Repeat after me: Just say no. Just say no. Just say no.
I’m not sure when I realized that I was a total people pleaser. It might have been in second grade when I became the teacher’s pet. Or maybe in college when I just couldn’t stand to have anybody be angry with me. Or when, after overextending myself AGAIN recently, my husband informed me that it was time to become friends with the word NO.
But the thing is, I don’t like saying NO. And not just because there’s some freaky people pleaser living inside me that probably needs therapy, but because I really DO want to try to do it all (or at least pretend that I can!). But with two kids, a full-time job, and my writing endeavors, adding much else can send me over the edge faster than you can say Lindsay Lohan.
But don’t worry, when it comes to my kids, I serve out plenty of the N-O. For some reason, the people pleaser in me doesn’t care if they get mad at me. Or maybe deep down inside I know that if I don’t say NO to them now, I’ll pay dearly for it later. But for just about anything else, I’m a complete YES whore.
My college sorority needs an advisor? Sure! I’m sure that the hour drive to get to campus for events will be worth reliving my glory days, right?
Girl Scout troop needs a co-leader? Sure! Even though I can’t control my two children, I’m sure getting fifteen five-year olds to listen to me will be no problemo. Just don’t ask me to sew on any patches.
And it’s not just over-volunteering that I have a problem with. I dread telling people NO in general–and I have the magazine subscriptions and coupon books and cookie dough to prove it. It’s so bad that my best friend had to have a NO intervention with me recently. And don’t tell anyone, but sometimes she gives me a script on how to say “no”. She’s my NO coach!
And she’s right. Because often I find myself saying yes to things I shouldn’t and over-scheduling the hell out of myself. And then sometimes I have to say yes and then NO, which is even worse than just having the balls to say NO in the first place. So because of that, I’ve been trying to get my NO on for the last month. And although I sweated my ass off when I wrote my first NO email, it felt liberating to take back control of my own life.
Need a late night pickup from the airport? Hell to the NO!
You just need one more subscription to win that trip to Europe? No can do! I’ve had enough O Magazine to last me a lifetime.
Want me to upgrade my Amex account? No F’ing way–I don’t care how cool your concierge service looks!
So as you can see, I’m slowly learning the art of saying no. But I don’t want to go too far in the other direction. I’ll always want to be someone that people can count on when they need something. Because, like any friend, I really do want to help them if I can. And I’ll never be able to pass someone with cardboard sign without throwing a couple bucks their way. But maybe now I’ll be better at saying no to the things that ultimately take away from the things that matter most. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find that elusive balance that I’m seeking. (Yeah right! But a girl can dream, right?)