02/12/2012 09:33 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2012

We Will Spend Our Lives Waiting


There are few things in day-to-day life as satisfying as cancelling your evening plans at 4 in the afternoon. This thrill is heightened even more if instead of following through with said plans, you go home and get into your slouch pants. Once home you begin tending to the pressing matters that caused you to cancel in the first place. This can be anything from really needing to start that drawing of a cat for that woman who hasn't yet replied to your email confirming she wants a drawing of a cat, to being 4 episodes behind on 90210.

Working as a freelancer, wildly overambitious schedules created for yourself on a Sunday evening become like a judgmental mother following you around all week making 'helpful suggestions' on how you could better spend your time (at home, drawing a cat). If you don't have office hours you could always be working... so you are. It can be hard to find a balance between going outside to gain inspiration for work, and staying in get this work done. When you're in the thick of it, this weird guilt sets in and you don't want to leave the house for fear of losing good 'elephant drawing' time (or whatever your profession entails). You're cancelling plans like nobodies business whilst your work is slowing getting weirder and weirder. Everyone tells me my work is a bit abstract. It's abstract because I haven't had any human contact in 2 months and I'm losing my grip on reality.

When you work from home, the thought of changing out of your slippers and mingling with real flesh and blood people becomes even more daunting. A cocktail of factors contribute to your decision to call it a night before the nights begun. How far away is it? How cold is it out? Will there be somewhere I can sit down? But these reasons are mere pennies in the jar of the more overwhelming issues on the table. What if the conversation veer's into that awkward silence you just can't come back from? What if they talk about politics? These aren't the plans that you make with your best friend or boyfriend that I'm talking about, they're they ones you make with people you think are genuinely awesome but never get to see. The outings that push you outside of your comfort zone and by the time they roll around you're backing quietly out of them.

So you cancel and promise to see each other later in the week. That day rolls around and your friend texts you telling me they're feeling a little under the weather. Now don't get me wrong -- if there is anything more satisfying than cancelling plans at 4 in the afternoon, it's someone else cancelling your plans at 4 in the afternoon. This way you get instant access to the pocket of free time with none of the guilt. However this pattern will dutifully repeat itself for weeks, maybe months...

As I get older I start to wonder what constitutes wasting my time -- sitting alone in my apartment working on a Thursday night, or going out to dinner with a close friend. The answer should be obvious, but when you're trying to make your way in the world, if you don't have work, you have to make work... and you'll convince yourself these 'personal projects' are more important than going out. When you do eventually find your feet it becomes hard to break away from this mindset, and being behind on work becomes your 'go to' excuse to get out of plans that you're not super comfortable attending.

This week, so this post wouldn't be totally without merit, I didn't cancel one plan. I realize I have lifted this idea from the book, and consequent movie, The Yes Man, but let's just overlook that. The beginning of the week was tough; I was looking for excuses to back out even whilst waiting for the train to the restaurant. But as I got into the swing of things I started to feel more pleased with myself and less like a schlub. Every plan I attended resulted in some weird serendipity or general good feeling. I caught up with friends I haven't seen in years, I did super awkward karaoke, I met new people and I ate a lot of dessert.

Sitting in your apartment every evening will haze your brain. You'll think back on Tuesday... oh yeah what did I do Tuesday? And it's like the day never happened, the memory has fallen out of your brain because it wasn't worth keeping. When was the last time you sat back and thought about all the wonderful times you sat on your sofa and watched, The New Girl, or read a book about the cultural significance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yeah, I've read that).

When I think back on the awesome times I've had with friends, or even on my own, people watching, I don't remember how difficult it was to travel there, or how cold it was out, I remember the company and the funny things that happened and the warm fuzzy feeling you get from being around other warm moving bodies.