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Keep Telling Me to “Say No” Until I Learn

Red balloons
Credit: flickr / Jakob E

On the way to Toronto my friend is telling me I need to give up bagels, and I say, there’s enough change in my life right now without introducing more. But that I think it will be better next month. She says, “you always think that; you said that in August, too”.

She’s right. This month’s major source of stress has been the number of talks I’m giving. But – what have I agreed to in the first week of November? Another one. And at a Catholic school too, when I oppose religious schooling. So now I feel stressed and guilty.

Then at ONCWIC, someone gives the advice – track your time, noting that sometimes trying to please, and agreeing to something means that you’re not doing another thing that is actually more important to you.

It’s amazing, you go to these things and you hear the same comments from different people, with different stories behind them, even things you have concluded yourself. And yet – almost every time I am inspired and motivated, and grateful to have heard it again.

The impostor panel at GHC is always one of the most popular, perhaps because it’s so hard to believe that these awesome women, who seem so successful and together, are wracked with doubt the same way we are. Every year (at least!) we need this reminder. I was talking to an amazing colleague who mentioned the panel, and how much she enjoys it every year, saying it gives her hope that she can be that awesome one day – whilst I look at her and think, woah you are so awesome, I will never be as awesome as you.

In the same way that reminder is helpful, so is the one for saying no. It is hard to say no. You want to make people happy. You want to take advantage of opportunities. You don’t want to let people down.

The reminder – if we don’t let other people down, we often do that at the expense of letting down ourselves, and our true priorities.

Meanwhile, for me, a bet I placed a little while ago has proven successful way beyond what I expected. And I feel a little overwhelmed, like, I know I aimed for this but I never thought it would happen and now it’s reality and… I doubt myself. I’m nervous to do it, but also nervous that this opportunity will disappear. Particularly with so much else going on, I feel like I would have liked to clear the way a little, so I could focus on this and only this.

But, it never works out that way, does it? When there’s not much going on I seem to have to seek out my adventures, but when life is chaotic adventures are thrust upon me. All you can do is set your priorities and try hard to stick to them. Work hard, but not so hard that you burn out.

Go and get that same advice again, in the hope that this time you’ll do a little better following it than before.