Photo Illustration by Michelle Nelson
Photo Illustration by Michelle Nelson

Excuses: they can be terrible, awkward or downright ridiculous.

We’ve all been guilty of coming up with bad excuses at one time or another. We use them to get out of social obligations and explain to professors why we didn’t finish the project that we had three weeks to do.

Now, it isn’t hard to recognize some bad excuses. For example, if you tell your professor, “My dog ate my homework,” they will probably do one of two things: stare at you until you backtrack and give them the real reason you didn’t finish your homework or shake their head, laugh and walk off.

Other bad excuses can be harder to recognize. At first, they seem good and solid, the kind of excuse that won’t leave people questioning you or your motives. Although soon they begin to crumble and work against you.

Bad excuses result from a variety of different reasons. Some of us are just bad liars, and there’s no way around it. We can’t come up with an excuse to save our lives, let alone explain why we didn’t finish our assignment. Some might not have enough time to come up with a good excuse on the spot, while others just don’t care enough to make up a good excuse.

The following excuses are ones to avoid. These excuses, and variations of them, aren’t likely to get you out of doing anything.

1) I can’t go because I’m sick – Throw in a couple of fake coughs and you’ve got yourself an excuse reminiscent of the one used by Karen Smith in the popular “Mean Girls” movie. This is typically an excuse used to get out of social obligations. Success is unlikely when using this excuse. Your friends are going to realize something is up if you conveniently come down with a sickness right at 7 p.m. when you’re all supposed to be out at dinner. Also, overusing this excuse can leave you at a loss for what to do when you really are sick. It is best to avoid this excuse at all costs.

2) My alarm didn’t go off – While it is true that alarms really don’t get set properly all the time, this is still a pretty bad excuse. Most people won’t believe that your alarm didn’t go off. Especially if it just so happens to not go off on the day you were supposed to turn in a report or attend another bridal shower. The reality is more likely that you didn’t set your alarm because you didn’t want to get up early and go, or that you hit snooze so many times that you deactivated your alarm.

3) I don’t have any clean clothes to wear – Really? It’s hard to pretend you didn’t know you would need clean clothes for something that has been planned for weeks. Don’t try to get out of a wedding, birthday party or trip to ballet with this gem. Only use this excuse if it is a very last minute invite, and you really did just smudge pizza sauce all over your last clean shirt. If this isn’t the case, then toss this excuse out the window.

4) I have to drive my friend to the ER – This one should be self-explanatory. If you have time to tell someone that you can’t go because you’re driving someone to the ER, then you’ve already dug yourself into a hole. A planned trip to the ER is enough to raise a few eyebrows. Real emergencies don’t run on a schedule.

5) I didn’t know it was due – Your professor isn’t going to be extending the due date because you didn’t know the project was due, especially because they have probably talked about the project and its due date for the past month. In this case, it actually might be better to tell your professor that you finished your project, but your dog ate it. Even if it doesn’t work, the second excuse might actually get you a few laughs. While it is hard to avoid all excuses, at least try to avoid the bad ones. If you find yourself continually using bad excuses, it might be time to try a little honesty… or just work on some better excuses.

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