On Wednesday I had an epiphany. I am absolutely, positively, doing way too much.
I went to work that morning with a frown so profound that two of my colleagues took notice. They are both women. I made a note in the back of my mind, but kept on going. I kept my head down. I stayed away from my desk. I had to keep moving. At some moments, I felt like I might faint. I didn't, so I proceeded with my plans. Later that day, I arrived to Dance Dance Revolution at the brink of exhaustion. I looked at my friend, her face mirroring mine. It was clear she was tired too; too little to eat on a very busy day.
I confided in her colleague and friend that I was stressed out. He walked me through what I already knew in my gut. Something would have to be given up. Even after my extracurriculars came to pass at work, I would not know enough peace to bring myself to work day after day. Despite a week of consistently topping 7 hours of sleep, I awoke each day feeling progressively less rested. Something would have to be given up. My friend and I danced once, decided the line was too long, and went on our way. We ate delicious food. We went home.
Today, a colleague asked me if I was ok. I confessed, I was not. He told me about how he also dealt with it in his 20s. The scourge of yes. I resisted the urge to address the implication that, perhaps, I was still in my 20s. I took his advice, which was simple. Pause. Make space for the gut check. Distance frees you from the impact of their disappointment. Then it occurred to me; maybe there wouldn't be any at all. Isn't it better to arrive in the moment, eager to participate, than to show up dreading the decision? It's hard to fake the funk. Especially now.
I went to the event I shouldn't have said yes to. I had a good time. But it reaffirmed why my answer to the other things should have been no. Every moment I devote my limited to time to other people's truths, I deny myself my own. It's so hard to keep sight of that North Star, so easily occluded by clouds and sun alike.
On the train I ruminated on the power of the word no. How freeing it is. How little is really lost when I follow my truths, and what I stand to gain instead. I thought about where I learned to keep saying yes. It's a mindset that says that opportunity is scarce. It's one I know is a lie. After all, these opportunities came to me with little to no effort at all. But I attract the wrong opportunity when I do not stand firm in my mission.
There is nothing wrong with yes. But for every yes, I say no to something else. It's not so binary, but it is close. Each decision yields many more unforeseen consequences. The branches of a tree. The leaves. The fruit. It is true we cannot always know what will be sown, but we can know that without proper sunlight, nutrients, and water, nothing will be sown at all.