Your friend texts you about going to the club and, being the good sport that you are, you agree. The truth is that you don’t want to hang out tonight, but you didn’t have the courage to turn down the invite. So you string your friend along for hours and, at the last moment, text her saying that you have an early call in the morning and won’t be able to make it tonight. Congratulations! You are guilty of bailing.
According to David Brooks of the New York Times, bailing is a psychological act that stems from our desire to please everyone. We don’t want to offend our friends by telling them that we have no desire to spend our one night of freedom in a place where sweat and funk reign supreme. So instead of being honest, we simply agree. Then, we think about the consequences of following through on our commitments. A visit to the club requires us to put on our good bra, shoes, and best dress. And then there’s getting to the place. It will take at least twenty minutes to either drive or take the train to the neighborhood’s hotspot. We consider all of these things and decide that backing out is best.
Not surprisingly enough, bailing has become a sort of culture in this digital age. Technology helps us bail on our promises. It is much easier to shoot our loved ones and acquaintances a text message saying, “I’m not going to be able to make it” than it is to actually call someone with an explanation. Make no mistake about it, though. Bailing is not a good thing.
Imagine the man of your dreams asking you to commit to being his wife. You immediately agree only to think about everything that being a spouse entails. The notion of compromising and possibly surrendering your career for motherhood becomes overwhelming, and you second-guess your decision. Suddenly, you find yourself telling the love of your life that “just being friends” is best. The bailing culture has struck again and possibly ruined your life.
So, even though the above example is an extreme one, we see that backing out of commitments is not the greatest idea. How do you go against the grain, though, when everyone around you is thinking twice?
First, go the way leading towards honesty. Don’t agree to meet your friend for a night of fun when you have no desire to hang out. Instead, choose to be frank and politely decline her offer. You should also consider asking for more time to make decisions rather than immediately giving a firm answer. Ask your boss if you can think about the chance to move halfway across the country and take on even greater tasks at work instead of getting caught up in the excitement of it all.
The third thing to do in your quest to avoid bailing is stand by your choices. You have (hypothetically, or actually) committed to marrying your boyfriend, you love him, and that’s final. There’s no such thing as cold feet.
Bailing is a thing that David Brooks believes has taken this generation by storm. You, however, can escape its clutch.