Have you ever committed to something and decided not to pursue it? Say you have a meeting with colleagues or friends, and you suddenly decide not to show up, for reasons that you can’t really explain? It’s fine if you do it once or twice, but what if you do it so many times that you and the people around you start noticing it? Well, you are not alone my friend. You are not alone.
I have this ugly tendency to work myself up to a point and run back to the opposite direction the moment things start getting serious. For example, I applied to two jobs this week and only attended the interview for one. I e-mailed the second company saying I won’t continue my application, as I already accepted another job offer, when in fact…I have not. I start talking to people on online dating sites but the moment they ask something personal, I “unmatch” them to avoid further conversation. I make plans with friends only to back out…just because. Yep, I have a problem.
I flake a lot. I would apply to jobs and freak out the moment they start contacting me, prompting me to tell them haphazardly that no, I am not available for the position and that I’m terribly sorry. It’s been going on since I started applying for jobs (since 2012, God, I’m old) and I have not changed since. I have friends who teasingly call me “hermit” because I don’t leave the house when we have dinner dates. The same goes with dating. The moment someone wants to “get serious”, I find excuses to get out.
Why do I do it? God knows why. I can never figure it out myself. But according to Carlin Flora of Psychology Today, there might be a psychological reasoning behind flaking. Brent Roberts, a psychology professor from University of Illinois Champagne who was quoted in Flora’s article, suggests that flakes do not practice “conscientiousness”.
Defined, conscientiousness is the personality trait that is comprised of “equal parts industriousness, impulse control, organization, interpersonal responsibility, and conventionality.”
While I do agree that I lack impulse control at certain times (which may be a product of my disorder), I doubt the other aspects of this description. I am definitely organized and responsible, although I question authority and prefer a more radical approach.
Another facet to flakiness is anxiety, according to The Mighty:
Sometimes, what seems like being a “flaky friend” on the outside is really a way of coping with debilitating anxiety on the inside.
I do agree with this. I notice that when I flake, it’s usually after a bout of extreme anxiety. After dizzying spells and panic attacks, there’s nothing I want to do more than be left alone to rest rather than worry about attending to certain responsibilities.
Callous as it may seem, it is never my intention to be disrespectful to other people’s time and efforts. I just can’t explain this feeling that washes over me every time I decide to not push through. It’s a mix between relief, guilt, and hopelessness. Despite the negative feelings that it inspires, flakiness is still something I do a lot.
But beyond all this is something far more worrying: what if I never take anything seriously because I flake a lot? What if I miss grand opportunities, promises of growth, a better life because I back out? What if one of the jobs I decide not to pursue is the one perfect for me? What if the one I’m meant to be with is someone I “unmatched” because I got anxious over “opening up”?
So many questions, so little answers. But I wanted, needed to write about this to untangle my thoughts and figure out this tendency of mine.
Do you flake a lot as well, and if so, why do you do it?