Welcome Back to my Vocabulary, “No”.

say no

“Sure, be right there!”, “I’ll make time!”, “What else do you need from me?”, “Of course I’ll be there!”, “I have nothing else going on!” , “Yes!”, “YES!!” – me.

I got my first job the summer I was 16. It was at a Cousins Subs in Greenfield, WI. I remember the new jeans I bought that would be ruined by grease, food, and mop water within a few months. I remember how much I would have rather been laying out in the sun. I remember how shy I was then, how it would take me a while to look someone in the eye.

One of the things I remember about being 16 was how much I wanted to PLEASE everyone, at work and otherwise. Not even in the sense of the work I was doing, but I wanted my co-workers to be impressed by the person I was.ย It was such a huge deal to me, in fact, that I would soak in everything they were saying and doing, so that I could reference it later, if a situation arose where I needed to be “cool”.

I reference my first job because it was around this time that I pretty much stopped thinking of myself and what I wanted and mostly considered what other people were thinking. And I NEVER said no to anyone that I wanted to impress. I was anything they wanted me to be, at least I tried. What an easily swayed age. You would think that even by being the “yes-man” so to speak, I would be happy by being involved, by going with the flow, by never telling anyone no. But I wasn’t. And I carried this attitude with me into adulthood. It was only a year ago that I realized how impossible it was for me to turn anyone down for any reason, and how badly I beat myself up whenever I had to. I also realized however, what little time I had for myself, and how unhappy I was that I rarely even considered myself before anyone else. I had my selfish moments, sure, but I don’t remember making many choices without first considering how it would affect everyone else.

When I look back at my slightly-awkward transition to adulthood, I cringe knowing that many of the things I did- the mistakes I made, things I tried, people I hurt, situations I found myself in… a vast majority of them were done because I had been asked to. And I had agreed.

Some very good friends of mine helped me realize that by always being there for everyone else, I was neglecting myself and robbing myself of happiness. Happiness that comes by saying, “Not this time, I would rather stay home tonight.” or “Maybe next time”. Happiness that comes with seriously contemplating what I need to be in harmony- body and soul. Happiness that comes with a quiet evening, when my little one is warm in his bed, and I am taking time for myself.

What a liberating feeling, knowing the only person that I ever have to say “yes” to is myself.


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