I’ve had a week, y’all. Lots of ups and downs, personally and professionally. So when it came to writing my weekly post, a big part of me thought … “No. I don’t want to.”
Obviously, I wrote the post because you’re reading the post (thank you!), but I’ll be honest and say it’s not coming easily. I haven’t done much in the way of cleaning or cooking or organizing in the past few days, so I’ll have to write about my feelings instead. And friends, I have many of them.
Thinking about a thing I didn’t really have the energy to do got me thinking about the many other things that, as I’ve gotten older and very marginally wiser, I’ve actually stopped doing because I just didn’t want to. The things, people, and obligations that I finally said no to.
For the liberated amongst you, saying no has become pretty easy (or maybe has always been easy, if you’re in the like top 5%?). And that’s amazing! But for me, it was and continues to be really hard to say no. There are probably two big reasons for this: I care too much about what other people think of me, and I reeeaaaallly want to make people happy.
Now maybe you are one of the lucky few who don’t really care about what people think about you. If so, an honest and hearty congratulations to you (with a smidgeon of side-eye and jealousy tbh). I am not one of those people. And that makes it really hard for me to, as my DARE officer told me, just say no.
Still, in recent years, I’ve gotten a bit better at saying no and, shall we say, going my own way. A lot of it is down to getting older, a bunch of talk therapy, and playing Brené Brown audiobooks on repeat. But it’s still tough. I have to work at it and decide whether I really want to do something, and then once I’ve made my decision, I have to effectively and politely communicate it. Then, toughest of all, I have to stick to it. I’ve got a few methods/concepts/thoughts for doing these things, which I will naturally now bullet-point:
- “No thank you, not today!” My nephew started saying this, and it’s kind of become a family motto. If you don’t want to, just firmly and politely say “No thank you, not today!”
- Time and energy are finite. There was recently a TikTok discussion about “revenge bedtime procrastination,” a phenomenon where people stay up super late doing not much of anything to get back at others and themselves for being constantly busy. We need time to respect our need for downtime, which means we sometimes have to say no. Respect your own boundaries!
- “Good for her! Not for me.” Again and again, I come back to this quote from Amy Poehler’s amazing book Yes, Please. We don’t have to tear down others’ choices to validate our own, and we don’t have to follow someone else’s lead just because.
- You deserve to take up space in the world too! I have to tell myself this a lot. I get stuck thinking about how my life affects others, but that’s not really fair to myself. Don’t I (and you!) deserve the same consideration we give our friends and family?
To be fair, I said yes to writing this post, mainly because it matters to me and I ultimately decided I wanted to. But I like to think that, if I really needed to, I could say no.
Thanks for reading!