The Year of “NO” - November Editor’s Notes
I have a secret: there’s this project I’ve been asked to do that I'm completely avoiding. Trust me, I know it’s bad; you don’t have to judge me from behind your screen because I’ve beat myself up about it enough. But unlike most of the projects that I typically commit to, I honestly have no interest in completing this.
“Then why did you agree to do it, Aley?”
Well, my curious and instinctive friend, that’s what brings me here today.
I’ve asked myself this very question every time I look at the calendar and the days grow closer to my deadline. I say, “If you had just said ‘no,’ you wouldn’t be in this predicament now.” It’s unpaid labor and the subject is really not that interesting, two things I personally hate as a creative. It doesn’t inspire or move me, so how the heck am I supposed to create when these factors are in full play?
I should've have just said no.The situation I’ve found myself in reminds me of all the times in my past when I’ve been asked to do or be apart of something that I had no interest or time to committee to it, but I agreed to it because I didn’t understand the power of my “no.”
It's so easy to say yes, it can become a nervous habit of sorts. Think of the last time you were asked to do something and said yes without giving further thought to what you were really saying yes to. Was it because you actually wanted to do it? Or was it because you felt some kind of unspoken obligation to that person and guilt twisted your arm to comply?
Lately, I’ve been getting reached out to for freelance gigs. This is an entirely new space for me because for so long I been writing out of love and passion, without monetary reward. So of course, the first few times I got a request from someone who was interested in having my words on their platform or to review their music/work, flattery spoke up for me before my time/schedule had a chance to intervene.
But all of a sudden, a sinking feeling would grow in my stomach after learning that they either wanted my services for free or wanted me to produce content for their site at the sacrifice of my own. That’s when no came in.Look, I know we all want our names in shining light or in my case, golden bylines, but every good opportunity is not a God opportunity. In the case of people asking for your services, it’s imperative to use discernment in deciding which opportunities to take because with some, you may be getting taken advantage of.
I know from experience that when dealing with our peers, millennials are cheap and usually don’t want to cough up their coins until they see you on some kind of pedestal. But honey, freelance does not mean FREE. Sure, when you’re starting out and don’t have all the experience in the world under your belt, you should be humble enough to take a few non-paying opportunities until you have a portfolio that can speak for you, but after a while, you have to speak up for yourself and your abilities.
...but every good opportunity is not a God opportunity.
In this get-likes-quick culture, we all want to have something new to report to our "friends." We may even be driven to say "yes" because we don’t know when or if another opportunity is going to come up again. But if our talents were good enough to get one person talking, think of just how many more people are out there who are actually willing to pay for your services.
Know your worth: Ask yourself, is this opportunity really an opportunity to build my portfolio and hone my craft? Or are these people trying to use my talent to get ahead while I stay behind and broke?
My ex-step-mom -- before she went crazy -- used to tell me and my sister to, “Let our 'yes' be our 'yes,' and our 'no' be our 'no'.” Seems like an easy concept to grasp, right? But when you're in the situation with opportunity and time staring you down, you can cave into the pressure. This simple adage means to stand firm in your decisions. Don’t be indecisive when it comes to your peace and sanity even when it comes to what seems like a quick come-up.When you say yes, does it bring you peace? Does it agree with your spirit/gut? Or do you suddenly feel a tightness in your chest as a flood of all your other more pressing responsibilities overtake your conscious? Listen to your first instinct because that's always the purest answer.
Give no a try. Say "no" to free, unpaid labor that brings your stress and anxiety. Say "no" to being taken advantage of. Say "no" to avoidable procrastination stemmed from a lack of interest. Say "no" to work that belittles your natural abilities and talent. Say "no" to what doesn’t speak to you and light.
Don’t be like me, right now trying to pull inspiration out of my... you know what... because when you say “no” to others, you’re actually saying "yes" to yourself.
Now, let me go finish this thing up.
Before you go: Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below! Have you found your power in "no"? Leave a comment letting me know; I want to hear!
Peace, peace, peace,