The Lost Art of Silently Leaving

2023; new year, new me. The year to hone the Irish Goodbye.


As the icon Kim Cattrall once said, ‘I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself.’ Truer words were never spoken. As someone that is more likely to say yes than no to attending an event, I love a good time. My friends are all very much the same; therefore, I rarely need to use my profound skill in this art. Regardless, 99% of the time, I will see something through. Whether this means being the last person on the dancefloor at the end of the best night of my life, making conversation with someone at a friend's baby shower that would clearly totally rather be anywhere else, or sticking through the most grueling shift at work, I am not a quitter. My mother most certainly did not raise a bitch.

However, in 2023, I cannot express how much I am not up for boring events. Time is money and we’re not going to be alive forever. Thus, why on earth would you stay at something that is just not worthwhile? So, whatever your new year’s resolution is, hear me out. Why 2023 is the year I will perfect the subtle art of silently leaving.

Now I must preface this when I say ‘silently leaving,’ I mean leaving without telling anyone where you’re going. The ol' Irish Goodbye. To perfect this art, you must perfect the art of texting after the fact. We don’t want anyone to think you’ve been kidnapped. Also, this art cannot be practiced when the event in question is a duo event. If it’s just you and one other, abandoning is not cool. This technique is best practiced in groups of 4+. Finally, I can't guarantee this won't cause friendship drama, so exercise discretion. With all this in mind, let us begin.

Picture, if you will: the night has come. You have promised a friend that you’ll come on a night out and slowly realize that you’re not up for it but psych yourself up: you want to give it a shot. So you get all dolled up (slay) and head out. You arrive at the bar, and it is NOT your scene. Loads of your friend’s friends are there that you vaguely know of. Thus, that brings the classic British “how are you?’ Yeah alright’” arc of the evening, probably shouted over boomingly loud garage music. After this enthralling two-minute encounter, you grab a drink and stand around in a group. Some people are chatting, but most are sitting looking at their phones or staring into the abyss. Someone cracks a joke that isn’t really funny. Scattered laughter makes a glancing appearance which leads back into the tense silence smothering the group.

What do you do? Firm it? Get smashed despite knowing that it’s January, you’re skint from Christmas and nobody else will dance with you? Do you succumb to the silence and become a prisoner of the social war that’s being waged upon you by the army of awkwardness you find yourself in? 2022 me would have firmed it. My old rationale was "it’s not a motive, so make it one." This meant drinking and starting to chat even though you feel like a bit of a plonker talking to people with a vague idea of and even vaguer interest in what you’re saying. However, seven days ago, I shed this shell. I’m 23, and I’m not getting any younger. I am through with succumbing to boredom.

I grab my coat, grab my friend and explain the situ. I’m sorry, but I can’t firm this and that I’m heading off. I’d rather not be a fun sponge, but it’s not my friend’s fault this night is pants. I instruct them to wait 10 minutes, and then if anyone asks, tell them I’m off. If you’re passionately bored or an inch away from awkward overload, skip that step. Then I announce to someone who stood near me that I was going to the toilet, and I never returned. Goodbye. Nobody is being abandoned, and nobody is being left alone in an unsafe state, but this is just simply not a situation that is beneficial or enjoyable to me. Explaining to the whole group that I'm simply not having fun or making up some half-baked excuse is not feasible or pleasant over the blaring music. Let's not suffer. Thus, just leave.

Perhaps this appears selfish; I suppose it is a bit. But in a cost-of-living crisis, with more COVID variants rearing their ugly heads and with my youth dripping away, I’m not wasting my time or money attending something that fills me with about as much youthful invigoration as a trip to the bank. So, next time you’re at an event, think, “would Kim Cattrall firm this?” If the answer is no, it’s time to center your Zen and hone the art of silently leaving. Whether or not you soft launch it and tell one person, so nobody freaks, or you raw dog it and just head for the toilets and magically end up in a cab home, there are multiple paths open to you. All are valid in the Art of Silently Leaving and in this 2023, it’ll likely be worth it. There, I said it.