality of our relationship. And to put it simply, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. The anxiousness and disappointment I felt were confirmed when I received, “Girl, I am upset how many times we rain-checked and rescheduled.” Understandable. I could relate to her feelings because I’ve been on both ends, getting canceled on and canceling on others. And in both situations, there’s an underlying feeling of doom of a negative outcome. We sometimes head to the realm of rejection and wonder why this person has canceled on us. It seems especially true when its occurrence is more frequent. We may assume, “They want to distance themselves and end our friendship.”

You may be wondering what happened between me and Vivian. Well, we put vulnerability in the forefront and managed to reach a resolution and understanding. The latter result was also in light of our ability to instill our conversation with honesty, openness to feedback, and dropping our egos. That said, what are some key points on how to handle rain checks?

If you’re the sender: Express your current needs and wants truthfully, include alternate plans, and adjust until it works for all parties involved. In the process of doing so, keep in mind that you both want to achieve the same goal (that is, to meet each other). Thus, avoid blaming one another when planning hits a problematic patch (e.g., time constraints or conflict in schedules). An extra step could include providing clarification of the situation. The latter depends on who’s receiving your message. Some people feel rejected, anxious, and perplexed. Therefore, it helps to reassure them that they’re not the reason for your decision.

If you’re the receiver: Voice your honest feelings about the text while showing your understanding, compassion for the situation, and interest in rescheduling. There are instances in which the sender is unaware of the magnitude a message can have to the receiver. So, if you have any questions, doubts, or inkling that the sender is pulling themselves from the friendship or any related matter, be sure to address those concerns. Whether you’re the sender or receiver, leave your egos behind. It takes at least one person to create a change and pave the way to mend the dynamic.

To conclude, there’s surely a matter of sincerity in your actions. You want to be able to recognize the reasons influencing your decisions. Are you rain-checking a person because you’ve grown out of your relationship with them? Do you not find value in spending time together? Is hanging out troublesome and impacting other areas of your life (e.g., work or school)? Ergo, you’ll have to check in with yourself and express your mind to the person. If your mind leads to wanting to distance yourself from the individual, have that conversation. Although it may seem challenging, one tough conversation outweighs leading a person on, for it is mentally taxing for everyone. At the end of it, both of you gain awareness of where the relationship stands.

Written by Zuhra Al Yarabi

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphics by Satomi Shikano

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