“no, i think i’m going to stay home, eat some pastry, read Car and Driver, maybe listen to the radio.”
throughout high school, Arthur was invited to parties. but he’d generally decline. when pushed, he’d elaborate with the explanation above—a nod to the radio over a shot at beers, bongs, and girls.
he was the world’s oldest 16-year-old.
and the wisest.
because while Arthur’s eccentric as hell, he’s also brilliant (and able to repair your car). he nails it on all fronts: self-possession, clear priorities, and confident, unwavering dedication to his desires. can you imagine being so firm and steadfast as a teenager?
i’ve never met Arthur. that isn’t even his name, but i think we can agree it fits his personality. he’s a friend of a friend. and since i get a lot of reader questions about setting boundaries, his behavior was too insightful to pass up.
we’ve all been there: about to go to bed when you get a text from a friend, luring you out. until you checked your phone, you simply wanted to curl up in pajamas and sleep. but now what?
most of us, after some good-natured badgering from friends, decide, “i’ll sleep when i’m dead,” and find ourselves wedged in a deafening bar with 97 others, wondering how this ever sounded like fun.
sometimes the hardest part of saying no to an invite is knowing we don’t have an exciting alternative planned. we just want to do something else—read, Netflix our heart out on the couch, ruminate. but in the face of pleading from people we like, it’s easy to push aside our modest plans and accommodate.
or maybe it’s an inside job: the critical monologue—“your plans weren’t that important. just go! it could be fun,”—kicks in and self-generated guilt rules the day.
Arthur wouldn’t fall for that. sure, he could read Car and Driver on Saturday afternoon instead of Friday night and chow down on pastry any time. but he knew what he wanted in spite of persuasion.
of course we should sometimes go out. but when the only hurdle between you and what you truly feel like doing is physically speaking the words, it’s time to Arthur.
Arthuring is simple but not easy. it’s unapologetically explaining your wishes while maintaining a calm center amid competing demands. you Arthur regardless of the perceived lameness of what you want—to iron button-downs, restock the pantry, or watch nature documentaries. Arthur wholeheartedly. Arthur regardless.
if you feel self-doubt, tell yourself, unless these cats can recreate the pastry, C and D, radio combination, i’m flying solo.
a fringe benefit is when you do turn up, you’ll genuinely want to be there. what kind of friends wouldn’t be happy about that?
another perk is that leading by example will encourage others. for example, i wanted to set up a phone conversation with a friend. i was excited, but she said her mother-in-law was visiting and it wouldn’t be feasible. i completely understood. in fact, i was happy she told me what genuinely worked for her and told her that, too.
how do you handle saying no and setting boundaries? tell me in the comments!
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