Once upon a time, pre-pandemic and one less child ago, I did a thing. I called it “The Summer of No”.
Contrary to my usual “we can do everything” attitude, I adopted an automated response of no to anything that wasn’t imperative to day to day life. And it was glorious.
As life goes, it lasted that one summer and then as soon as school started again, I found myself falling into the instinctual yes trap all over again.
And moreover, the busyness felt more…well, busy. Our kids started new activities, I found out I was pregnant with our son, my husband’s schedule changed. Yes, yes, yes.
People would invite us to things or I would be asked to do something with the preface, “I know how busy you are but…” and even though that served as sort of an out/opportunity to say no, it was like my mouth couldn’t physically form the word anymore.
And then, in the peak of the madness, the pandemic entered stage left.
And in an instant, all of the outcomes of my yes responses were no more.
It was like a get out of jail free card (replaced by crippling anxiety around preserving both our mental and physical health, ever present fear of the unknown, and homeschooling but I digress…).
I remember thinking…this time, though terrifying, is a gift. It was like getting off a treadmill and re-learning how to just walk through life versus constantly running. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss the simplicity of that time. There wasn’t anything to say yes to.
Now that life is relatively normal again, I wish I could say I am better at honoring the importance of saying no, but that would be a lie.
My first inclination anytime anything is asked of me is to find a way to say yes.
One thing I can say I am better about is pausing and considering the need to respond with a yes. If it is an ask to a group of people, why do I feel pressure to say yes when a no response would be better for me? What is the downstream impact of saying yes to this thing?
If you also struggle to say no, another thing I have to remind myself is, I am more than just a constant yes.
My success as a human being is not defined by how many things I can fit into a day, week, month. People will still love and appreciate you if you need to say no.
And you absolutely do not have to justify a no under the guise of making other people feel better about it.
I may not have another Summer of No but as I talked about in my first post, I can definitely strive toward a Season of Enough.