The Do It Later Pile
If you’re like me, then you have dozens and dozens of conversations in Messenger. Moreover, most of us have even more text history on our phones. As a nation, America sends about 6 billion SMS messages a day, that’s into the trillions per year. That’s a whole lot of texting (and usually about nothing anyway). Add to these figures our social media communications, and you’d think that’s all any of us did in a given day. Millions of messages, pings, alerts, and texts are being sent right now, as you are reading this.
So yes, in reality, we aren’t going reply to each one allthe time, because we’re “busy”; but we all know that’s not entirely true. You know and I know, that sometimes we simply choose to ignore someone because they bore us, annoy us, or make us mad.
Whatever the reason, we let them sit in that state of purgatory in our messages. Some people even avoid Messenger altogether to avoid just one person who’s trying to contact them. Some people open every email, but never reply. Some people lie and say they did, just to appease another. But what purpose does this serve? Are we being honest with ourselves or with others?
Prior to technology, we wouldn’t just randomly walk away from a conversation; so why are we doing it now? Convenience? Do we hold ourselves to a lower standard now, or do we sincerely just feel run so thin that we can’t reply? So we let them sit in our inboxes, in our mail pile, in our Messenger, Snapchat, and others in that purgatory of things we will “do later”.
What about that one person you need to contact, but can’t, out of fear. What if they reject me? What if I sound stupid? All valid concerns, and as you’re reading this thinking, “this totally doesn’t apply to me”, let me assure you it does.
What about sweet Aunt Josephine who’s sent you a box of cookies every Christmas your entire life?
What about that ailing family member you’re avoiding? Avoiding the pain of engagement doesn’t dissolve the pain, and you running from it because it hurts too much, will produce nothing but regret later in life.
In 2015, 2,626,418 people died in the United States.
Assuming that each deceased person had 2 people that loved them, that’s 5,252,836 people that lost something. They either lost the ones that they loved, or lost their lives, and there’s a good chance that you or someone you know were a part of that statistic in 2015. If not, you will be a part of it one day, if you’re lucky enough to live long enough.
Today however, this moment is still yours.
It is still full of opportunity to live through the pain, so you don’t have to live through the regret later. Today, you can make the choice to hand-write a letter and mail it to your elderly grandparent. You can still email your cousin and thank them for the birthday wishes.
And I hear you thinking, “Ya, but it’s been like 2 years; it’d almost be weird now.”
Then let it be weird. Punishing yourself by hiding from them is punishing them, too. If you want to punish yourself for being rude, then buck up and do the right thing. (but it’s not really a punishment) Make that call. Send that email. Write that card. By doing so, you’ve taken regret off the table, and now, you get to be positively excited about their reply….unless they haven’t read this article and don’t respond….
Return an old email or message without giving any of the following excuses:
“I’m sorry I’ve been busy”
“I didn’t get your last text/call/email”
Just say you’re sorry. That’s all that needs to be said, “hey, look, I’m sorry I didn’t text you back 2 1/2 years ago”
(I hear you laughing at me in the peanut gallery but you know it’s true)
What do you think their reply will be? Will they be infuriated that you dare contact them? Quite the contrary, they will know that you were still thinking about them 2 and 1/2 years later; and that makes you freaking amazing.