Ever seen that movie "Yes Man?"
Well, lately I've been living in a similar manner, except, if my life were a book, they might just call this chapter,"No, Really."
So here it is.
How I learned to say,"no" and not feel guilty about it.
And instead, learned how to say,"yes" to a life all my own.
It may seem silly, writing a blog post on such a simple thing as, "no" but actually, saying no can be really hard. For many, many reasons. But I also know that it can be liberating.
It's so funny what I can say,"no" too. I can say,"no" to alcohol, weed, drugs, drama etc. So easily. I never care what people think about me when I decline those things. If they think I'm lame because I don't drink etc. simply because I don't want to, then that's their issue.
But it is so silly to think of all the things I could almost never say, "no" to. Dates, events, too many work hours, lower wages than I could have gotten, trying to be there for everyone all the time, giving and giving and giving. And never taking the time to give back to myself.
I used to think that my happiness was somehow linked entirely with the happiness of those I loved.
So I did what I could to help "make" them happy. If you were to have called me a "people pleaser", to an extent, you would have been right. But pleasing people was not about acceptance or anything like that for me. It was about my fear that somehow I might inadvertently cause someone pain and sorrow.
So then I started a pattern of frantically trying to live life and be everywhere and see everyone and give to anyone that asked for help. I would do that for a few weeks and then I would spend three weeks in isolation just binge watching 90210 (Lord, help me.) and reading book after book just to escape. Ignoring text messages, phone calls, emails, school work, class even my very best friends and closest family members. Because I would always get to the point where I just COULDN'T. No matter what it was.
Then I would start everything all over again.
I never thought my interactions with people were fake but then I realized that if I kept giving when I had nothing left then it was like I was just printing out paper money without anything in my treasury to back it up. So it was valueless. And eventually it would lead to collapse.
The Great Depression, anyone?
So what happens when your economy collapses? Rebuild to make things stronger and to fix old flaws that went unnoticed until then. Try new things. Take it slow. Because it takes time.
I eventually started to be brave.
Saying,"no" in a world where offense is taken easily, opportunities are lost almost as quickly as they are presented and when it seems like if you don't say, "yes" you'll lose everything, takes courage.
I realized I didn't owe anyone anything. But that still didn't stop me from wanting to give back to them. And that is okay. Actually, giving "simply because" has been more fulfilling than any other motive for giving that I have experienced.
I'm no Mother Theresa.
I'm just someone who realized I needed to love and give to myself and others in equal measure in order to live a balanced life. It's not about forgetting about everyone. It isn't about becoming unfeeling and selfish. It's about loving yourself AND others. Because if you don't love yourself how in the world can you even begin to TRULY love others?
I can't tell you when it happened but all of a sudden my life seemed entirely my own. Full of opportunities to share it with others, love more fully and not settle. No more giving to people who only tear me down. No more asking anyone for permission to make my own choices.
I decided to stop running away.
And I started saying,"yes" to the things that make me truly, truly happy.
Night walks with my closest friends, going to farmers markets, I quit my terrible job to go back to school. I went to Thailand for a few months. I started enjoying, fully, my morning cup of Crio Bru. I started reading books I wanted to read and started being okay with NOT finishing books that I just didn't like.(Yeah, that's right. I now have an "Abandoned Books" bookshelf on my Goodreads account.)
One of my worst fears is becoming an island. And I used to think that, "no" was water in a moat surrounding me. That, "no" somehow separated me from everything.
Now I know that a well-placed,"no" is a bridge to somewhere else.
Somewhere I want to be. A place with it's own set of problems and adventures. A place where there are still battles, but ones I don't mind fighting because they are for things I believe in.
Accompanied by people I want to be with. Doing things that make me happy.
A well-placed,"no" can be a fortress against some pretty bad stuff. That,"no" doesn't have to be a road-block.
That a well-placed,"no" can actually offer more opportunity than a half-hearted, counterfeit,"yes."
I'm not Queen of, "No Land." I still say, "yes" a lot.
Because a lot of the time,"No" can help you find something you want to say, "Yes" too.