Nobody texted me back.
I checked back to my initial texts: One sent at 11:40 a.m. The next sent at 12:59 p.m. The third at 1:41 p.m.
The message in each was exactly the same: “Hey, I’d love to see you. It’s been too long. Want to meet up later?”
But it was 5 p.m. And not a single one had texted me back.
This is enough to set a perpetually anxious person like myself into a serious state of disarray and distress. Every passing moment was another minute that ticked by without a response.
At the first hour, I just assumed everyone was busy. Working, perhaps. Or maybe out running important errands. I get it. We’re all New Yorkers. Busy is our shared middle name. Our excuse for everything.
By hour two, I’d assumed that at least one person would respond. Even with a simple — “Hey, good to hear from you. So sorry, not tonight.” The silence was perplexing. Mildly concerning, even.
Nobody likes me, said that inner critic. You know the spiel: You’re never around. You’re super flighty. People can tell you’re texting at the last minute because you’re desperate. Desperation isn’t an attractive quality in a friend. You should know better.
To pass the time, I decided to take myself out for a midday coffee treat. Look at me not caring, I thought to myself. I’m so impressed by how little I care that I’m going to be super chill and not text anyone back at all. This is what maturity looks like. I’m an adult.
Two minutes later, I broke.
“Heyyyyy…” I texted. Yes, I was following up, I acknowledged. But not in a desperate way. I’m following up in a “normal” way — you know, to jumpstart some of that FOMO vibe among my friends. I just want to make sure that they are sure they don’t want to miss a hangout with me. A friendly reminder, that’s all. Really, my text would just remind them to check the texts on their phone. Maybe they just got a TON of Tweets at the same time that I sent my initial message and it just completely fell off their radar. Maybe my text wasn’t the only one they’d been ignoring. In fact, you might even say that I was helping by sending that follow-up. You might say it was the kind of move that only a really good friend could pull.
“Just wanted to see if you got my message? Would be fun to see you and hang out — but LMK if you’re busy!”
WHY IS THERE NOT AN UNDO SEND?!
I cursed myself as soon as I sent it. “LMK if you’re busy?!?!” I was definitely crossing the crazy line. They shouldn’t need to let me know, obviously. I mean, clearly, I’d be fine either way. I’m cool if we hang, I’m cool if we don’t. In fact, even if you don’t text me back, I have WAY. MORE. IMPORTANT. THINGS. to be doing. I thought about sending another follow-up: “LOL JKJK! You do you! I’ll see you next week!” Thankfully my trigger fingers restrained themselves.
I busied myself with writing a blog post to pass the time. I’m going to be so busy writing that I won’t even notice my phone flooded with texts and invitations and responses by the time I’m done. They’ll all come at once, I reasoned. Don’t be an insane person. What are you, 21?!
I finished the blog post. Still nothing. I turned my phone on an off airplane mode. “Is your wifi signal okay?” I asked my coworker. She nodded.
Four hours in and I finally texted my husband.
“Heyyyy I miss you. Also — this is weird but, I texted three different people to hang out tonight and none of them got back to me. Kinda bummed. Was hoping to have a friend hang… ANYWAY, love you!”
“Just cuddle with our cat tonight,” he responded.
“Haha,” I replied.
Twenty minutes later:
“No really. I don’t have a friend. WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE ME!? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG??? DON’T PEOPLE CHECK THEIR TEXTS??!?!??!?!?!”
He didn’t reply. Clearly, he had better things to do.
I took a deep breath and checked the time. Oh, boy. 5 p.m. Any other interest now was going to strike immediate suspicion. Nobody wants to be anybody’s last ditch effort to hang out. It’s never good to pull the eleventh hour call for a post-work hang.
I sunk deeper into my chair and sighed. It’s no big deal, I told myself. I’ll just go home and hang alone like I do every other night. Any possible interest or semblance in a socializing effort was clearly way overplayed. TOTALLY not necessary.
Except that it wasn’t. Why? asked that teensie voice back in the deepest corner of my brain. Why don’t people like me? I reached out to the world, and the world gave me nothing in return. Not even the acknowledgement of a simple, “No, thank you.”
Silence is always worse than remorse. I quickly spiraled downward into the pit of despair.
Who was I to think I could just send a random text into the world and expect people to actually be free? Friday nights are precious entities. People don’t give them up lightly. There’s no way this would have worked, I scolded myself. You should have planned this all out way more in advance. To get time with the people you want to meet, you need to plan at least three weeks out. Everybody know that. Just goes to show what this says about your priorities. Guess you’re just going to spend every weekend night alone, at home, with your cat. And maybe a crossword. Maybe, one day, I’ll learn for that to be enough. Maybe that day was today.
At 5:30 p.m. my phone pinged:
“Hi hi hi!!! I’m so sorry for the delay! I would love to, but I’m in Korea!”
My heart swelled.
Can you imagine?
Thank you, I called out to the invisible forces in the world around me. Thank you for this rejection. For it is far better than not knowing whether my voice was heard at all.
At 6 p.m. my phone buzzed for a second time.
“Oof that sounds awesome but I’m still in China!”
I laughed out loud. But I could have cried tears of joy. How classic, I rolled my eyes at myself, to have two out of three friends traveling around the world and be on a massive time delay in responding. How insane, I scoffed, to have considered the alternative, that I was just being shamelessly ignored by people I know and love.
I ended up having an amazing night out with another friend that night. And the following morning, I got a text from my husband about the third person in my queue: “Oh, btw, he’s still in India.”
The irony was unreal. All three people I texted failed to respond for the exact same (totally legitimate) reason. What a weirdo I must be, to have jumped so quickly to the conclusion that I don’t have friends. How absurd that idea must have been, to even have entertained the thought. That everybody hates me. That I’d be all alone. Forever. I laughed for ten minutes straight so much that I scared my cat into the other room. Then I texted my husband goodnight and went to bed.
So, I guess what I’m saying is: It’s possible that nobody likes you. But it’s also possible that all of your friends just happen to be in Asia.