I have a problem. No, I’m not referring to my obsession with documentaries about the morbidly obese or the happiness that I derive from making muffins late at night (although those may be connected and could undoubtedly use a blog post to dissect). Rather, I am referring to the unbelievably fast way in which I say “no.”
This hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I remember a time when a friend’s mom sat me down at her kitchen table and made me practice saying “no” to her. Clearly, her lessons worked because at some point I jumped from one end of the spectrum (saying “yes” to things that I didn’t even want) to the opposite end (saying “no” to anything and everything that I didn’t 100% feel like doing).
Because of my habit of declining things in an unhealthily fast way, I decided to create a goal for this year that would force me to say “yes.” So after setting a few guidelines (not lying about my opinion by saying “yes” to something, not saying “yes” to something that would conflict with another commitment, and not saying “yes” to something that I have sworn off, like dessert), I began my week.
Here are some of the things that I said “yes” to:
Writing a short story for my Mom at her request | My Mom often asks me to write her short stories, but I almost always come up with an excuse for why I can’t. Well, there was no way to decline her request when she asked me during this week’s challenge. So without any (spoken) complaint, I wrote her a story of a memory of us from years ago.
In the end, I realized that saying “yes” to her request was beneficial to both her and me since she loved the story that took me very little time to write, and I was able to relive a fond memory that I hadn’t thought of for quite some time.
Agreeing to judge an ugly sweater contest | My sister Jenny usually asks me to join her group of friends when I am visiting family in New York, but I rarely agree to tag along. It’s not that I dislike her friends, but I tend to be there for short periods and want to spend my time either being with family or resting. Much to her delight, she was able to catch me during my week of “yes” when she asked me to judge her friends’ ugly sweater contest in December.
Every part of me wanted to say “no” to her request because judging ugly sweaters doesn’t exactly fall into the category of “things that inspire me to get out of bed in the morning,” but I had to oblige. I haven’t judged the contest yet, but I am confident that doing so will be a good experience since it is something that I can do for my sister. Also, I’m already good at judging (books, people, new Taylor Swift albums, etc.), so maybe this will turn into a passion that I can do in my spare time.
Helping friends move | This is one that falls into the category of, “I would have agreed to help, but I would have thought twice about committing to do so since it was my day off.” I was hanging out with a few friends on a Friday night when they asked if I could come over the following day to help them move from their old apartment to their new place. I readily agreed to help and in the end was happy to see how much we were able to accomplish during the move. Plus side: I got free pizza and good conversation out of the deal, so it was definitely worth the “yes.”
Agreeing to drive ten hours out of my way to NYC | I was talking on the phone to Rae, one of my best friends from college, when out of the blue she asked if I would want to visit her in New York City before heading to my family’s home for Christmas break. Without any hesitation, I said “yes,” and we immediately began planning my visit. This is something that I am very excited for, but I would have never agreed as quickly as I did if I hadn’t been purposefully saying “yes” to everything that I was asked.
Now I have pushed back my arrival to my family’s home in NY to stop by NYC for a few days to spend time with a friend whom I haven’t seen in quite some time, and I could not be happier with my decision. Not only is this trip a surefire way to make some incredible memories, but it always gives me the chance to check off the goal of going out of my way to visit a friend.
There were other instances in which I said “yes” during the week, but the ones mentioned above showcase the range of requests that I received. After some thought, I would say that my biggest takeaway from this challenge was how good it can be to say “yes.” I have missed out on being adventurous, helping friends, and making memories throughout the many years that I have rapidly said “no” to things.
I don’t see myself responding with a “yes” to everything that is asked of me moving forward, but I hope to be more cognizant of why I am saying “yes” or “no” to requests that are made in the future.
Although this challenge was tailored to me, I believe that it can be applied universally. You may struggle with saying “yes” or you may struggle with saying “no;” regardless, I would highly recommend doing something similar to my week of “yes” to become more mindful of your reason for answering a question in a certain way. It won’t be easy, but I promise that it will be rewarding.