I don’t like doing things last minute. Ask me to do something with less than 24 hours notice, and you can watch me panic as I try to make up an excuse to get out of it. I like planning. I like knowing exactly what I’m going to do with my day as soon as I wake up in the morning. The second something comes up that can change my schedule, I freak out. I don’t know why I’m so afraid of spontaneity—maybe it has something to do with my search for stability—but I do know that I need to get better at saying yes to last minute plans.
Recently, a coworker texted me to see if I could cover her shift, but I had to say no. I told her I needed to work on a final, which was true, but I would have had enough time to work one shift. The real reason I said no was because she asked nine hours before the shift started. That wasn’t enough time for me to prepare! I felt bad saying no because I wanted to help, and I don’t want her to turn me down if I need someone to cover my shift, but saying yes meant completely altering my weekend plans. That thought was enough to give me heart palpitations.
This isn’t to say that I am never impulsive. The truth is, I want to be more impulsive. It’s fun to do things without planning it out in advance. It’s freeing! And some of my best memories came from making a last minute decision. During my first week of studying abroad in London, someone invited me to join her group on a trip to The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. Make new friends and experience Hogwarts? That probably seems like an offer that’s too good to pass up. but I almost said no. They were going the next morning, which gave me less than 12 hours to purchase my ticket to tag-along. But a good friend of mine was also invited, and I knew she really wanted to go. I didn’t want my fear of impulsive decisions to hold her back. In the end, I agreed to go, and I am so glad I did. It was one of the best days of my life, and I made some great friends on that day trip. And I went to Hogwarts. It doesn’t get much better than that!
That ended up being the first of several impulsive decisions I made in London. One night, I heard about a free Taylor Swift concert, and the next morning I was in line for tickets. A few friends were going on a weekend trip to Germany, and two weeks later, I was boarding a plane with them. Something about being in another country made me want to say yes to new experiences. I tried to set aside all of my fears in order to try to see new things. Not every last minute decision I made turned into an incredible experience, but I love being able to look back on those moments.
Right now, I’m trying to get better at accepting last minute plans and being spontaneous. When I try to be impulsive, I like to keep these tips in mind:
- Follow the lead of someone else. I almost got arrested at a Backstreet Boys concert in September because I decided to copy a frat boy and hop onto the bed of a city-owned truck to get a better view. That may sound like a terrible experience, but it was awesome. I never get in trouble, and it was so exciting to actually take a risk. I don’t recommend doing exactly what I did. You should try to follow the lead of someone who makes better decisions. But I’m still proud of myself because I did something without weighing the pros and cons first. I wouldn’t have made that decision by myself, so I’m glad I was able to play follow the leader.
- There’s nothing wrong with guilt. Most of the time when I say yes to last minute plans, it’s because someone guilted me into them. Whether they persuaded me to go to their New Year’s party by saying I was one of their best friends or they got me to join them at the beach with a pleading text message, my friends have figured out how to guilt me into saying yes. It almost always works. There’s nothing fun about letting down your friends, so don’t be afraid to let guilt be a deciding factor on whether or not you’ll do something.
- If I say no, what will I miss out on? I hate being left out. If I think I’ll miss something exciting or important, I will say yes to any plans, no matter how last minute they are. Inside jokes are constantly being formed, and I never want to be on the outside. This is probably the best way to get me to do something. I don’t want to miss out on anything.
- Do I have anything better to do? It’s not like I have an active social life to begin with. If I say no to everything, I’ll eventually become a hermit, which isn’t ideal. You can’t avoid all plans forever, so say yes occasionally. If you always so no, people will stop asking. Can last minute plans be scary? Yes, but being trapped inside forever with no plans is even scarier.
I wish it was easier for me to channel my impulsive side, but I’m only spontaneous about once a month, if that. I’m working on it, though. Next time, no matter how little notice I get, I will say yes when a friend asks me to join her for coffee or a coworker asks me to cover her shift. I won’t go straight into panic mode and spout out some lie about a family movie night. I’m going to accept last minute plans because I don’t want to limit my experiences. It will be nice to stop planning everything I do and just go with the flow.
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