For Those Times You Can’t Say No: #theyearofno

As a little girl I was as enthralled with musical theater as I am to this very day. I remember twirling on the tall chair in my Mom’s studio, my band-aided knees swinging like windmills,  singing at the top of my lungs to the soundtrack of Oklahoma. My favorite song was Ado Annie’s solo “I Cain’t Say No”. I crooned that ballad in my Mom’s studio, I chanted those catchy words while walking up our long driveway to get the mail, and I shouted it while I was feeding my horses. The chorus was always my favorite:

I’m just a girl who cain’t say no,
I’m in a terrible fix
I always say “come on, let’s go!”

Jist when I orta say nix…

Now, I may not be screaming out that song anymore. The times have changed, and I have changed with them (I only sing Wicked and Pippin soundtracks these days). Those words left an indelible mark on my mind. And now that I am in the double digits rather than the single digits, I realize that while I may not struggle with saying no to scads of men like Ado Annie (thank goodness) I still do struggle with saying no to scads of activities. For the entirety of my collegiate career I have collected responsibilities as quickly as a dog accumulates fleas. The problem is not the tasks as much as the deep rooted fear that lies at the bottom of my inability to say no.

I fear regret. I do not want to turn down activities because I am petrified of missing something great. And as my college life has sped forward my life has grown more and more insane with demands that have bowed my shoulders, dulled my eyesight, but at least given me the pride to say I was accomplished.

[Tweet “My inability to say no has made me crabby, uncreative, and continually exhausted. #theyearofno”]

In the midst of this shallow accomplishment I realized that I never regretted turning down an activity, but I always regretted opportunities I passed up that involved investing in another human being.

Lysa Terkeurst quote

My Mom and I went on a long walk on a dusty Midwestern road, and decided this year will be the Year of No. We just are not going to buy into the speed that our culture throws at us. We refuse to be bowed down any longer by the tyrannical monster that never lets us sleep, read a book, or take someone out for coffee.

This is the year of saying no to exhausting activities, and the year of yes to people opportunities.

I want to build time into my schedule for building a new friendship. I want to leave room on my calendar for the unexpected days when someone needs help moving or help with a paper. I want to learn the discipline of free time so when someone invites me over I can actually say yes, rather than give them a look of exhaustion, and tiredlly murmur how busy I am.

In the midst of mulling over all these thoughts I stumbled across Lysa Terkeurst’s new book The Best Yes and I read it twice over choir tour. This book has touched me profoundly, and is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

This is the year of no, friends. Who’s with me?

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18 thoughts on “For Those Times You Can’t Say No: #theyearofno”

  1. Pingback: The Year of No–The Year of Yes | Second Breakfast

  2. Pingback: If It's Not a Definite "Yes", It's a Definite "No" | The Engaged Home

  3. I feel slightly strange saying “yes” to the year of “no”, but it’s a fantastic way of thinking about making decisions. Say no to unimportant things, so you can say yes to the important stuff. Good post.

    1. Hey Andrew! Even as I wrote this post, I was thinking about all the wisdom, and radical thinking (in a good way!) that you have impressed upon me over the years. I am so glad to have you as my brother: a man who always challenges, encourages, and builds up. Hope you have a great week!

  4. Bethie, I remember that little girl with the band-aided knees singing “I cain’t say NO!” 🙂 Good for you to write this post, sweetie. I’ve thought of our talk so many times since that walk. Even when I said “yes” to one thing that I was definitely going to say no to (oops) I was thinking about it. 😉 Saying no to less important things means we can say yes to the things that are important, and that’s what I keep uppermost in my heart when I am struggling to say no. Well done, you!

    1. I think the goal should be to mindfully say yes, or no. All too often I think I am on autopilot, and say yes regardless of my schedule. Thanks for joining me, Mom, in the midst of this crazy #yearofno!

  5. Learning the real meaning of time is key. My sister always taught that by example. She told me there is no better value than to add it to the people you love. With you all the way, Bethany!

    1. Your sister’s observation is so very wise, Amy. I so often forget that time is one of the most precious gifts we can give anyone. Thanks for adding to the conversation! I always love your comments.

  6. Oh my gosh, this is so me! I am such a people pleaser and actually have made it a personal goal of mine to try & trim down what I do this year! I agree-let’s say no!

    1. I am so glad there is someone besides me who struggles with their people pleasing! Let’s commit to making this the year of no, Kriselle. If it does not work we can always make next year the #yearofyes, but somehow I don’t think we will have to. Keep me updated on your journey!

  7. I think more people need to hear this message. Years ago I read a book (I forget the title) but it spoke about buffers, and the need to be putting buffers in our lives. Time buffers (leave a few minutes earlier. Leave time in your day that has no commitments), financial buffers (have more money than month), etc. A great concept in this fast-paced world. Thanks for the post!

  8. If you have learned, in your early 20’s, to say no, you have acquired one of the most important skills of adult life – and I do not exaggerate. And, you are saying yes to the things that matter and the things that will make our world a better place. I say “yes” to your philosophy. Well done!

    1. Thanks, Alana! I am a people pleaser so saying no is incredibly difficult. Sigh. But I think making my Year of No public has really helped me to stick to it, and not be afraid. I loved your post today on the Farmer’s Market trip. Yay for fresh produce! Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

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