As an Adult, What Have You Chosen to Stop Doing?

One of the perks about being an adult is that you have a lot of freedom to choose what you want to do on any given day or night (particularly non-working hours). Instead of your parents determining what you can eat, where you can go, who you can see, etc, you can just do it.

Something I’ve learned as as 37-year-old adult is that I also have the freedom not to do things. No one’s making you eat broccoli anymore. If you don’t like painting, you can pay someone to paint your home. There might be consequences, but if you don’t want to exercise, there’s no one dropping you off at basketball camp. And maybe when a friend asks you to take care of their dog for the weekend, you feel fine saying no, because you just really don’t want to do that?

I think there’s a fine line, though, because some of the things I don’t like doing may impact my relationships and friendships. Here are some examples of things I’ve started to choose not to do that may be going too far:

  • Wedding reception Jamey may be a thing of the past.

    Watching fireworks: I was recently invited to a fireworks-viewing party. The thing is, I really don’t enjoy loud noises, and the visual display just isn’t all the exciting to me. But should I do that type of thing anyone to reinforce friendships? Maybe?

  • Anything involving crowds: Some people thrive in the energy of being surrounded by other people. I, however, spend that time plotting my escape.
  • Wedding receptions: This one might weigh on me the most. I recently attended a wedding ceremony, but I chose not to attend the reception. It’s one of those things that I felt obligated to do when I was younger, but it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I don’t like small talk, I barely drink alcohol, I don’t enjoy dancing, and, as I mentioned, I don’t like crowds. This is a tough one, though. What do you think? Is this one of those things you just have to suck up and do?
  • Helping friends move: I pretty much have no qualms about not doing this. When I was younger, there was a currency involved with moving: I help you move, and when the time comes, you help me move. But I haven’t moved in 12 years, and when I do, I will be hiring people to pack everything up, put it in a truck, and transport it to the destination.
  • Public speaking: I get really nervous leading up to public speaking engagements (though panels aren’t too bad). However, I already spend a ton of time and effort speaking to the public through my blogs (7 a week, here and on and through my videos (4 a week). It’s not like I’m a hermit. I’d just rather not get up on stage.
  • Entertaining out-of-town guests: Have you ever had someone come into town of their own accord and expect to be entertained for a few days? It’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re a social butterfly, but I have stuff to do. At the same time, I don’t want to take for granted that visitors want to see me, so I either invite them to things I’m already doing or I make time for an unrushed meal with them.
  • Competitive sports: I play soccer far less than I’d like to, but when I do, it must be pickup soccer. Unless something abnormal happens, I typically walk away from pickup sports feeling refreshed and invigorated. However, if there are any stakes–even a casual kickball league–there’s something about the competitive energy that I really don’t enjoy. I end up dwelling on little mistakes and moments instead of finding joy in my team’s highlights. So I’ve learned to say no to competitive opportunities.

What do you think? How do you draw the line between things you truly don’t enjoy doing and things you should do despite your lack of desire? What are some things you’ve essentially stopped doing because of your freedom to say no?