When I turned 24 (holy sh*t, people, that was two years ago), I told myself I'd start saying 'no' to more things. I'm a person that is energized by other people's passions and mutual agreement -- and I hate letting people down -- so I end up doing a lot of things I don't want to do just to appease people.
While I look back over the years (uhm, where are they going?), I think I do a better job of saying no these days. For example, sometimes I say no just because I genuinely don't want to do something.
However, I can lose my resolve quickly. If I seem to be upsetting people by not showing up, I can easily break (the above screen shot is not one of them, as they respected my no-ness). Or if people ask me three times to come to lunch, I'll go. I don't want to let people down when the only problem is that I am not in the mood or that I want to spend money. It's because I want to go where I'm wanted.
Sometimes, though, saying yes takes its toll on me.
I distinctly remember one day in modern history: I donated blood, despite having a history of passing out. I have O blood and people need it. Plus, someone asked me to go with them. Yes seemed like the only reasonable response. I then worked late to make up for the time I was donating. And then on the way home, I donated all the spare change I could gather to firemen who asked for it.
People say donating makes you feel happy, but I had a headache, no spare change in my car anymore and was burnt out from a long day of work. I was anything but happy or fulfilled from giving. I cried a bit and laid on the sofa, wondering where all my resolve went. Where did my burning no-ness go? What else did the world want to drain of me, other than money, blood, sweat and tears?
After I composed myself, I talked to my mom. She told me to stop donating if it made me feel so shitty (in different words, obviously). Yet, I couldn't do that. Despite feeling bad for a night after it, and feeling like those karma points weren't adding up, I kept at it. I've donated a couple more times since then. Why?
Because I'm a yes-woman.
I like telling people yes. I like making people's days. I like people smiling when they think of me, and I like people wanting to spend time with me. I like having a blood type that's good to donate. I like saving people's lives. I like giving my spare change to firemen. I like working late to do a good job. I like caring.
What I figured out in my down moment is that being a yes-woman isn't bad either, as long as it's in balance. Saying yes a lot will mean some days I'm just tuckered out. Some days I'm going to over-commit and come home, ready to crash. Some days I'm going to absorb people's problems and cry over them. Some days I'm going to volunteer to help when I don't want to. Some days I'm going to do shit I don't want to do.
Thinking about it as I write, my yes-ness might be a facet of being Type B (personality, we've already established I've got that good O blood). You can't go-with-the-flow if you say no a lot. Plus, Cazey and I had this weird saying in college, "I did it for the story." Good stories don't begin with, "No."
And that's all okay, as long as I say no sometimes too. Sometimes I'll sit out a game to let my ankle heal, even though my team needs me. Sometimes I'm going to go to bed early and miss girls' night. Sometimes I'm going to bail on a tentative plan to write or reflect. Sometimes I'm going to be late while I compose myself. Sometimes I'm going to make people go to yoga on my birthday so I can refuel my vibes.
Because it's good to be a yes-woman.
Saying yes a lot can be tiring. As in, "Sure I'll drive to Nashville with you at 2:30AM the weekend before the week I go to Denver" kind of exhausting. But the silver lining there is I went to Nashville with two friends and had a great time. Realistically, most vacations I've been on lately have been a result of my yes-ness.
Yes, I'll go to focus groups.
Yes, I'll play on the team.
Yes, I'll make a craft for the party.
Yes, I'll come eat ribs.
Yes, I'll grab a drink with you.
Yes, I'll say yes, and you should too.
Yes, do it for the story. Do it for the experience. Even if you don't love it, try it. Learn from it, grow from it. Yes is living.