July 08, 2014 - 7:01 AM
My entire life I have strived towards being a Yes Person. You know the kind — the one who bungee jumps off bridges in Portugal without understanding a word of the waiver forms, the one who went scuba diving with unknown species of sharks, the one who took too many drinks from too many strangers at a full moon party in Thailand and woke up a fully certified yoga instructor in Nepal.
Being a Yes Person has always sounded very exciting to me. It has also always been one of those things that happens to be very easily attained.
Most kids these days want to be movie stars or millionaires by age 12. Those goals take a lot of effort — but being a Yes Person doesn’t require much more than grunting out one syllable even when you don’t feel like it. I don’t care how lazy I am, if you tell me I could be fit and trim by lifting one five-pound weight once a day, I would somehow find a way.
“Yes” is all it takes and you could be experiencing something that puts you on the map and on your way to enlightenment. Or so we tell ourselves.
“No,” I said, “I am not going to go.”
OK. I guess when I put it in quotations like that it makes it sound like I was throwing a temper tantrum — rest assured I wasn’t — but I had my reasons. It me two weeks to articulate and an additional three days to admit, but there I was, trying some sort of sick experiment, turning down a weekend of fun in the sun.
No is a very hard word to say when you’ve been saying yes for so long. Really, when was the last time you said it and weren’t either disappointed with yourself or looking into someone else’s really-disappointed-in-you gaze?
We are taught when we are young that saying no is a profound power, necessary to our survival — no to strangers, no to drugs, no to bullies — but somewhere along the line that changed. In our late teens and early 20s we started to realize that saying no meant missed opportunities, burned bridges and less fun. No was no longer a symbol of strength and independence — it was a sign of weakness.
It’s not surprising then the concept of saying yes to saying no has become mainstream. New-age junkies and business gurus alike are now claiming that saying no to the things that distract you from your true path are wasting precious time and energy you could be using on something more important.
It’s hard though. Whiney-voice hard. Life-is-so-unfair hard. Because, I really want to spend all day out in the sun playing beersbie with you. I want to get a tan and use my ridiculous koozie, I want to form that inside joke — I want to be that Yes Person — I just know what I need more is a day with myself and a long hard look in the mirror.
But yes is sneaky. It knows that your exterior desires are more exposed than those on the inside. It knows you’re afraid of conflict. It knows you don’t want to be painted the black sheep even though it’s your natural colour. Yes knows it can get its way pretty easily.
No takes commitment, but it’s worth it.
When I was 16 I cried for two days straight because my high-school boyfriend was going to Mexico with friends from our grad class the same week as my family vacation. I had to turn the trip down for a rented RV and Les Mis sing-a-longs with mom and dad.
Fourteen days later, I came home with a new crush. He came home with diarrhea.
— Andria is a twenty-something blogger living in Kamloops with her 100 pairs of heels and 200 paperback Penguin Classics.
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