The look back at 2013 so far has me tackling some unexpected lessons. None seem to be as important an issue as what I get to write about as a result of today’s prompt:
The bravest thing, by far, was learning how to say “no” without feeling guilty about it. It was realizing I needed to take my own advice and not take things personally – while accepting it may be necessary to cut ties with those things and people that don’t make it easy to do so.
I’d already started to use the word with more frequency – it’s powerful. It was more of an issue of whether or not I meant it or believed it.
I’ve stumbled across a lot of online discourses on the fear of missing out in recent months. It’s something that mattered more when I first got online since all I wanted to do was explore and remain interesting to those whom I’d stumbled upon. I didn’t want to not learn that new skill or not know about the newest online tool at risk of not being cool enough to talk with regularly.
Now, it’s more important to stay sane and focused, accepting the need to say no to things without fear of the consequences. It has not been an easy transition, but it has been helpful.
I’ve given variations of those answers and others countless times this year:
“No, I need to exercise, regardless of how I feel.”
“No, I can’t help you.”
“No, I think I’m going to stay home this time. Thanks, though.”
“No, I understand it’s a ground floor opportunity, but I think I’ll pass.”
“No, while I appreciate your concern, I’m not interested in pursuing this job.”
It’s learning it’s alright to refuse an opportunity, knowing it’s not for me. The side effect is finding the focus needed to tackle my dreams. It’s led to an extended state of “unplugging” from the digital world while reaching out for new influences and connections. It’s meant re-learning what it means to live my life for myself and not for others, regardless of the peer pressure applied or the number of faces turning away because you’re not doing what they want (granted, it means accepting some people will need to be convinced of joining me and trusting in on your own journey of doing).
Saying no to family, friends, and acquaintances is freeing, providing space to grow as a person. I also learned I needed to be brave enough to handle the silence resulting from that disconnection – and how to recognize when others might need to experience this on their own before they’re able to support your effort.
It can be a scary place, but a needed one. Finding those brave enough to join you on the way is nice too. Am I brave enough to continue this practice in 2014? That’s the only way to continue on the great search in my opinion. It also makes those times I say “yes” more meaningful.
Photo: Deep… acnatta/Flickr