To suggest that I had the propensity for saying “no” in my life would be a rather kind understatement. “No” to new experiences and opportunities. “No” to change. “No” to offers of help from friends and family. “No” to just about anything that might feel new or out of my comfort zone. The habitual “no” that shut down all things unknown to me was as mechanical and as automatic as breathing. In fact, to say “yes” was neither an option nor did it make any particular sense to me. I felt safe on the shores of my very structured life, and to set sail and explore unchartered waters was both anxiety-provoking and unnecessary. I was fine with things exactly as they were. Yet, I was completely unfulfilled. In fact we are all “fine,” aren’t we? Each day we spit out standard rote answers, to close friends just as mindlessly as we do to strangers, “I’m fine thank you, how are you?” We frame answers and emotions around mediocre responses of “I feel fine, it will all be fine, and it doesn’t matter, it’s fine.” Fine. A passionless word. Indeed six years ago if I were to have filled out a one-question survey of my life as to whether 1 – I strongly agree or 5 – I strongly disagree that I was living it, I would have most certainly penciled in that middle bubble of indifference. 3 – I’m fine with it.
In truth for quite some time, years in fact, I functioned just “fine” but carried in me a deep-seeded feeling of discontent and sadness. I was living a safe and well-framed life but berated myself with guilt for being the kind of woman that wanted more out of it, far too anxious and afraid to create the change myself, and too stuck in “fine”. It wasn’t a light bulb moment that changed it for me, it was more of a slow shift, a rolling boil to the surface. But it all started with saying “yes.”
Say “yes.” It can be as small as going out with your husband to that coworker dinner. To see his genre of movie that you’re really not interested in seeing and to eat at that restaurant he loves. Say “yes” to a coffee meet after work with an old friend even if at that very moment you might feel more inclined to take your shoes off and deflate onto the couch. It is saying “yes” to a bike ride with your kids, “yes” to a family board game, and “yes” to picking up the phone to call your Mom. From that one difficult step of saying “yes” after an exhausting day with your kids or after an over stimulating meeting at work, you have set the path in motion to connect meaningfully once again with your love, to gift someone with your time, or to rekindle that friendship. That loneliness inside your heart from feeling as if you don’t have the same strong connections today as you did in your youth? It may well disappear. And YOU did that by marking the path of love and friendship with “yes.”
Say “yes.” It can be as large as leaving a secure job teaching high school Science with a leap of faith that you’ll be able to make something come out of that entrepreneurial spirit of yours. Say “yes.” To trying that new gym class that you’ve been too worried to show up to, to take that online course you’ve been wanting to try, to accept help from friends and family and to follow through on that hobby you’re interested in. To join a baseball team. To travel. For a million different reasons I’ve said “no” to all of it. We all do. And we wait. For a less stressful time in life to add another thing to our hectic schedules. For more financial stability. For our kids to be more independent. For approval from our parents. For him to begin saying “yes” more often to your requests. For the fighting to end. For the anxiety to diminish. Countless pathways closed with a “no”. But say “yes” and the journey will begin…your negative tendencies falling behind you as your positive spirit gains strides. And what you believed you disliked, what you believed would limit you, what you felt you were only capable of, and what you actually can do, will propel you toward confidently answering “strongly agree” to having lived fully at the end of life’s questionnaire.
Say “yes.” The smallest sentence that has made the biggest change in my life pre- and post-divorce. It is a change that is hard to describe unless you can penetrate the inner workings of my mind, but I have an incredibly strong belief that in training myself to say “yes” I have changed a deeply set neuron path structure inside my brain. Saying “yes” has opened my life to new experiences and opportunities that I would have either completely ignored, dismissed or disconnected from. It has given me the confidence to try just about anything, with a contentment in knowing that I’m living for today and that I no longer will be waiting for better days to come. Saying “yes” has given me hope for what is possible, the freedom to taste all of what life has to offer, and the passion and drive to live it fully.
– Bex (with much love and gratitude to Kyla for teaching me to say “yes.”)