No For the Sake of Yes

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I couldn’t tell if it was the medication talking or if it was me talking but regardless of who/what it was, I liked what I was hearing and liked even more how I was feeling. Most of what I was hearing were things like “No, but thanks for asking.” Or “I think I will be okay, but thanks for thinking of me.” Or “I actually really don’t enjoy that, so I’m going to pass.” , “No I don’t like it here.”, “No thanks.”, and “I’d rather not.”  In some form or fashion I was saying “No” left and right.  Furthermore, it was not followed up by an explanation to appease or gather validation and support for my decision from the one making the offer.  That- that not needing to explain my decision felt absolutely glorious. It felt like one of the perks of being an adult, not needing to explain yourself, was an actual perk!

I don’t know about you, but it can be so very easy, particularly in times of transition, to say yes like it’s your 9-5. It usually results in our desire to belong, fit in, be perceived a particular way, etc. It’s usually very other focused. Yet as someone rounding out her second year of transition, I can tell you a habitual yes can do far more damage than the carefully selected, clearly communicated, non explained occasional no.  

Furthermore, when you get really good and clear at saying and sticking to the big No’s you will be surprised how easy it is to say the little no’s. For example, when I have told myself, “No I am not willing to be in an environment where gossip and negativity is the norm”, it’s easy to turn down certain social gatherings because one or two yeses taught me the environment was one I was committed to saying “No” to. Or a big one for me is my time. I have grown to value it so much more and so when I say “My time is invaluable. I will not use it to do things that don’t align with my life philosophy.” it’s really easy to say no to things that will eat up my time as opposed to being an investment of my time. For example, my lunch breaks are used for any and everything from conducting interviews for The Simply LIVEd Life, working on new print designs, researching, calling and speaking with people in my life who add to my sense of joy, reading, or even napping. If my day is long, it behooves me to get a nap in to be more productive later.  Valuing my time allows me to say no to anything that undervalues it.

Photo courtesy of Ethan James

Photo courtesy of Ethan James

This past weekend I said yes to going to the city for the day. This meant I said no to late night small town shenanigans.  I’d already had a late night Friday and here was no way if I was going to maximize my time in the city on Sunday I could do so by another late Saturday night, especially one that would have its fair share of drinking away the depressing reality of a small town where racism, sexism, and privilege are real and you don’t belong.  I was not willing to trade the energy I would need to engage in the space where I knew I belong for an environment with with folks who were rather confident they didn’t belong for one reason or another yet they weren’t quite sure how to get to places where they did.

Which leads me to the last big “No.” I have recently said “No” to things that don’t bring me joy. Part of me worries just a smidge that you will read that and think I am such a stereotypical  American- individualistic and self centered. For as much as I want you or anything else to think good things about me more times than not, I’d really prefer you think real things about me. The real thing about me is that I’ve simply come to accept that I want a joyful life which means I am going to have to cultivate that and hold on to that by all means necessary. It means continued commitment to the few simple things that cause my heart to smile.  It means saying no to the things that don’t bring me joy.  Right now I’ve got some things in my life that don’t bring me joy. I’m working on letting go of those things to make room for the things that do bring me joy.

The Simply LIVED Life has always been about the power to choose, particularly to choose to live well. Part of choosing life is choosing when to say “No,” knowing that it reaffirms our yes to the choice to live incredibly victoriously and emphatically.

Photo courtesy of  Rebecca

Photo courtesy of Rebecca

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