I saw a post on Face Book recently and it said something along the lines of:
‘When someone asks you do to something, and that something will take you away from working towards your dreams, don’t be afraid to firmly, but politely, say no.’
It resonated with me in a huge way, because I am a person who, up until recently, would always say yes.
Yes, I can do that for you!
Yes, I will work those extra shifts to help you out!
Yes, I can commit to that particular project (even if it means that I send myself into exhaustion in the process).
Yes, yes, yes!
Even when it came at the expense of the time I had managed to set aside for something that was very important to me- writing and yoga.
My writing time isn’t important to anyone else, but it sure as hell means the world to me. It’s my sanctuary, my creative kingdom, my happy place. The combination of Yoga and writing has given me the sense of self worth and accomplishment that I have longed for my entire life.
No writing and no yoga makes Sarah one cranky bovine! Just ask my family, they’ll tell you!
After reading that quote, I decided that it would become my new mantra. I decided that my time was special and important, and I, of all people, should be allowed to decide how it is spent and to whom it is given. I shouldn’t feel that I have to give it to people for fear that they would judge or criticise me if I didn’t say yes to them.
My first test was my kid’s school fair. Last year I organised the entire class stall by myself and was very grateful to have other mums and our teacher help out on the day. But it was a long day, of which I only took 20 minutes away from the stall, to watch my boy’s Karate demonstration.
This year I was asked to be on a committee for one of the stalls, which held weekly meetings in the six weeks leading up to the fair, to donate to all of my boy’s class stalls (4) with either goods or cash, as well as doing several shifts on each stall on the day.
What was my answer?
Yes, I will donate goods or cash. I will happily do that. I will bake my little fingers to the bone, no problem.
But no, thank you, I do not wish to be on the committee. I don’t have the time to give to that project without taking time away from other things that I am already committed to, (namely my Yoga and writing. My sanity.)
Also, due to my commitment to my stall last year, I am not doing any shifts on the day either. This year, I am spending the day with my kids, watching them have fun. Next year I will be happy to take on a bigger workload again, but not this year. No, thank you.
How did it feel to say ‘no’?
Fucking liberating! I actually took control of the use of my own time, and I said the word ‘no’ freely and without guilt!
Did people judge or criticise me for my decision?
I don’t know and I don’t care. What others think of me is their business, not mine.
So where am I going with this?
Quite simply, don’t be afraid to put yourself first at times, especially when it means having to say ‘no’. If that extra commitment takes you away from something you love doing, something that is your dream, whatever it is – gardening, running, singing, painting, reading, adding to your merkin or megalodon porn collection – and that something makes you feel alive, free, happy or just a little less insane, then don’t be afraid to say a very firm, but polite, ‘no’.