I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions – personally I think you should be working on your shit all year long – but something I want to start working on happens to coincide with the beginning of 2017, so here we are.
I want to start saying yes more. I used to practice this a lot when I worked at Kids Creative. It was my actual job: say yes to the idea, and then figure out how to make it happen. I did it a million times a day for six weeks every summer for eight years, and it definitely bled into the rest of the year. A loved one pointed out to me recently that I’m saying no a lot, and my first thought was what?! ME?! NEVER!! but the more I thought about it, the more right I realize they are.
See, I’ve been using anxiety as an excuse. I’m in this weird nebulous place where I’ve pretty much got a handle on it but the fear is still lurking deep down. It’s so much easier to say oh, I can’t do that because I might get anxious than it is to say Let’s do it, and if I get anxious, I can leave because, frankly, I’d prefer not to experience the anxiety at all. And because I defer to anxiety so much in my social life, I’m doing that everywhere else, too. And that’s not ok. It’s unreasonable of me to say no to every invitation and then wonder why people don’t invite me. It’s not fair to expect my partner or my friends to shoulder all the work of initiating plans and making it fun. And it’s making me into someone I don’t want to be: I don’t want to be that person who says no all the time. I don’t want to be that person with expectations that are so all over the map no one can make them happy. I don’t want to be that person who chooses, again and again, to sit on the couch and then feel like they’re in a rut.
I struggle with this a lot. How do I say yes and still manage the anxiety? How do I be spontaneous and not feel like I’m giving up something I need to help me feel good/normal/not anxious? I’m lucky that I have a partner who will not only deal with me saying no all the time, but will also bring it up and help me work through it and change the behavior. I feel extremely fortunate that he will always do the tough work; he always engages, he never said “later”. We may not always finish the conversation all in one go, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and sometimes that’s actually better in the long run. And because it’s been a long time since I’ve continually practiced saying yes, I asked him to help me.
Example: we went to our friends’ place last night to celebrate the new year. It would have been really easy to say no, given that we got in from our trip to Raleigh around 11pm the night before and the drive down was a difficult one for me(more on that later). I asked the dude to remind me that, if I said I didn’t want to go, I promised I’d say yes more and that this was a good, easy first step. We were hanging out with people we love dearly, we could leave any time we wanted, and I don’t go back to work until Tuesday, so it wasn’t like I was on a tight schedule. And it was awesome. I’m really glad we went, and I feel proud of myself for saying yes.
So that’s my
resolution next thing to work on. (Update: I’m doing pretty well at saying yes!) And because it’s Sunday, here’s your weekly roundup:
- This little girl who knows why New Year’s resolutions aren’t the way to go; it’s our every day choices that matter.
- This article on the invisible workload women do and the gender gap it creates.
- This story from The MOTH, wherein the storyteller is my saying yes hero.
- This snuggling puppy.