There’s this advice that women seem to give each other, it’s “you can have it all, just not at once”. I hate it, because to me if you can’t have it all at once, you’re not really having it all. Rephrasing it, I would say, “You can’t have it all at once. So remember to prioritize the things you say you want at some point, or admit you don’t really want them”.
I’ve given up trying to say no. Instead, I say yes to something else. A pointless rephrasing, perhaps. But – we make choices all the time, I’m just trying to be honest with myself. Yes to the diet, no to the cupcake. Yes to the gym, no to a night curled up with a novel. Yes to the more stressful project, no to the long weekend away. This evening, I was torn between going to the gym, being productive on a project, and curling up with a novel. Since I went to the gym this morning (no to sleeping in) I’ve opted for a compromise – this blogpost, then my novel.
Last week I got two emails in a row from the same person. One saying no to something I’d asked them to do. The other confirming I was doing something that I’d tentatively-maybe-more-information-please suggested I might do.
I don’t think they realized or meant to do this, it was a case of being overwhelmed and going through inbox looking for quick wins.
But it wasn’t a great thing to come into on a Monday morning. As my boyfriend said, “that sums up exactly why you hate email”. And it stressed me out because I really felt that I couldn’t do both, but how to come back to someone and say that? I was worried it would come across as manipulative or petty. The thing they wanted me to do was a talk, and I don’t mind giving talks and I think it is a good thing to do. The thing I wanted done was organizing a meeting. I hate organizing meetings – it involves managing dates and email – neither of these is a strength of mine.
But, I’d agreed on a priority for this quarter. The meeting was definitely part of this priority. The talk, tangential, related, good thing, but not as much. And I really felt that I couldn’t do both. They are not the same commitment time-wise, but the stress of doing something I hate (organizing a meeting) was much higher and so to me they seem equivalent.
Anyway, I sought out some advice and explained to someone that I felt I couldn’t do both. She convinced me to do neither – someone else is organizing the meeting, and I don’t know what’s happening with the talk.
But – choices. Next month, Random Hacks of Kindness and a running/biking event are literally on the same day. Less concretely, my paper from January has been invited to be extended. As has the education paper. And there’s an awesome dataset that I’d like to work on. And my team is headed to MTV. And I want to spend more time doing cross fit and take that trip to a spa that my boyfriend and I have been talking about since December.
Some of these things will happen, not everything. It’s a problem, but it’s actually a pretty good problem to have. And so – I have to say yes to making choices. How about you?