I have never been brilliant at saying no.
‘Can you work late tonight?’ No problem, I say, while secretly rearranging my plans for dinner.
‘Do you mind helping me with something?’ Of course, I respond, before finding out what they are asking for will take 3-days to complete.
‘Can you help organise the school summer fair/christmas fair/end-of-term cake sale?’ Sure, I reply and mentally set my alarm for 5.30am.
‘Can I borrow the Prada shoes you wore on your wedding day?’ Ok… *sobs*
Why do I find it difficult to say no?
For such a small word, it gets so easily lodged in my throat, cloaked in a heavy layer of guilt and making me feel I am about to let everyone down.
I don’t want to appear rude, I hate uncomfortable confrontations and I try to avoid unnecessary criticism. I much prefer to maintain an upbeat attitude and leave a positive impression.
I have no idea why.
People say no to me all the time and I rarely feel resentful towards them. In fact, the Greek God(zilla) makes it seem like an art form.
However, there are a few who are so unable to see past their own needs and desires to ever make any effort to put themselves out for others, and they do bother me slightly.
Maybe this is why I have had a tendency to value other people’s time more than my own in the past.
And, while I certainly do not consider myself to be a pushover, I do think I sometimes struggle to assert my boundaries and this often means I feel buried under my commitments and leave little time for myself.
Although, saying yes to things I do want to do has never felt as much of a conflict for me.
‘Another drink?’ Oh, go on then…
‘Fancy a splurge at Selfridges?’ Yes please! I reply even when I am dirt broke.
At the end of last year, I realised that I had to stop trying to be everything to everyone.
It had been my year to raise my game, a theme which had come straight off the back of my year of saying yes, both of which had left me feeling a bit tired and burnt out.
I wanted to spread myself less thinly in 2015, step back from the chaos and just let the pieces fall where they fall.
However, after a few months of filling my days with Pilates classes, golf lessons and shopping for the school summer fair, I started to experience something I had not felt in a very a long time.
I had slipped into early retirement at 41-years old, and I was not ready to.
I feel as tired as I did at the end of last year, but the difference this time is that I have no intention of slowing down. In many ways, I feel I am only just getting started. Perhaps even, that everything else has been leading up to this.
In hindsight, what I probably needed at the end of last year was a break.
A break from clients that stressed me out, from people who left me feeling drained, and from situations I no longer found inspiring, energising, or even made me happy.
I needed a better balance.
I have decided this year that my theme for 2016 is to say no and let it go. To spend more time with the people I love, doing the things we love; and less time feeling (self-induced) pressure to do more and be more. I want to be less available to everyone and more available to a few. Some people will always go out of their way to try to be a part or your life and other’s won’t. I admit, I am the same.
I’m not about to cut anyone loose, I enjoy these lighthearted friendships as much as my close ones, but when I start to say no, I will be saying yes to spending more of my free time with the people who are genuinely interested in sharing their lives with me too.
I will also be saying yes to writing a blog post, trying out another of Yiayia’s recipes, building a business and playing snakes and ladders with my son.
I am going to say no, and then I am just going to let it go.