Just in time for the weekend I'm going to share a secret with all of you.
Listen carefully now!
All of those soul sucking events that people keep guilting you into attending? You know, the bbq at the cousin's friend's house, the little neighbor's recital, the millionth birthday party your child has been invited to this year, your room-mate's boyfriend's housewarming party? All of those events that drain you of your energy and clutter your weekends to the point of rendering them more exhausting than your work week? You can, I promise it's ok, just shout NO!
OK. Maybe screaming NO! is a little harsh. But just the same, I guarantee that if you politely decline, the world will not stop spinning, the sun will not stop shinning, and the person doing the inviting will not stop speaking to you. I know this because I've been practicing for years now.
The first few times you decline an invitation, just because you don't want to go, are pretty nerve wracking. A part of you huddles in the corner of your brain, convinced that the invitor will know that you have nothing else planned and that you are just brushing them off. You crouch there just waiting for them to jump up and down pointing at you screaming accusations. But then they just say "Oh well. That's too bad.", or something to that effect, and they drop the subject. And the only thing that happens? You have an evening to yourself. It's amazing, and so incredibly freeing!
Now before you get all carried away, let me say one more thing. The key to this whole system is to make sure you don't give a reason. If you start giving reasons the person will undoubtedly try to convince you to choose between what you have "planned" and what they are offering. Going for an excuse no one can argue with is dangerous. Seriously, how many times can you bury your grandma? So you stay as vague as possible; "Wow, that sounds like an amazing talent show. I wish I could come, but I just can't make it. I'm sorry." The other person won't dare ask why, clearly if you had been comfortable mentioning why you would have, and you are in the clear. The best part about being that vague is that you are free to change your mind if it turns out that the event becomes enticing. "You know, it turns out I am free after all! I'm so glad I can come!"
Go out into the world and reclaim your free time! Only attend the events that truly make your heart sing! You will be a much happier person in the long run, and you'll feel that much better about yourself.