Image source: Supernatural Underground
I'm a people pleaser, at heart. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, and it's something I wish I could change about myself. I get really upset with myself when I disappoint someone or let them down, and recently, I'm struggling to be ok with having to let people down sometimes. I try not to complain very much regarding my work-school-home life balance, mostly because I know that I have chosen all of these things for myself. I chose to be the breadwinner for our family until Scott finishes school and to be married to him and supporting him as he finishes his program. I chose to apply to graduate school and to begin a program while still working full-time. I chose to buy a home that needs a lot of TLC even in the midst of busy-ness at work and school.
But what I'm having to choose now is the word no. And I'm not a no person. I'm a yes! person. I say yes to everything, whether it's babysitting for someone on a work night or going out to dinner when I know money is already tight, or grabbing a cup of coffee with someone when I really should be doing my readings for school. I stretch myself very thin by saying yes! to everything because I don't want to miss out on any one part of my life. But I'm getting tired. And I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. And I'm looking at our bank account and our half-stripped wall and the amount of sleep I'm getting each night, and I'm needing to choose the word no to preserve my physical and mental health.
There's a verse in the Bible, in Matthew 5, that says to let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no." Lately, my "yes" means maybe. And instead of being authentic and intentional in how I live, I'm being wishy washy and flakey. I'm committing to plans that I have no business committing to, and when I back out of them, I'm left feeling guilty for letting someone down. The other day, someone asked if I wanted to go see a movie with them this week, and I just flat out said no. And my friend looked surprised, but I felt good in saying no. Because it meant that I had freed myself from being flakey at the last minute and backing out of plans-- it meant that I was confident that it wasn't a good use of my time or money to go see a movie on Wednesday.
I remember when I was in high school at NCSSM, a place where I was challenged with saying no more than ever before, we were told that we could choose 2 of the 3 S'es: sleep, study, social life. They said that if we did all 3 while there, we would surely find that each area suffered. So instead, choosing 2 out of 3 to do well was recommended and encouraged. It was like we were granted permission to say no to some things. For me, I chose sleep and studying. My social life was minimal but I still made friends, and people understood that other things needed to come first. I wish that all of life came with this permission to choose to say no to things that will not benefit you or provide a full, rich life.
I don't think that it's healthy to always say no, in the same way that I've learned that it's not always healthy for me to say yes. I'm desperately searching for that balance. I don't have many friends that are in the place I'm in-- a place of being young and married, being the primary financial support for the family, and balancing full-time work and school schedules. I'm not trying to overly romanticize this or make myself seem like a victim, but it feels lonely sometimes. It's hard to choose no when friends from work are going out to dinner after a tough shift and I am choosing to go home to dinner with my husband or piles of schoolwork. But I know that it's better than choosing yes and feeling guilty about it later for either overspending, not completing necessary schoolwork, or having to back out of plans last minute.
So mostly, this is a post to ask for forgiveness and grace when I have to say no. It's not that I don't want to grab dinner with old friends or spend hours at the mall on a day off. It's not that I am being selfish or stingy or a prude. It's that I feel like I'm falling apart when I try to do it all, and in the spirit of my word nurture this year, I'm having to choose no every now and then.
Thanks for your listening ear and your grace.