This week our LifeCircle assignment was to say 'no' to something you'd normally find hard to refuse or, worse, would say 'yes' to and cause yourself significant inconvenience as a consequence. The last time I tried to put my foot down and say 'no' (actually is was a case of 'no more') this happened. Another time I did manage to say 'no' to a good friend who made it clear that she expected me to bring my then 2yo out in the evening to an event she was holding. I got this response. So you see it's not always as easy as just being firm and saying 'no'.
On the other hand, it usually is just a case of being firm and saying 'no'. One problem is that I often want to do whatever it is. I like organising. I like being involved in community stuff. I enjoy the whole being part of something gig. But, of course the biggest problem is not wanting to let people down, worrying that they may think less of me or be offended (in the case of declining an invitation).
I made the decision that when DD is at nursery I must use the time to work. I made this decision a few times and every time something more interesting comes up, I relent. I reason that what's the point of doing freelance work if I can't be flexible with my time? Of course I can be flexible with my time - I could stay up working all night if I wanted. However, even if I wanted, I'm often too tired to do any work when DD is finally asleep. So it's a nice idea that just doesn't work and I have to use the hours I have during the day.
Last week I went out for breakfast with a friend who teaches at a college. As he was on mid-semester break, it seemed silly to pay for a babysitter in order to see him. Then a good friend from New York was here on a (literally) flying visit. I get to see her once every three years or so - how could I not have lunch with her? This week another friend asked if I were free for lunch. I would love to meet her for lunch. Believe me it'd be a lot more fun than planning 28 hours of English language lessons for next semester (which starts on Tuesday and I've not started).
I admit there was a little guilt as this particular friend has to come in from Tel Aviv and I'd said 'no' to her last time she was in Jerusalem for similar reasons. There was a little angst in the form of: will she think I don't want to see her? She emailed me the suggestion we meet at the beginning of the week and I uhmed and ahhed at her, pushing off the final decision until today. Partly because I didn't like to say 'no' and also partly because I was hoping against all hope that I'd be in better shape workwise - there was about 0% chance of this happening.
This afternoon I emailed her explaining that I wouldn't be able to meet her for lunch tomorrow. She'd second guessed me and had already made alternative arrangements. How much better if I'd simply told her 'no' in the first place. I wouldn't have had it on my mind all week and she would've known what she was doing much earlier without having to second guess my plans.
I have another friend who, at the slightest hint of guilt-angst, says, 'get over it.' She's so right. No one cares about these things as much as yourself. In future I'm going to just say 'no' and get over it. (btw, it helps if you say 'no, sorry'.)