When I was a young child I used to adore reading. I breezed through everything from the Junie B. Jones series to The Babysitter’s Club and whatever else I could get my hands on. Once I graduated and had more free time, I promised myself I would read more. I did but I felt like it wasn’t enough which lead another goal being established in my plan for a great new year. This upcoming year I plan to read two books a month. I had heard great things about the book “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes so I added it to my list of books to read before 2017 ended. Now I haven’t read the book just yet but based on the title I believe the book will be about saying yes to experiences or things that one would typically say no to in order to live a more exciting life. I do believe that everyone should get out of their comfort zone every once and while and say yes to non-harmful new experiences (I say non-harmful because I don’t care how many self-development books I read, if you offer me a line of coke in the bathroom at True North I’m going to say “No Thanks!”) However, what happens when you begin to say yes so often that your ability to say no is obsolete?
I’m someone who struggles with saying no to people especially my loved ones and people I care about. At different parts of my life this has led me to be exhausted 90% of the time and always dragging myself to complete some task I don’t want to do, a night out on the town when I’d rather stay home, or any other thing I committed to when I knew I shouldn’t have. With a half-assed presence I would count down the seconds, minutes, hours, until I was able to go home. 80% of the time I would regret leaving my house and the 20% of the time I would actually end up enjoying myself never made up for the majority of the time I was not feeling it. I usually ended up feeling overbooked, tired, and regretful.
This need to say yes to everyone and my fear of letting people down is one of my more stressful flaws. Combine this with my FOMO (fear of missing out) and I was always out doing something and really never had time to myself. “I’m everywhere and nowhere all at once” I would say half-jokingly because the times I was somewhere about a quarter way through I would be thinking about the next obligation I had on my never ending to-do list.I remember back in undergrad I would swear “once I graduate I’m only doing things EYE want to do and never being pressured into attending something I didn’t want to.” *Cue laughter from the studio audience* I know, it’s a funny joke. I still struggle with saying no to people. I still struggle with overbooking myself and making commitments I immediately regret but my being a person of my word gets in the way of me backing out. This is why I take the commitments I make so seriously because I know once I say I’m going to do something, I mean it and will not be able to back out of it.
So help me God, I have to learn how to do this now. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t just be shooting people down left and right and become completely selfish. Often times that is impossible simply because of our obligations to family, our employers, organizations, or whomever. I will, however, decide the pros and cons of things that are optional before I commit to them and at some point learn how to say no without feeling guilty. That’s my right. Often times in society we are made to believe that being selfish or looking out for one’s self is wrong. It’s not. If you don’t look out for you, who will? I think it takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to be able to recognize that we can’t do everything for everybody and ourselves which is why it probably took me this long to realize it. While saying yes to new experiences is a great way to live our lives and grow, it also takes growth to realize you can’t drag yourself to everything and put yourself last. At some point, we have to strive for balance and equilibrium in our lives and manage our yes’s and our no’s accordingly.
Have you ever struggled with telling people no or that you didn’t want to do something? How did you manage to convince yourself it was okay to say no? How did you fight the urge to explain why? Sound off in the comments!