17 November 2011

The Magic of Yes

There are a lot of times throughout my life I have felt I am in position that pleases someone else, but will pay off for me later. These situations have been known to include: projects at work, helping a friend, Holidays with forgotten family, and buying practical over splurge. I am positive everyone, but especially young ladies, find themselves in these quandaries all the time. We're doing the thing we think we're supposed to do, but we actually want to be doing something else. So why are we not doing the latter?

I think it's because we've been raised with the notion that we have to be well-liked, and in order
to be well-liked we have to make other people happy. (Well, that's what I gleaned from my upbringing, anyway.) I thought if someone asked me to do something that it was more of a rhetorical question, and that my answer had to be agreeable regardless of whether or not I wanted to. Questions like, "Would it be possible for you to spot my dinner tonight?" seemed innocent enough. I always wanted to help a friend. Until I received my credit card statement and, to my horror, realized I was going broke "spotting" people on their burgers. There was no way I was spending that much on other people's meals, but then I thought back. People had been asking me to cover them with such success that they started to expect that I would simply offer. And I had been! When the bill came, I snatched it up, paid it, and felt like a hero when my friends thanked me for being so nice. And then I drove home and felt like a moron because I couldn't buy anything else for the next week.

That expectation is my kryptonite. If I sense there are expectations of me, I feel innately pressured to meet those standards. Of course, this is a trap. How can one ever meet someone's expectations unless they know exactly what they are? In school, it's blatantly obvious; you receive a syllabus that outlines exactly what you have to do to achieve certain grades. Unfortunately there aren't any syllabi for life, so there has to be another solution to this mess.

I know! Change your perspective.

Unlike the execution of my Facebook, this adjustment took a little longer. I knew I didn't want to be doing all the things I was doing. I also didn't have time. Therefore, I practiced saying Yes only to the activities in which I wanted to participate. Everything else I allowed myself to say No.

For example:

Them: Can you go to the store before work and pick up some of those things we need? 
Me: No, I can't.

Them: Would you like to come on a private boat with all of those people you don't like? 
Me: No, thank you for the invitation. I'm busy that evening.

Them: Do you want to be a part of a really bad play, but a play nonetheless? 
Me: No, but thank you for the opportunity.

Cute Guy: May I take you out for dinner this week?
Me: Yes, you may!

When I started editing out all the secondary things in my schedule I became freer to be spontaneous. I cultivated a new power within myself and I was actually in more control of my life. Instead of doing all the things I was asked and expected to do, I was doing what I expected of myself. Like I said before, it was not a overnight process, and I am actually still figuring out how to master all of the techniques. (Sometimes it's hard to say No without sounding like a stuck-up priss.) I was genuinely concerned that if I didn't meet everyone's expectations that I would be held in poor favor with everyone I knew. That is a ridiculous expectation in and of itself-- and I created it! It was an invaluable lesson to learn that people ask questions because they don't already know the answer. If someone asks something of me and they don't like the answer, then they shouldn't have asked! They should have told me what they wanted of me. And even then, I have the power to say yes or no.

I also know now that I'm well-liked not because of all the dinners I spot, but rather for my personality and the fact that I am... me. It's funny-- I think a lot of women are extremely gifted with making sure everyone around them is satisfied, and yet they are struggling with how to accomplish anything they want done for themselves. If pleasing others is such second-nature, then it's time we started investing some of that energy into ourselves.

I am going to Las Vegas tomorrow. It was a only a few days ago Denver invited me to go for her coworker's birthday. I took a solid five minutes to mull over the pros and cons, and unwaveringly said YES! While putting my outfits together I realized I had become a different person over the summer. The Me from last Spring would have scoffed at the irresponsibility of taking off and going to Vegas for the weekend. I would have toiled over all worst-case scenarios and imagined a horror-show of a trip, only to be disappointed when I saw all the photos and heard the fun stories. This Fall, I am thrilled to have been able to say Yes to the unexpected and No to the mundane. 

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