I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No
The first time I ever said yes to doing something I really didn't want to do was the year I accepted an internship at a local New York City television station. I remember how I wanted to get the chance to learn how to produce advertising promos, but the person who interviewed me thought my talents would be better suited working with the manager of the advertising department who pretty much used me as a glorified administrative assistant.
That pattern of me taking on jobs that I didn't necessarily want continued after graduation. I was pursuing a master's degree in journalism and instead of landing an entry level position at a magazine - I thought it would be more practical to have a steady job at a small entertainment public relations firm than venture into the unknown and be fraught with disappointment if I failed.
Over the next few years, I continued working at a variety of PR agencies -- and while I didn't write for magazines, I actually started meeting magazine editors and pitching stories and while I didn't write them, the thrill of securing them was pretty exciting too. My career then took me to places I never quite expected and I have to admit, that a great portion of it was a fun, exciting and wild ride.
Despite making a lot of decisions that weren't necessarily the best for me, I've been fortunate enough to have a few mentors - the first was my high school English teacher, the second my communications professor at college, and in grad school, I befriended a columnist for a New York City newspaper who helped me land my first newspaper freelance gig. When I left the PR agency world behind, and worked for a major television network, I had the great fortune of working with numerous mentors who were pros in their respective fields and taught me so much about professionalism, thinking outside the stratosphere and making things happen in a way I never dreamed possible.
Fast forward more than two decades, and what I've learned is that I've still said yes to a lot of things in my life I should have said no too. When I worked full time, I had crazy bosses who inevitably drove me to quit. As an entrepreneur, I've taken on lots of projects that I should have stayed away from at all costs. Why did I say yes? Well, there are many reasons - safety, security, the hope it would lead to something bigger and better, and the fear that if I said no, the work would just start drying up and I'd have to admit that I failed.
When I became a mom, I was amazed at stories of women who were at the top of their game and still managing to raise a family. I don't know how or when it happened, but at some point along my safe and respectable career journey, I decided to jump off the corporate ladder and pursue my dream of becoming a writer and author. During that time, I had the chance to meet Lee Woodruff. Lee is a former publicist turned writer, best selling author, speaker, parenting expert and on air personality. What I love about Lee is that she has the guts to say no. She and I had a conversation about that once and she said for the sake of her family, she had to make a commitment to them by turning down opportunities that didn't make sense for her career or were too taxing on her family. Lee had the guts to say no but still says yes to the things she loves. When I grow up, I want to be Lee Woodruff.
The one thing I vow to change moving forward is that it's time to say no a little bit more. For my peace of mind, for my sanity and most of all, for my family. As a working mother, I can't say yes to everything and do it all well.
Although it's tough to turn off that "yes" switch in my brain, the only way for me to truly find myself again is to say no to the things that I really don't want to do. Sure, I may let some people down, but the only way to find true happiness is to say yes to the things you love.