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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UNCC chapter.

There is a growing expectation that everybody is readily available 24/7. People are expected to be available to talk and text all the time, but that is just not the truth. Expectations are hard to live up to and texting back immediately is one of them. From the start of the pandemic people think that since we live a lot of our daily lives online we should  therefore always be ready to communicate. In reality everybody has had their lives paused, rewinded, and put through tragedy that texting back shouldn’t be a priority above their own well-being. 


Even without a raging pandemic or political instability that we’re currently in, there still shouldn’t ever be a time where you have to apologize for not responding because of taking time for yourself. Or the brushed over “I forgot” text filled with guilt, (though let’s be real sometimes that happens when we respond in our heads and forget we didn’t actually respond). There are multiple reasons a person may not text back immediately and every one is as valid as the next. Especially the reason that communicating with others can be overwhelming, draining, and the least of your worries at the time.


Not responding does not always mean you don’t care, or that you are ghosting them. It can mean that your mental health is demanding you to take time away from communicating with others. In today’s society, not responding is always the worst case scenario of a relationship. Jumping to conclusions, placing blame, and giving up on someone for taking days to respond is not right. Everyone may preach about mental health but they still won’t accept days later responses. If you stop and think about it, it could not have anything to do with the particular relationship, and it could deal with the mental health of the other not responding. It could be that in their state, the energy to have even a basic level conversation is exhausting and unbearable. That is okay. It should give a signal that maybe it is time to check in on them and even then their simple to no response is not something that should immediately be taken personally. It is healthy to take time and space for yourself when you don’t have the energy or mental capacity to talk with another, even if it’s a close friend. Taking time away from responding can even give back to a relationship because you can come back stronger, willingly, without guilt, and by being able to genuinely connect again. Forceful responses can create no room for connection and are based on guilt, and no conversation with another should be forced through mental exhaustion with guilt riding its back. 


Not texting back may be because you don’t have the energy. Communicating with others, no matter who they are takes energy even if they are a best friend or family member. This energy may be the thing that gets you to do the simple tasks in the day like eat, complete an assignment, or shower. That energy may take priority to your health rather than be extracted for a conversation. These fragile little amounts of energy you may have are okay to preserve for yourself rather than use up by opening up a text message and answering it to make it seem that you’re okay. There isn’t a need to put up a front that you’re okay when you can just not respond until you have the energy to express why you’re not okay or hold a conversation. It can also be overwhelming to talk about yourself and your emotions so it’s okay to take your space to figure your emotions out and share later. It’s okay to be running low on energy and it’s even more okay to use the last of your energy to take care of yourself. It can be extremely hard to do simple tasks that talking with others is unbearable. It’s okay to admit that for yourself and not respond. 


I say all of this and still understand how important it is to be there for others in order to keep relationships alive, rather than completely isolating yourself. It’s always nice to check up on friends but it can also be exhausting and overwhelming taking on extra emotional weight of another. It’s okay to tell a person very forwardly that you can’t handle communication right now. It’s even possible that if a close friend has contacted you and you feel comfortable enough maybe just say a quick “thank you for checking in, but I don’t have the energy right now. I will come back and be here for you soon.” This gives both you and your friend some peace in the situation. It also develops further in your relationship by opening the door for open communication, connections, and room for mental health acceptance. You’ll come back to your relationship in a better place ready to explain how you were feeling or just thank them for waiting by your side till you were better. By taking time off today from communicating you can create better communication and connections in your relationships tomorrow (or days after that). 


Communicating with others is sometimes unbearable and very overwhelming. You have to let go of the guilt of not texting people back. It can take work to communicate and make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. It isn’t your responsibility to always be ready for a conversation, for laughing, for meme sharing, and most importantly faking that you’re okay 24/7, it’s unrealistic and draining. You can take your space and time for your mental health. And even more so, you don’t have to fake it with an “I forgot” text or apologize for taking time for your mental health and energy. 


Isabella is a Communication Studies: Mass Media major with a double minor in WGST and WRDS. She studied abroad for a semester in London to please her adventurous side. Isabella hopes to get a job in the fashion industry. Lover of baking, dancing, photography, traveling, driving, reading, and browsing Pinterest and Youtube.
Emily Griffin (she/her) is a Senior at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a Special Education Major and a Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies Minor. Her writing mainly focuses on hot topic issues, female empowerment in all forms, and social media + all that comes with it. Her hobbies include grabbing a coffee and being a Virgo.