I used to meet people just because they were from college or we had worked together somewhere, until I was in my mid-20s. These were what people call “social commitments”. I used to go to parties I didn’t want to go to because I was afraid people would call me a spoilsport.

As I got closer to my late 20s, I began to realise how fleeting most relationships are. You hardly ever talk to or meet the people you once thought of as your “close friends”. As soon as you move to a new job or city, very few of those people will stay with you.

So I began to ask myself: How much will it matter to this person, or even to me, if I don’t go to this party? The answer is usually ‘not much’. Will I still want to meet the person that I am going to meet today in 5 years’ time? Again the answer is usually no.

So I stopped worrying about these ‘social commitments’.

Now I only go out to meet people that I really want to meet. The people who make me feel happy. People I learn from and look up to. The kind of people for whom I would set an alarm in the morning saying “IMP meet X in the evening” so that I don’t miss the engagement.

Another filter I use: If there was no alcohol involved, would I still want to meet this person? Is this chat only happening because we both have nothing else to do and therefore it is fine to spend 3 hours saying “aur batao” over a beer while waiting for the evening to end? Or is it because I am really looking forward to meeting this person and therefore this person has priority over a dozen other things I could be doing?

I have very little regret about not meeting people. But I do have a lot of them about: Going to parties I didn’t want to go to. Going because the person asked a dozen times and I couldn’t say no. Meeting someone with the knowledge that all we will do is bitch and bitch and bitch. And I will just fake a smile through the whole thing. I will wait to go home.

Saying no has become second nature to me now.

Thanks to good defaults:

  1. Reading (books/articles)
  2. Spending time with my gf
  3. Occasional travel
  4. Learning one new thing or the other

the cost of saying Yes is much more than me sticking to my defaults. The things I enjoy. And I am fine with that.

It took me a lot of time to learn this. I now wish I was better at saying No when I was in college.