My sister Sarah is 20 months older than me, and when we were kids, she was my translator. For a while, my mom was a little worried I wasn’t talking more, but when she asked our pediatrician about it, he told her I wasn’t talking because I didn’t have to; Sarah talked for me.
One of the stories my dad tells a lot is about me answering every question with a “no,” only for Sarah to pipe in: “She says no, but she means yes.”
Then, my nos were often yeses. These days, my yeses are more often nos.
I’m one of those people who says yes to a lot of things – to too many things – because I sincerely, truly, want to do everything. I want to make people happy. To use all my gifts. To do a good job. To do everything anyone asks me to do. And if you ask me to do something, and tell me how good you think I’ll be at it? If you tell me you’re asking me because you’ve thought about it and no one could do it like I can? Well, heck. You’ve said the magic words. That’ll be a yes.
And it is my greatest, purest intention for my yeses to be yeses. Because I want to fulfill what you’ve envisioned. I want to pour myself out the way I know I can, to see all my vision and passion and fire become real. But what I’ve found lately, is that if I say too many yeses, some of those yeses can only turn into nos.
Six months ago, I was asked to take over the leadership of a website for women who are moms and wives and Christians and entrepreneurs. And I said yes, because I believed in it, because I saw what it could be and that excited me, and because, if I’m honest, I was flattered.
But before that yes had come other yeses: yes to Simon and Adlai, yes to a photography business, yes to writing and editing contracts, yes to this blog.
And so, within a few months, the weight of this Yes was too much to bear. And I had to step back. To say no. It was no one’s fault but my own, for being carried away with the idea of what it could be, what I could make it. And, truthfully, carried away with a little bit of self-importance and an inflated ego.
I want my yes to be yes, but sometimes when I make a mistake, when I say the wrong yeses, my yes must become a no. And then I must bear the consequences: disappointed friends, a bruised ego, even broken professional ties.
It’s a lesson I’ve put off learning for too long, and I’m saying yes to it now.
Yes to knowing that no is better than disappointment down the line.
Yes to becoming the dependable woman I want my friends to know.
Yes to saying no when it’s hard, so I don’t have to say no when it’s harder.