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Some dear friends were recently complimenting me on my ability to say “no.”
I was surprised yet pleased, because saying “no” doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to work at it like I’ve had to work on my posture or my penmanship, since saying “yes” is my reflex.
My sister and I have long shared a joke about the a nodding “yes” that almost indiscernibly segues into the gentle “no” — complete with the casual shaking of the head. When we observed people doing the “yyyeahhhhhhhnnnnnoooooo,” it cracked us up because it was so relatable. Neither of us really knew how to say “no.”
For years, I would automatically answer “yes” to invitations — Yo Alix, do you want to go ice fishing at 4 a.m.? (beat) Um, yeah — because I didn’t have the skills or confidence to kindly decline. God forbid I should offend someone. I mean, what if they don’t like me? Everyone has to like me, right? Right?
I would accept jobs, social obligations, or projects that I really wasn’t feeling for one reason or another but felt powerless to refuse. I really love people. I don’t want to let them down. It seemed much easier to let me down than let others down. Continue reading →