In the past few months, I've been thinking about what it means to say yes to things. My journey began when I read Shonda Rhimes' book The Year of Yes over the summer. It was fascinating how one of the busiest, most talented writers on a major TV network also struggled with the same issue I have—when to say yes to opportunities whether that be spending more time with family or a major career move.
There's a lot of articles out there on saying no to things in the name of simplifying your life and preserving your mental well-being. It' s a vital skill to learn in our over-scheduled, over-stimulated lives. However, this focus on minimalist scheduling and finding inner peace occasionally downplays the crucial reasons to take a risk and say yes to things.
Because oftentimes saying yes is the difference between staying where you are and growing into a better you.
In my late-night Youtube trawls, I also discovered Buzzfeed's Hannah Williams who did one video where she only said yes to her kid's requests for a week. The end result wasn't complete chaos and resulted in some fun spontaneous things. Obviously, I'm a college student not someone who works for the media industry with kids (like these other two women) so I wondered how exactly it would apply to my life.
And my answers came soon enough, once I tentatively decided to try it out. I've taken on different student org responsibilities even if I wasn't "experienced", performed in very different musical settings, eaten dinner with cool people just because I said hi, and chosen my classes for next semester based more on my interests than nagging anxieties. It's been a more enriching and fun semester, even if the new experiences and responsibilities were a bit stressful when I started out.
Has my somewhat boring, introverted life dramatically changed? Sort of. I'm still the same Lydia—but I'm a bit more confident and willing to challenge myself.
Perhaps I'm one step closer to embracing the Mount Holyoke slogan "never fear / change" that totally flummoxed me when I had to write an essay on it as part of my application. Perhaps I'm one step closer to being the improved version of Lydia that I've always wanted to be. Perhaps I'm just an over-analytical writer and thinker who wants to see change in her life in any way even if it's some sort of placebo effect.
Possibly. But even so I think saying yes and being affirmative on things can change the way you see the world and that's the first step to changing the world itself.