Sorry, I can’t


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I confess, I am one of those individuals who hold my breath every time I get a text message. “Please don’t be important, please don’t be important,” I repeat to myself as I flip my phone to see the screen.

On the off chance that it’s just a message, I do my own little happy dance and will more than likely never respond like the inconsiderate loser I am. On the probable chance that it’s someone wanting to hang out, I’ll probably never respond like the inconsiderate loser I am.

I proclaim that it’s me being inconsiderate, but actually, that’s not always true. I try to respond when I can, even if it’s to say “Sorry, I can’t.” And really, it’s not that inconsiderate of me to not have time to give someone! We all only have so much emotional energy to grant in one day, and part of that has to go to ourselves.

I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone does the best that they can with what they have. Whenever I turn someone down to go watch a movie or get coffee, that’s usually because I’m too exhausted to pick myself off the floor and do something. But when I do have that energy, I’ll happily invite people out, go shopping, get lunch, go for a walk, and whatever else me and my friends feel like doing that day.

Everyone has a busy life. I’ve packed myself full with nonstop work, school, and college activities. The individual that takes precedence in my life just so happens to life a few hours away, so just making sure I’m being a good girlfriend means I have to devote weekends to one person. That leaves me feeling guilty about my job, so I work more during the week. That takes up time to do homework and finish my online classes. Suddenly I have only a few sparse moments to myself every day, and no, I do not want to spend them with someone!

Society makes me think I really should be better about responding to text messages. I should call people back, say “yes” to a few more outings, and find a better balance between my relationship and my friendships.

In my opinion, screw that! Now is one of my only chances to really be selfish. Soon enough I’ll have full time college that I’m paying for and that I have to go to. Someday I’ll have kids who will always come before myself. A few years ago, I didn’t have the opportunity to make personal decisions when my parents were still in charge. So now, I choose to be selfish. I choose to put myself and my needs first.

The second I stop taking care of myself, my grades will slip, my motivation will fall, I’ll suck at being a nanny, and my boyfriend will feel like he’s not important enough. Instead, I’ll go to bed early, take my free time to exercise, and get to my friends when I can. As long as I still take a few moments to show my friends some compassion, then we will be just fine. After all, it’s not like I’m losing friends. I’ve had the same group of friends since elementary and middle school. I’m just not gaining any new ones, and I’m okay with that. I have people who respect my needs and know that I’m doing the best for them with what I have.

So stop feeling guilty for just saying “Sorry, I can’t.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Just do what you can, and take care of yourself. After all, you’re the only person you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.