By Afia Kwakyewaa Owusu-Nyantakyi

When I was growing up, I used to watch my mum dress up for funerals, dinners and weddings on weekends. Funerals especially, felt so far away from me. I could not even process that one day I would have friends pass away, at any age. I lived for the high school parties.  As for weddings, I simply needed to be there if my cousins were going to be there too. We just wanted to steal food from under the table and run around. I am 30 now and I get sent invitations to events on a regular basis. My natural inclination used to be to get excited and say, “Yes girl, I’ll be there with a bottle”.

Yes, well, do not take it personally if I feel different now. The truth is I still want to be invited but please do understand if I decline an invitation.
We need to come to an understanding that as much as we want to celebrate each other’s wins, special moments, and accomplishments, support can not be given, if you are not in a great place yourself.

When I saw the tweet below, I was screaming YAASSS!  in agreement. Our social construct puts a lot of pressure on friendships, to show up, be supportive in kind and monetary terms each time, when sometimes, it simply is not great timing.

I know friends who have fallen out for this very reason. However, please understand people have varying sets of goals. Someone is trying to get financially stable, cut costs, as it were. Someone is getting over a breakup. Someone is burying their loved one. Someone is fighting an addiction. Someone is trying to make an impression at a new job and needs to put in extra time. My point is we must be sensitive (without being intrusive) enough to understand that not all of us can be emotionally or physically available to fulfill these expected commitments all the time.

I mean let’s be real, the current wedding culture IS pricey. It is expensive and can be horribly inconvenient. As a bridesmaid, your part involves paying for your outfit plus hair and make-up. Before that, we will even have to throw the bridal shower for the bride-to-be.  All this is great fun and memorable until you realize you are raking up a cost you didn’t budget for. Therefore ladies who fall in this category must be upfront about the current situation and let their loved ones know that it simply isn’t a good time.

A very close friend of mine is about to get married this month. In every way I am stoked for her. I cannot wait for it to happen because it’s one of her dreams. But I simply had to let her know that, while I wish her the very best, I simply could not be there, on the bridal team. It was certainly not under my control. The wedding was at a stage in my life that required me to be selfish in taking care of myself emotionally and financially. It took a bit of talking to appreciate where I was coming from. I am not saying it’s perfect anywhere. But if saying ‘No’ once in a while allows you to concentrate on the pressing areas in your life that need fixing, it may just be worth the awkward refusal. It should give you peace. Be available when you are able.