If my life were a newspaper, today would’ve made the front page. There would be newsboys peddling furiously to hawk two Earth-shattering stories of age-old prophecies-come-true. Because in big, bold headlines the Science section would read: “Spotted – Actual Pigs Flying!” And the Weather segment would state: “It’s Official … Hell Has Finally Frozen Over!” Why? You might ask. How was it finally accomplished? Well, I’ll tell you. These cataclysmic events took place because the unthinkable happened … I, Elle Harris, finally said – NO.
If you don’t know me well, then you wouldn’t understand how epic this word, or the fact that I actually used it is! I am not a “no” girl. Pretty much the exemplar opposite, I am a yes-girl, an “absolutely” girl. I am the kind of girl who not only says she’ll do something (when asked) but stupidly offers herself up to a task or challenge willingly! I like to do it all. And worse, I like to pretend I can handle it all; but I can’t, and this season, I knew it.
I think that sometimes I actually get myself bogged down by all the choices of what I could be doing, what I should be doing, and what I want to be doing. Can I just say that those are all VERY different categories. I can relate to the saying, “Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to something else.” And I guess I am okay with that, but not when the “something” is replaced by “someone.” I don’t like letting people down, but especially not my own people. In his book East of Eden, John Steinbeck said,
“The Hebrew word, the word timshel, – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”
I like this quote because it convicts me a little bit. It makes me think about the fact that I don’t say “yes” because I have to, but because a part of me (even the exhausted part) wants to … needs to even. A piece of me feels like every time I say yes, I am making myself: more legitimate, more worthy, or more notable, when in truth, I might just be making myself: more frazzled, more frayed and more torn.
At school I am a member of two committees. At my kid’s school I am a member of yet, another committee. At church, I’m a part of a group, and usually volunteer multiple times for multiple venues. I love YES! But when approached with the opportunity to say yes to another committee at school, I finally did it. I finally said no. I didn’t want to, and let me say, I didn’t like the taste of the word coming out of my mouth – I barely recognized it! Like a foreign swear word, it sounded unnatural and wrong; but it needed to be said.
In her novel Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult said,
“In the spaces between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future.”
I don’t want to wake up and realize one day that the only reason I didn’t become the person I should’ve been was because I was too “committed to commitments” to take chances. So in regards to my first “no,” I’d like to say I felt lighter, more free after rescinding my participation, but instead, I felt terrible. I worried about letting down my administration, and myself. I think I wrote a series of four emails apologizing for taking myself off of the new team. They understood, and understood again; I was the one who needed to let it go.
I went to Walmart later on that day and looked at the wall of deodorant. Eyeing the man standing a few feet away from me, I laughed internally as he scanned the shelves for a few moments, shook his head and took off. Too many choices apparently. I scoffed, turning back to the wall of wonder, thinking him a weak excuse for a shopper. But after a few minutes sniffing bizarre combinations of fruit and flowers, I too abandoned ship with an empty cart. I think it was the one titled “Caring Coconut,” that really threw me. I mean, come on – personifying an antiperspirant?
The point is, whether talking about consumerism or commitments, sometimes the overabundance of choices are the real enemy. We need to take into consideration the fact that sometimes enough really is enough, and work more on defining who we are by WHO WE ARE, not by what we are a part of.
So I said no one time … maybe it is more of an accomplishment than I thought.
Here’s to making choices, and being you … whoever that turns out to be. Like a health plan, it’s about diet and exercise … less to the yes, and exercise your right to say “no.”