Saying No

You guys. I did a thing. 

I said no. 

I’m still in shock. I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever said no to anything in my entire life. Years of being told to say yes to every opportunity presented my way turned it into a solidified habit. And it was a habit that I used to define myself. Taking opportunities brought me a sense of happiness, especially those opportunities that presented them self in an unsolicited manner. 

But taking all those opportunities also brought some serious emotional exhaustion. I have been a perpetual roller coaster, the thrill of having a new project and focus, the confusion about what to do, the sense of purpose, then overwhelming hopelessness, excitement and belonging, typically culminating in crying in a bottomless pit of despair when I’d taken on way too much – only to finish and forget all about that when the next yes escaped from me.  This compulsion to agree has managed to cloud what I really believe in and what I’m passionate about – I let my interests and passions be dictated by whatever opportunity turned up on my door. 

And then suddenly, I was asked to take on the kind of project that only a year ago I would have leapt on – an opportunity to run a huge event, to be part of something, to be completely consumed with a group of people by a singular focus. And immediately I just knew the answer was no. 

I was so confused by this response that I obviously had to discuss it at length with the boyf – who was patient for a while, but was definitely over the subject before I was (I do have an amazing capacity to talk about me for an extended period of time). But the saying ‘if it’s not a hell yeah it’s a no’ was at the forefront of my mind. And it took me 24 hours to come to terms with it. But I did it. I said no. 

It’s an exhilarating and I feel so free. I’ve slowly been refining my interests and passions, and this no was another step in the right direction in coming up with a core definition of what I believe in. 

End preach. But I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced a similar sense of defining your purpose through saying no in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Saying No

  1. tenleygwen says:

    A well-placed “no” is one of the best gifts you can give yourself! Well done.

    My biggest “no” was to withdraw from a Ph.D. program I had come nearly to the end of — only had half of a dissertation to write. (Ha, “only”!) But I had struggled for years because I wasn’t doing the program for me, I was doing it for others’ opinions of me. Ultimately, I realized that I already have a full-time career, a kiddo, a personal life full of friends and love and joy … and none of it related to the degree at all anymore. I overcame that sense that I’d be “throwing away” the years I’d committed to it, and I withdrew. After all, a big part of the journey was the knowledge I gained, the people I met, the challenges I overcame on the way through the program, and no lack of a fancy degree would take those away from me.

    There’s much to be said for being open to opportunity, but it should be the right opportunity for you.


  2. GingernFreckles says:

    Saying No can be so difficult when you are trying to impress your bosses. I have come to the realization that I am not the go to person. I am the clean up man. I am generally asked to take over a project that is either failing or about to fail due to lack of leadership. I recently was very aware of a project and its status. It was a matter of time before I was asked to step in. I was then invites to a “Update” meeting, and I knew what that meant. I walked in sat down and before my boss could even get the words out my response was as follows verbatim:


    I went on to say.

    “I am not accepting responsibility for this project. One can not learn how to fix their mistakes if someone else is coming in and fixing them. You know I am a team player and you are well aware of my experience and expertise on the matter, however I am beginning to feel offended that I am your #2. Please, let me know when I am your number 1 for these types of projects and I will be more than happy to oblige.”

    And I walked out feeling so good about my self. I heard the room was silent for about 5 whole minutes when I left the room.


    PS I love your blog. Found it as I am trying to do a Bullet Journal reboot.


    • Emily says:

      Love that gutsiness! Especially since you had already identified your place and role in the office and weren’t comfortable with it. I hope in time and in the right circumstance I can take on that lesson!

      Liked by 1 person

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