Saying "no" has become a real problem in my life. Every opportunity I get seems like the right one to me. I instantly see all that I could learn or do or change and ignore the fact that I’ve already taken on a hundred other things. Because of this, I’ve had a really tough week. Even saying that feels like an admission of defeat. I demand so much of myself so often that I burn out at the first sign of disaster. So, on the brink of a total meltdown, I decided to run.
I got in the car and drove for as long as I could get away with. Ignoring all of my responsibilities may not have made them go away, but it helped me get myself together. Sometimes you just have to get some perspective and see that the world is wider than you or your problems. We are so, so tiny. For example, the paper I’m stressing about is probably not that important in the grand scheme of things. Granted, that doesn’t solve any of my immediate difficulties, but it helps to know that the pressure I feel is probably exaggerated by my immediate circumstances.
When you are doing something that is really hard, it is helpful to get some distance from it. Like that job that you just can’t get a grip on? Take a step back from that and do something else. Give yourself the chance to recognize that there is a world outside of your work and that it is equally as valuable for you to invest in. The crushing weight of your responsibilities might be lighter than it feels. Sometimes it's best to get away from the intimidating things, breathe and collect yourself, and then go out and crush it like only you could.
Learning to say no is so important. You have to value your time, your space and yourself enough to know when you have too much on your plate. I know from experience that this is a hard lesson to learn, but I believe it is one that is essential to living a happy life because you are important. Your time is important. You can’t just give it away for free because, after all, you only have a certain amount of time here in this life. If you are destined to meet the first aliens we discover or cure cancer or be the president, you can’t be devoting your time to things you don’t even care about just because you can’t say no. So the next time you over feeling overwhelmed and someone asks you to do something, remember that you have the option to say no.