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The problem with planning

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As we enter the most tiresome weeks of the quarter, it’s great to make exciting plans with your friends. It gives you something to look forward to, something to push you through the days — a tiny removal from the whirlwind that may feel like it’s consuming you. I can’t speak for everyone else, but it’s wonderful to me. At least, in concept.

In reality, attempting (and sometimes not even succeeding) to make plans with your friends can be as mentally draining as the days you’re seeking refuge from. If everyone wants to do something, but no one wants to take initiative, the group is at an unfortunate standstill until someone chooses to abandon their passive state.

But of course, very few people really want to do this. Here we see social loafing at play outside of a psychology lecture or high school group project. If you aren’t too particular about the details, it’s much easier to take on a very minimal role, sitting back and allowing other people to make the plans for you, enjoying the fruits of their labor without exerting any real effort or losing any of your own time. Sadly, for the person who takes matters into their own hands, the ride isn’t quite as smooth and easy.

Perhaps I’m coming off as slightly bitter, but this is only because I am still recovering from the experience of trying to plan a trip to Los Angeles for spring break.

For a while, we only had vague discussions about doing something together for the break. When the topic came up, everyone was always excited, but nothing ever progressed further than roundtable exclamations of “Yes!” and “Totally!” This went on for longer than I would have liked, with everyone waiting for someone to take the reigns. Why didn’t we all just take the reins together? I’ll never know, but I also know that that’s a pretty unrealistic aspiration for any adolescent friend group.

So I proceeded to plan. We all know the pain of having no one respond when you send something in the group chat. What’s even more painful is when you’re sending time-sensitive information, relevant to everyone, but the responses are few and far between. I ended up having to go through about 3 rounds of searching for Air BNBs, because every time I found one, it would be booked before I could get confirmation from the rest of the group. And every time I started the process over again, I was just a little more frustrated than the last. At times I seriously wanted to just give up and abandon the trip in the ghost town that was our group message. I was losing so much time, and it wasn’t as if I didn’t have a full load of work of my own to get done as well. Still, at that point, I had invested too much energy into this trip to not have it come to fruition.

While this may have turned into more of a personal rant about a stress-inducing time in my life than I had originally planned, everything I’ve stated remains true. I’m officially calling out all of the social-loafers in every friend group, the ones who sit on their thrones twiddling their thumbs as options are presented on a silver platter by the measly planners. Yes, everything did come together in the end with my spring break plans, but I most certainly did not enjoy the work it took to get there. I love my friends, and honestly, if I had waited in the shadows for long enough, someone else probably would have stepped up to the plate themselves, but the weight of organizing something for an entire group should never be shifted to one singular person. Let’s all start taking initiative and sharing the load so no one is crushed under it. After all, we are in college. Life isn’t a middle school social studies project.

 

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.