I’ve recently been thinking about saying no. As a trying-to-quit people-pleaser, this was often hard for me. As someone who tended to need approval from others, I often said yes when asked to do things, join committees, and even attend a yoga retreat because I didn’t want to disappoint others. I have said yes to doing far too many things and somehow along the way they have hurt me, injured my sense of self-worth, and also my wallet.
I have said yes to volunteering in spaces where didn’t really want to, said yes to being okay with casual intimacy during my 20s, and said it was OK to work for an abusive manager before. I think I was too scared to say no. I thought women had to be OK with causal romantic relationships or that if I stood up to a leadership figure that I would lose my job. Looking back I wish I had quit that job and quit a relationship that didn’t make me feel good sooner than I did.
It’s never worth it. There are other jobs with better people. There are better people to date.
And recently I have been making my living as a freelance writer. Sometimes there are lots of projects that keep me busy. And sometimes there aren’t. And because there’s no guarantee of future work, I have said yes to projects that paid shit. Like really bad. Like .10 cents a word bad. No writer should ever, ever be OK with that. When an incredibly low-paying project arrived in my inbox recently, this time I told the editor I wasn’t comfortable with that. It might have been the first time I have turned down a project. But it felt good.
Saying no from a place of strength is saying yes to things that empower us and make us feel stronger. I almost wrote whole, but we are already whole. We just lost touch with that somewhere along that way. We forgot that just being in our bodies, just being on the planet makes us whole. Somehow along the journey of being human I think we forget that we’re already whole. That our beating heart makes us whole. As for me, I may have lost my voice a little and forgot that I can say no.
Maybe it’s the Internet. Maybe it’s social media that chips away at our self-esteem. Maybe it’s the beauty/fitness/advertising/ industry that tears women down and sets up impossible standards and leaves us feeling inadequate. Maybe it’s the fact that the idea of “having it all” is just a myth, that working full-time in the home or outside the home is exhausting. That getting through a Wednesday can be exhausting. Or maybe it’s just being a person. Living presently and in the best way we know how. Even in the face of grief or terrible political times.
Maybe it’s all of it.
Yet, through it all, we’re still standing. Through shitty jobs and shitty relationships and not enough kale and not allowing ourselves to sometimes trust ourselves, we’re still here.
And we can keep practicing self-respect until we don’t need to practice it because it will just come part of us.
I also deleted facebook from my phone. It felt good.