No . In a success-driven world, this tiny little word has become taboo. At some point, as women have become more liberated and attained more rights and freedoms, society started dictating that in order to be happy we would have to do it all, be it all, and always be ready and willing to take on more! In order to level the playing field with men, we somehow decided that we had to don capes, and be able to leap small universes in a single bound.
In bygone eras, no was a word that was directed at women. No, you cannot vote . No women allowed. No, you cannot work outside the home . No, no, no, no, no. Eventually, in most free-thinking societies, women began to break away from the enslavement of being told no, and with all the new-found freedoms, took up chanting YES to seemingly everything.
Education, multiple degrees, full-time careers, romance, dating, marriage, family, volunteerism, and friends all became requirements of the normal life plan for any woman who wanted to have her chocolate torte and eat it too!
Fast forward to present day: Women are mid-paddle in the mucky race to have it all. A plethora of tools are readily available, so that we can always be prepared to say yes. Date books, planners, PDA’s, and cell phones now complete wardrobes, and even color coordinate with those terrific-looking handbags!
For a high majority of women, turning down anything, from a work assignment to baking cookies, sends waves of guilt coursing through their weary veins, and visions of failure loom over the horizon for any woman who dares to say no.
It all begins during the formative years. Parents enroll their offspring in all manner of activities, trying their best to provide a well-rounded upbringing full of sports, arts, culture, education and the like for each child. Along comes college, where the competition to excel grows steep.
With a full course load in place, women will take on part time jobs, join campus organizations, participate in athletics, student governments, and can even find time to throw in some partying here and there. Whatever one can do to beef up that resume, and land the hottest job after graduation, so be it!
College ends, life begins. If the Fates allow, we land that dream job, and dream mate, and by now, saying no to anything is met with gasps of horror! At work, it seems to be career suicide if we turn down a hot project. At home, babies, household management, chores, and sex and romance have to be juggled with finesse, in order to keep all parties smiling.
At some point, operating at full throttle is going to fail. When a woman piles so many different hats atop her head, eventually the stack is going to topple over, sometimes with miserable results.
In order to live a fully successful, balanced life, it is imperative that we, as women, learn to delegate, and ultimately to add the no-word to the array of tools we utilize on a daily basis.
It may be necessary to sit back for a second and analyze why we have such a hard time turning anything down. What is it that drives women to fill their plates to overflowing, and makes them think that they don’t ever need to rest and regroup?
If a woman is too busy saying yes to everything and everyone, she is essentially saying NO to herself, and the things that really matter in life, such as inner peace, happiness, time with family and friends, and truly living a fulfilling existence. A quote by John Lennon says it all: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” If we keep letting the precious little time we are given fly by, instead of utilizing some of it for ourselves, life will have been wasted.
If it’s difficult to find this mysterious block of time, then take stock of all the activities that occur on a daily basis. Make a list. Cancel out some of those things that are needless, such as stopping for coffee before work, or making four trips to the store in a week, when only one trip is needed.
Remove some activities from your child’s agenda. Do they really need piano, dance and voice lessons, along with sports, and school activities all the time? Isn’t it up to us, as women, to put a dent in this cycle of overdoing?
Learning how to say “no” is the most difficult aspect of finding time to recharge and regroup. It will definitely take some practice. At first, the feelings of guilt and shame may be overwhelming. It’s in a woman’s nature to want to please, nurture, and ‘do’ for others, so going against the grain will definitely seem unnatural.
With a little patience and time, however, it will become easier. Letting people know that your time is important will not end their world. You can approach saying “no” with a positive attitude, and walk away knowing that you have committed some much needed “Yes” time to yourself. Just do it!